What is an “LED”?

LED is an acronym for Light Emitting Diode, which are basically just little lights that fit into an electrical circuit. Unlike your ordinary light bulb, LED’s do not contain a filament that will burn out or create heat. An LED illuminates solely by movement of electrons in a semiconductor material. LED’s have an incredibly long life and easily surpass the life of an incandescent light bulb by thousands of hours, which in turn keeps maintenance costs down for you. You my already be aware that tiny LED bulbs have been making their way into the television world, to create a beautiful high definition picture in a much thinner television.

Electronic Resolution and Pitch for LED Displays

After deciding on LED advertising, you should know that the resolution quality is an important factor of any video board and electronic LED display. But what is resolution for an electronic LED display? A simple definition of resolution is the degree of sharpness and clarity of a displayed image, but in electronic LED signs, resolution is based on two primary factors, the matrix area and pitch.


The matrix area, also known as the pixel matrix (which is the total number of pixels within the sign), corresponds to the number pixels that makes up the display area. In our industry, we express the matrix area in the number of pixels vertically by number of pixels horizontally, such as 16×64.

LED signs of the same height and width may have a completely different pixel matrix.

You should always look at the retainer of the sign which is the metal that surrounds the LED display area. A retainer can vary from sign to sign and the size of the retainer will have an effect on the number of pixels within.


A pixel is a grouping of LED’s put together and each sign has a different pixel or “P” number. If the sign is a “P1” then there is only one LED within the pixel. If a sign has a “P16” like ours, they it has 16 LED’s in each pixel. A tv is normally a “P12”, resulting in 12 LED’s per pixel.


Pitch is the main factor that determines the number of LED’s in a pixel. The pitch is defined as the distance between two pixels and plays a key part in making the image on the sign crisp. (The distance is measured from the center of one pixel to the center of the next pixel.)

You should also be aware that:

  • The smaller the pitch, the higher the resolution.
  • The larger the matrix area, the higher the resolution.
  • Full matrix message centers that displays graphics should have at least 16 pixels in height. It’s recommended 32 pixels in height.
  • Resolution for video boards (i.e. VideoMax) should maintain an aspect ratio of 3H:4W or 6H:9W with at least 96 pixels in height.

Viewing Angle

LED displays are available with different viewing angles, varying between 75 degrees to 140 degrees. The viewing angle is determined by the points off-center, both horizontal and vertical, where the measured light intensity is fifty percent of that measured directly in front of the LED display. The maximum viewing angle is defined as the vertical and horizontal points where the angle at which brightness or contrast drops below 50% of the maximum, i.e. the displayed information fades from the customers view.

Depending on your audience, you may prefer a display with a narrow viewing cone (sometimes more appropriate for drive-by traffic) or displays with super-wide (140 degree horizontal) viewing (usually best for sports venues).