The choice made by investors regarding the module of LED sign they want to purchase will vary based on the purpose for which the sign will be used. SMD and DIP modules are different in their own ways and do not have the same features. When a DIP screen is switched off, its visual appearance will be different to that of a turned off SMD screen. But when both are compared while switched on, their execution of display is very similar.
DIP (Direct In-line Package)
In a DIP display, the LED bulbs are separated from each other and are clearly visible. From every angle of the screen, the red LED, green LED and blue LED is visible. The DIP module is put together by using three bubble shaped color LED bulbs that are joined with two connector feet. Sockets or through-hole soldering is used to mount these DIP modules. With sockets, replacing the device is very simple and also there is no risk of damage caused by overheating (which occurs during soldering). After the assembling of DIP outdoor modules is done, heat-dissipating silicone is used to weather proof each module.
The LEDs used in this module are also in relief; this means that a non-homogenous contrast is sometimes exhibited as compared to some SMD modules which are flat and do not reflect any external light.
The DIP technology also proposes a “virtual pitch” technology. This consists of adding a fourth white LED to emphasize the definition and visibility of the screen. A DIP module digital screen will ideally produce about 4 lumens per LED. Because of these features, the DIP module does not allow visibility to go low and makes it a more globally robust option – hence being perfect for outdoor solutions. When compared to SMD modules, DIP is always the better option for outdoor use.
SMD (Surface Mounted Diode)
In an SMD module, the three colors of LED bulbs are encapsulated into one slim case which is directly soldered onto a circuit. The red, green and blue LEDs are visually regrouped into a single point, producing either the color black, or white. This point is either a circle or a square, which has a diameter of just a few millimeters. These modules can be made to as small as 1mm in size.
The LEDs are not directly visible in this module. The best screens in use today have reached a distance of about 1.6 millimeters between each point on the screen.
Because these diodes are mounted onto only one surface on the board, they are small and can be placed closer together. Closer placement results in a much higher resolution as compared to DIP modules and this is why SMD modules are more popularly used in indoor solutions. Although this module is beginning to develop focus on high definition outdoor digital devices, the main focus remains on indoor LED signs.
Pros and Cons:
- The technological advancements have played a major role in reducing the price gap between SMD and DIP modules. Yet, DIP modules are still the cheaper ones and are mostly used in outdoor LED signs.
- Due to the construction of DIP modules, they are better at withstanding various weather conditions and hence are preferred for outdoor LED solutions.
- For indoor use, SMD modules are better because the smaller pixels provide better color and amazing quality of text and images. The colors produced are much crispier, closely resemble the intended color and have better color uniformity.
- The maintenance required with SMD modules is higher and they have a shorter lifespan because of the heat dissipation issues in the way these modules are constructed.
- The pixels in SMD modules are dimmer and consume more power; roughly about 6500 NITs. Compared to this figure, DIP modules average at about 12000 NITs.
- The SMD chips are coated in white at the back and this affects the outcome of the color on the screen. For example, darker colors may have more of a grayish effect on SMD module screens.
- SMD modules are lightweight, have a much wider viewing angle and are more energy efficient.
- As a result of its features and being much less pixelated, SMD modules have a more natural end result (look and feel of an image on a digital display).
- With the use of efficient quantity mass production, cost savings is possible with SMD modules as labor costs will be reduced and scale of production will be larger. So although the costs are still slightly higher than DIP modules, the trend towards competitive pricing is on the rise.
Whatever the technology used in your digital display, one thing is common – each pixel consists of three LEDS: a red, green and a blue. There is no obvious solution to who wins the SMD vs. DIP match. It is only concluded that SMD modules are more often used in indoor solutions to obtain finer definitions. On the other hand, DIP modules are more robust and ideal for outdoor applications. Once the maximum viewing distance for looking at each of these screen types is reached, there is really no visible difference between the two technologies.