How to Choose the Right Screen for Data Presentation

Spreadsheets. Love them or loathe them, the fact of the matter is that we all have to deal with them in meetings. And we all know this kind of data is highly detailed, each cell or line could hold a vital key to the company’s future. Whether your meeting centres around financial reporting to senior board members and investors, or your team is analysing web analytics, traffic or consumer engagement statistics, visualising and interpreting the minutiae is paramount.

But without the right display screen, there’s a very real risk that your team could miss out on these all-important details. Finding the right display or touch screen for your meeting room or boardroom is essential when figures and analytics are the core premise of your business.

But where do you start? When it comes to displaying data, you need the highest screen resolution possible and we’ll explain why.

Screen Resolution – The Basics

We’ve delved into the fundamentals about screen resolution elsewhere; for a full breakdown of screen specifications, read Choose the Right Screen – Introduction to Resolution.

But let’s sum things up quickly here. Most people understand now that a higher resolution means a better quality image but knowing exactly what resolution will be enough for your needs is where the challenge lies. Resolution is measured in pixels – the tiny dots that together comprise an onscreen picture – and the higher the number of pixels the sharper and more precise the information displayed will appear. Therefore, high-definition or HD is what you’ll need to look for at the very least when presenting detailed documents on screen. But it’s not quite that simple - just how high definition do you need to go?

A screen with a resolution of 1080p is 1,920 pixels wide and 1,080 pixels tall. This is five times the clarity of standard definition, or SD, and is defined as Full HD or True HD. To be frank, HD is the bare minimum you can consider if the screen is needed for data analysis, spreadsheets and other such detail-focused activities, there really isn’t a choice here.

And with that in mind when you’re presenting this highly detailed data, while HD is the ‘minimum’, 4K is the optimum.

Next Level Definition

4K Ultra High Definition resolution, or 4K UHD, is one of the sharpest screen displays on the market. The term means that that display in question has a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels.

What this really means to the meeting participants is that they can see more of the spreadsheet, gantt chart or data visualisation on the screen, without scrolling around their work.

It all depends on the input device of course, but by choosing a 4K screen you’ve essentially got more pixels to play with and a much higher chance of the on-screen content being produced perfectly - rather than “interpreted” by a lower resolution screen and muddying or blurring the image by spanning pixels.

If you’re looking for a product recommendation, then the ViewSonic CDE8452T is particularly interesting given that it’s also a touchscreen, so it’s a great choice if teams are collaborating on a detailed task. It’s certainly not a budget option, but at 84-inches diagonal with excellent image clarity for minute detail in a spreadsheet or financial report, this screen should be a welcome addition to your team’s toolkit.

Despite its 84-inch diagonal screen size, a display like the ViewSonic CDE8452T doesn’t suffer from looking pixelated up close so, during collaborative annotation, pixel clarity isn’t compromised - which is a risk with lower resolution screens of this size.

To see a full selection of similar 4K screens click here.

Beyond Resolution - PPI

Pixels Per Inch (PPI) is a massive consideration for the presentation of data and spreadsheets. Whereas resolution is simply a count of pixels, PPI is a more realistic measure of how sharp an image is - taking into account both the screen size and the resolution.

If you’re investing in a 65 inch screen for your financial or project management meetings then a full HD screen gives you 33 pixels per inch. A 4K screen gives you 67 pixels per inch, meaning that (if the input device is capable) the actual image is more than twice as clear. This is particularly noticeable when you’re closer to the screen, so even more important if you’re using a touch screen, your audience is close by and you need them to be engaged in the detail.

More than Just Pixels

Remember, the best quality data presentation isn’t just about the best screen resolution. How visible the content displayed really is also boils down to screen size and screen positioning within the room. To ensure that an audience has the best possible view of the screen, your display should be central to the audience and for a permanent room layout with little room for manoeuvre, a fixed wall mount is the best solution for a flat-panel. These can also be adjusted to suit a variety of screen sizes.

We’ve discussed screen size selection here in detail. But in summary, when you’re specifying a screen for data and spreadsheet presentation and discussion, then we’d recommend that the screen height is no less that four times the viewing distance of the furthest participant.

We’ve got a handy calculator for distance here, and one for screen size if you've already shortlisted here. But as an example, if your furthest meeting attendee is 300cm away, this means the screen height should be 75cm (or more).

When translated into a diagonal size for specification, this works out to be a 61 inch screen minimum - so best to go for a 65 inch screen.

Finally, make sure that the team have access to HDMI cables with recent specifications to ensure that they can carry a 4K signal. There’s no point investing in a high quality display screen without providing the tools to actually carry it from the input device to the screen. HDMI is common on laptops and PCs - the most common devices a scientific or data-driven team are likely to be using - so it makes sense to focus on providing this as the key connection to the display screen.

Could the Wrong Screen Be Costly?

Simply put, yes. If you’re analysing highly detailed information, the wrong screen is not only a costly initial purchase gone wrong; the real expense lies in the ongoing impact of forcing your team to work with a screen that isn’t up to scratch for their needs. It’s frustrating that in the era of retina devices and high resolution touchscreen laptops, the meeting room equipment isn’t in perfect alignment.

Studies have repeatedly shown that productivity can be dramatically improved by the provision of a high-resolution screen; it seems that the easier it is for teams to see the content under discussion, the more willing and proactive they are when it comes to working with the material and moving forward.

If the content your teams are looking at is incredibly detailed to start with, asking them to struggle to see that detail is a recipe for disaster. If you’re working with data,  there’s the added risk of recording information from a screen inaccurately, potentially creating false assumptions and analysis. If detail is the focus, then high resolution is paramount.