Standard vs custom vs customised display solutions

An embedded display with colour touchscreen being tested after customisationDisplay choice is arguably the most complex buying decision on a project and your instinct might be to go for a standard, off-the-shelf display, but wait, have you considered the benefits of a custom or customised display solution?

Firstly let's summarise the difference: A standard display is off the shelf, with pre-determined features which are produced en mass. A custom display on the other hand is completely bespoke - designed for a project with exact sizing, features and hardware. A customised display is a halfway house - taking a standard display and modifying it - keeping the basics but adding in (or taking away) wanted/unwanted features.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with using a standard catalogue display and there are plenty of websites (including our own colour and monochrome ranges) that list a wide variety of standard displays. However, having specified displays for thousands of projects, I can’t help but feel that you almost always end up with an ‘if only’ feeling; if only the viewing angle was better, if only the display was brighter, if only the display were slightly smaller/bigger.

Designing the user interface is a hugely subjective issue. You’re trying to find a best fit between three major factors. First is budget. Second is the needs of the display end user and third is the technical constraints of the project (case size, processor spec, interface requirements). If you limit yourself to a standard display you will most likely end up making a lot of compromises. In the vast majority of cases the best solution to keep close to your budget means customising a standard product –Sometimes, the right solution will be a fully custom display, designed from scratch and made specifically for that project. That way, you get exactly what you want – no compromises.

The pros and cons of a standard display solution

Pros: Readily available, generally lower cost, lower order quantities and proven technology.
Cons: Having to compromise on features and not having a product truly for for purpose. Also the risk of your product looking like your competitors.

Starting from scratch with a custom display

A custom display always starts with a blank sheet of paper. Working with a display design specialist like us means we can help design a display that meets your specifications exactly: the size you want, the form factor you want, the interface you want, the features you want and discarding those you don’t.

For example, with a few exceptions the majority of standard displays are based on standard 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios favoured by TV or monitor manufacturers. With a full custom design, you can have the aspect ratio that you want, however obscure!

Adapting a standard product with a customised display

Custom display drawings during the design phaseBy contrast a customised display starts from one of our standard products. There is a lot that can be done to adapt that display to your specific project needs. We can add films and coatings that enhance brightness and viewing angle, improve sunlight readability and protect against heat and scratches. We can remove unwanted features and add others. You need an enhanced backlight – no problem - we can add double brightness or long life LEDs. If you don’t need a backlight? – we can remove it to save costs. We can add EMI shielding and build or configure interface modules specifically for the application. We can even go as far as cutting down TFT displays to create letterbox format displays.

Custom displays don’t need to cost the earth!

A custom display is more economic than you would think. You don’t have to build consumer volumes to make it financially viable. We’ve designed custom displays for many customers, and it has been economic at annual volumes of 100,000 or less.
In fact, the additional costs of a custom display are all upfront in the design, development and the production tooling cost stage and are variable depending on the final design .

The cost of a custom display can often be partly or fully recouped eliminating unwanted features and specifications bringing a significant saving. There can also be savings elsewhere in the system that contribute to improving the economics. Using a smaller display can create a smaller, lighter and less power-hungry system which is cheaper to manufacture and ship.

If you would like to discuss your options, please get in touch with us today.


Related articles:

Custom Display Design: Cost-Effective, Accessible, Easy?

The 'shape' of displays to come

Going Mono? Design to Wow with a Custom Display


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