Advertising your business or showcasing your products in this age of modern technology typically includes digital signage. There are two main options: commercial displays vs. consumer televisions (TV).

A consumer TV is a television that anyone could buy in store or online. Many companies use these to show promotions, menus, and more in their stores. By contrast, a commercial display is a digital signage display specifically designed for commercial use and can’t be bought by anyone in any store.

It can be challenging to figure out which of these two options is right for your business, as it varies based on budget, purpose, and other factors. To help you with the decision, compare commercial displays vs. consumer displays across a few key categories.

Function

The purpose of these types of displays are completely different. Consumer TVs are mainly for at-home use. Companies engineer these with the expectation that someone will bring the TV home and watch it occasionally. Consumer TVs are typically built to handle fairly varied use, including in homes where they are on for most of the day. They are also usually designed to connect to cable, satellite, and a range of other input devices.

Man in electronics store looking at large consumer TVs

Commercial displays were created specifically for commercial use. They are ideal for use in a business setting and can always be on during business hours or even 24 hours a day. They tend to be for more rigorous use as most homeowners don’t have their TVs on all day.

Design

When you first compare commercial displays vs. consumer ones, you will notice some visual differences. While consumer displays are more visually appealing and come with a stand or support, commercial displays blend into their surroundings. Instead of featuring a stand, they almost always feature another type of support.

There are also design differences for digital signage display vs. TV screens in terms of brightness, thanks to the typical differences in the settings’ light. Consumer TVs tend to be a bit dimmer, so consumer displays are less bright. As a comparison, consumer screens can usually brighten to up to 350 cd/m2, with commercial displays easily going above 2,500 cd/m2.

The difference in the design of consumer vs. commercial displays also stems from what content will likely be on it. Consumer TVs are more for showing live TV, series, video games, or movies. Commercial displays can show these, as well as websites, slideshows, menus, promotional content, social media feeds, and more. The content you can display on commercial TVs are almost endless.

Connections

Although there are exceptions, most consumer TVs only have a few connection options, such as HDMI ports or USB inputs. Commercial displays also support these options, as well as VGA, DVI, and display ports. They even have support for video-loop out connections.

No consumer TV has built-in media players, but some commercial displays feature digital signage media players. If your device doesn’t have one, you will need to buy one separately and connect it to send content to the screens. Another variance when comparing commercial display vs. consumer TV is how you control it. Consumer TVs come with remote controls, but commercial displays can rely on R232 controls, which is rare for consumer TVs.

Durability

While some people watch TV constantly, most consumer TVs are not designed for this constant use. They are not typically engineered to handle constant watching non-stop, usually only handling about six or eight hours per day. By contrast, a commercial display is designed to be on nearly constantly. They are also more durable, typically featuring an outer layer that protects them from dust, heat, and other issues. Generally, commercial signage displays are better-equipped to handle the demands of a business. If the sign is for a location outside, then a commercial-grade unit is essential.

Commercial Display at an Airport

Post-Purchase Support

There are several aspects to post-purchase support with commercial display vs. consumer screens. It starts with the fact that most commercial units will come with support right after your purchase. This can include advice during installation and for trouble-shooting. It may also include on-site repairs. On the other hand, consumer TV companies are less likely to walk you through installation and will typically require you to bring the TV in for repairs. You also tend to get a better warranty with commercial displays, especially when you read the fine print. On average, you can expect a three-year warranty from a digital signage display. For the average consumer TV, the warranty is about a year. More importantly, you may void that warranty if you use the TV in your business.

Commercial Displays Vs. Consumer TV: How to Choose

With all of the above comparisons between a commercial display vs. consumer TV in mind, how do you choose which one is better for you? Think about how you plan to use the display, including what you will show, where it will be located, and how long it will be on for.

You should strongly consider a commercial display if it will be outside, you plan to have it on all day, or you need multiple connections for various input types. If you will not have the unit on constantly and have no problem buying a separate digital signage media player or finding a TV that can work around this, either will likely be fine. Don’t forget to consider the purchase over the long-term, as well. Commercial displays not only last longer, but they come with a better warranty and typically include on-site repairs.