How do I display 6 slide shows on 6 LCD displays?
June 19, 2008 9:06 AM   Subscribe

We are building a video display wall for our new office and I need to figure out the best way to do it, with out spending too much. The output source are 22 LCD displays, there are 6 of them all showing different slide shows. DVD? PC? Any help would be appreciated. More details of what has been tried are inside.

We started with the idea of 6 LCDs hooked up 6 DVD players, with slide show CDs in them. Turns out it's a huge pain in the ass to get computer monitor LCDs (1680x1050) to play an HD (720p or 1080p) video signal. (The method I have been using is an HDMI to DVI cable going into the digital in on the LCD, also the DVD player is a Philips DVP5982)

I had two Acers (AL2216Wbd) from my desktop I used in the prototype which worked and displayed 720p fine. Then I ordered six of the same model to use in the wall and Acer changed something in the manufacturing in the last year so none of them will display 720p or higher, and Acer doesn't want to help unless I am plugging them into a computer.

So I went out and got a Samsung (2253BW) monitor that looks great and I can sent it 1080p video signal, for up to 1 minute. Then the monitor tells me this is not the optimum video mode and turns it self off.

I don't have the time and money to keep getting LCDs and testing them to see if they will work with a DVD player. Also because of budget I am focusing on the $200-300 range.

The other obvious answer would be to use a computer to drive the displays. But I don't want to buy 6 shuttle PCs, I'd rather just get 3 dual head video cards and run all of the monitors off one machine, but I haven't found any slide show software that will display different slide shows at full screen on different displays.

Am I going about this all wrong? I thought I was fairly competent but so far this project is proving otherwise.
posted by MrBobaFett to Technology (6 answers total)
Best answer: Powerpoint will. For each show, go to Slide Show -> Set Up Show. Under multiple monitors, choose a different monitor for each show. I just had two different show running on my dual monitors.

Also, note that you can buy quad-head video cards.

Other tips to achieve awesomeness:

* Don't cheap out on the PC that will be doing the heavy lifting. I'd get either a Core 2 Duo faster than 2.6 GHz, or a quad-core, any speed. 3 gigs of ram for XP/Vista 32-bit.

* Make sure the video cards can hit the LCDs native resolution. This will be critical.

* Make sure slides are created for the right resolution. This is like changing the Page Size for a Word document. Take advantage of the widescreen aspect ratio; don't display 4:3 slides.

* Ease off the transitions: the only thing that looks worse than 1 slide show that hiccups on weird fades is 6 slideshows hiccuping on 6 weird fades.

* Use hardware graphics acceleration (Slide Show -> Set Up Show -> Performance)
posted by mysterious1der at 10:09 AM on June 19, 2008

Response by poster: For the PC we were planning on using one we already have but aren't using anymore. So probably 1 Gig of RAM, 2GHz CPU... I don't think they want to spend more than $500 to drive these things, and most of that if not all of it would be going into the video cards.
posted by MrBobaFett at 12:35 PM on June 19, 2008

Ok, it's still workable. To accomodate the machine, I'd start off with conservative slides (no video, no audio, no transitions other than just to 'blink' from one slide to the next. Maybe ask for a beefier machine for next budget year?

Also, you can tweak the machine for speed. Turn off the Windows themes service, check 'start -> run -> msconfig' and turn off basically everything on the Startup tab. On the Services tab, check 'Hide all Microsoft Services' then turn off everything else. If you trust your internal network, turn off the firewall and antivirus. Just google it, you'll find lots of tips and tweaks.
posted by mysterious1der at 1:02 PM on June 19, 2008

I can't help re: the slides but I just spent this week trying to get my PS3 to output to my computer monitor. Using a Samsung 22" (technically, 21.6", but who cares?) monitor, model 216BW, and an HDMI->DVI adapter, my PS3 is perfectly happy sending 720p (which is then, I assume, upscaled to the monitor's native res of 1680 X 1050) or 1080p (which is similarly downscaled). The monitor's not too expensive, either (you might get a better deal at Fry's, I did). Perhaps the Acers you have are not HDCP [High-Definition Content Protection] compliant? It sounds like that might be the problem, especially with them working but then stopping after a minute.
posted by thack3r at 3:26 PM on June 19, 2008

Response by poster: According to the box the Acer is HDCP compliant, and it's too bad it doesn't work because I really like the form factor for building it into the wall. And of course the original design of the wall was based around the monitor and the holes are already cut. :)
posted by MrBobaFett at 6:45 PM on June 19, 2008

Response by poster: thack3r, you know my manager has a 216BW on his computer. And I just hooked it up to the DVD player and you're right it does work. It gives me the not optimal error, but I can clear it. Now I'm just worried that if I can order 6 more of those I'll run into the same problem as the Acer. But I'll check it out.
posted by MrBobaFett at 5:09 AM on June 20, 2008

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