When considering a Digital Signage network for your business, you will come across a decision to purchase either the more expensive commercial grade or the lower cost consumer grade hardware.
Commercial grade hardware refers to hardware such as LCD screen, LCD mounting hardware and media player that is designed and built for commercial environments such as an office, warehouse, universities, hospitals etc. These equipment are marketed by the manufacture as being higher quality therefore it is said to last longer in harsh environments and typically come with a 3 year warranty. The warranty service is usually onsite for larger displays and they will come to commercial locations. In addition, commercial grade LCD screens have a special connector called the RS232 (also known as serial port on your PC) which allows control of the LCD screen functions from a media player. Keep in mind, your media player and Digital Signage software also needs to support the control of LCD screen in order to take advantage of this feature.
Commercial LCD screens also tend to look slight more industrial with uniform width on bezels and do not have the aesthetic touch that consumer grade LCD screens have. This is not necessarily a bad thing when you are using it for commercial purposes.
In many cases, commercial grade monitors are built to be mounted in landscape (standard orientation) or portrait (turned sideways) orientation. The portrait orientation is what you see often in airports allowing a vertical display that is really useful for text content like airline schedules. Although consumer grade monitors can be mounted portrait in many cases, the airflow of the LCD set is altered resulting in a potential for overheating and more importantly the manufacturer refusing to provide warranty service for mounting in portrait orientation.
Consumer grade hardware refers to equipment that is built for the home. These equipment, often come with 1 year manufacturer’s warranty and said to contain lower quality components that do not last as long as commercial grade equipment. Warranty offered by the manufacturer only covers use in homes and the manufacturer may not provide warranty when used in a commercial environment.
Consumer grade LCD monitors, in many cases, can be purchased from a vendor with third party commercial warranty. This will allow you to use the lower price consumer grade equipment in commercial environments and still receive 3 and 5 year warranty service. It is recommended that you carefully read all the fine print from the warranty provider and ensure that onsite warranty is provided since shipping large equipment can get very expensive.
In the case of mounting hardware, consumer grade LCD mounts most often will not have security features that commercial grade mounting equipment does.
Example of consumer and commercial grade LCD monitors from Samsung.