Big screens: panels or projection?

If you decide to build a physical collaboration space, one of your biggest investments will be a large touch screen.  In this post I’m going to focus specifically on screens larger than 2m, suitable for multiple people to gather around and work on.

These are my Top 3 considerations in deciding between a grid or projection screen.

If you are working with a large screen with a touch interface you currently have two real options.

  • A screen made up of multiple LCD panels with an infra-red touch frame installed around the outside, like a picture frame.  This will sit as a black screen when off, rather like your TV.
  • A rear projection screen with touch technology built in either behind the screen, or with an infra-red front frame similar to the above.  This will sit as a white screen when off, like a cinema.

What are the critical factors in choosing which screen type to go with?


As ever, everything starts with purpose.  What are looking to use your screen, and your collaborative space, for?  If your emphasis is on workshops and screen work, then it is wise to consider the ergonomics of the touch surface, the integration and quality of the touch interface and the heat generated by the different options.

Space & architecture

Rear projecting screens need space, and lots of it.

Typically, a projected screen will need a maintenance area of 1.5m- 2.0m behind them.  The projectors are set back from the screen and mounted on a frame, and are themselves quite bulky.  In addition you need space to remove the projector from behind and allow a maintenance engineer access.

A panel screen is usually mounted on a frame that sits flush to the wall.  Take the time to understand how panels are removed for maintenance, and what, if anything, sits behind each panel.


This is usually the most difficult to qualify, as different looks appeal to different users.  Personally, I like a gridded screen because of the impact of black-when-off.

Other people I know dislike the intrusion of a bezel into their viewing experience, and as such prefer the sleekness of a projection screen.  Bezel size gets smaller ever day, but again often with a compromise.  Very small bezel width may create a complex maintenance requirement, or require hardware to sit elsewhere in the room

And finally….

What about cost?  Whilst this will definitely impact the size and scale of your screen, it’s unlikely to influence your choice between panels and projection.  Neither technology is significantly cheaper than the other, instead focus on the quality and sophistication of the product range in each category.

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