The Stage Display output from MediaShout can be displayed on a wide range of displays, and the connection can use any of the common video output formats. Here are some general guidelines to assist you with selecting a screen and connection method, but keep in mind that a lot will depend on factors that are either unknown or subjective. If you have any more detailed questions, we recommend consulting an audio visual contractor to assist you.
There are a LOT of different brands of LCD TV/monitor, and many of them are fine for this application, so we recommend purchasing based on features, price and support (in that order). If you plan to send a VGA signal, that is your highest priority because not all flat screens have VGA ports. You don't need whiz-bang features like 3D support or even 1080p HD because you won't be watching movies and you'll be too far away to see the difference between 720p and 1080p. In fact, you should be able to find a great price on a 720p screen because home theater shoppers are usually looking for 1080p! (The difference is surprisingly negligible unless you're watching a Blu-Ray.)
As for screen type and size, that will depend on several very subjective things, like:
- ambient lighting (if screen is in an average to well-lit location stick with LCD because most plasma screens aren't as bright);
- the level of eyesight of those viewing it (if your staff and volunteers have poor eyesight you'll want to make sure you go big!).
A good way to help determine what a given screen size would look like is to place MediaShout in Overlay display mode on an average 23" display and stand 10-20' feet away to see if you can still read the text. If you buy a 47" TV, that's roughly twice as big so it'll look the same from twice as far (20-40') away from the TV. By using this method, and scaling the screen size and distance ratio, you should be able to approximate how big a screen that you need to purchase.
We recommend feeding the new screen directly from the VGA output of your computer or USB video adapter. If your cable length is over 50', or you are using a USB video adapter, you should strongly consider adding a video amplifier (or Distribution Amplifier) at the computer end of the cable to provide a strong, clean signal. There are a number of CAT5 (or CAT6) to VGA adapters -- called baluns by A/V pros -- that can significantly reduce your installation costs. If you choose that cabling method, however, make sure that you use high-quality, correctly installed and terminated cable and equipment. Some of the devices that are on the market are of poor quality and will not provide acceptable results with the cable lengths and resolutions that they claim. Be conservative, and over-spec your system for best results!
Another option for connecting the stage display is HDMI. While this initially appears to be a less expensive -- and potentially higher quality -- output, please use caution and make note of the following advise. Because HDMI was designed specifically for consumer electronics applications, the format is intended to be used with relatively short cable lengths. Long cables can be used, but they can introduce a number of issues and limitations, and any serious degradation of the signal will cause the screen output to go away completely rather than simply display poorly like a VGA signal will usually do. Just because an HDMI cable is sold that is as long as you need, don't assume that it will work reliably. Long HDMI cables need to use a heavier gauge of wire, and may also need to have a repeater to clean up and boost the signal. While the HDMI spec doesn't specify a maximum cable length, a repeater is usually required every 15 meters using typical cable construction. Even considering these issues, the maximum display resolution that can be used over long HDMI cables is often compromised. Given that there is very rarely any perceivable difference in the quality of the output between HDMI and VGA, we don't usually recommend HDMI.
The DVI format is designed to be used to connect computers to display monitors. The typical cable length limitation is about 5 meters (15'). Because they both use the same digital video signals, a DVI output can easily be converted using an inexpensive adapter or cable to an HDMI format. DVI outputs are not usually run for very long cable lengths, so unless your computer is relatively close to your Stage Display monitor or projector we don't recommend using this type of output.
Dell has an informative video that explains these video connection formats located here on their support site.