Rugged LCD Systems compared to Repackaged Consumer Grade Monitors

While in today’s uncertain economical climate, saving valuable financial resources is of paramount importance for many purchasing agents and project leaders, when selecting an LCD product intended for harsh environments and/or 365 x 24-hour per day usage, one should consider what the product they’re considering was truly intended to do.

Many “industrial-grade” product manufacturers sell on solely on ‘price’ and in doing so they must compete in terms of selling prices with other less-costly “industrial-grade” product manufacturers. How do they sell so cheaply? It’s simple….most repackage consumer grade off-the-shelf LCD monitors. They extract the LCD and electronics, reassemble them in cheaply made metal housings and call them Industrial Grade.

Hmmm, well let’s look at VarTech Systems for a moment. Certainly, VarTech could purchase these types of consumer grade products from the same distribution channels and repackage them in similar housings and enter the “cheaply made industrial grade LCD” marketplace. But VarTech’s business model is different and as such an alternate path was chosen in terms of engineering high-quality, innovative rugged computer systems and LCD products.

Let’s analyze the differences.

Product Operating Hours

VarTech’s Industrial, Marine and Military grade products have been engineered to withstand long operating hours with thermal characteristics considerations built into the overall design for proper heat dissipation. The majority of VarTech products are typically operated 24-hours everyday, 7-days per week, week-in and week-out each month, for years on end.

The internal “engine” of the repackaged Consumer grade “industrial” products are designed by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for limited time operation with the intent of long off times and are not appropriate for 24-hour use.

Electronic Design

In order to effectively combat 24/7/365 usage, high humidity environments, extended operational temperature applications, DC power spikes, etc., during the initial product design stages VarTech carefully considers each component to be utilized within a specific design so as to ensure that the finished product can withstand such harsh treatment.

The weakest electrical component within an “industrial” grade system dictates how effective the overall product will be in demanding applications. Use the cheapest integrated circuits, liquid crystal displays, power supplies, high-voltage inverters and you’ll have a product destined for problems. VarTech selects only the highest grade ‘parts’. The ruggedness of these internal componets and their inherent tolerance to harsh environments provide a display instrument with truly “industrial” capabilities.

In contrast, other manufacturers jockeying for price must utilize the cheapest cost components available in order to maintain a competitive price advantage in the “cheaply made industrial grade LCD” marketplace. This includes the use of low-to-mid-level LCD panels, controller boards, critical power components, etc.

Often the “budget-grade industrial” LCD company has no idea who even actually manufactured the most critical internal system components within “their” monitor as they simply purchased a plastic-desktop LCD, removed the plastic housing and transferred the LCD and existing electronics housing into their enclosure. There’s been no thought given to graphics chipsets, end-of-life (EOL) time-frames for components, integrated circuit quality, power supply and inverter reliability data, grade level of LCD panel, etc. VarTech, on the other hand, can explain in detail every component, its performance characteristics, EOL, etc.

Mechanical Design

Mechanics plays a crucial role in protecting the electronics of an “industrial” LCD product.

Bezels & Enclosures

VarTech engineered NEMA 4 (IP65) qualified bezels and enclosures are milled or machined from a high-grade solution heat treated aluminum alloy with a mechanical property of T6 temper 6061 which has an ultimate tensile strength of at least 42,000 psi (290 MPa) and yield strength of at least 35,000 psi (241 MPa). Most “budget-industrial” monitors utilize a much lesser grade softer aluminum alloy. Most of VarTech’s NEMA 4 frontal bezels are milled with two distinct beveled edges, one at the outer perimeter, the other at the LCD window. Both areas are gasket-sealed, each with a ONE-piece design of high quality, closed cell sealing gland. Most “budget” displays are ‘sealed’ with strips of gasket material. As thermal dynamics take effect, pressure differentials are created from temperature variations. This causes a lot of stress on gaskets and where each ‘strip’ of gasket ends gaps will form. These gaps will allow contaminants and possibly the ingress of liquids to enter the device and damage the components. So, a typical “budget” LCD monitor will have 8-gap areas; 4 at the outer perimeter and 4 at the LCD window. Since VarTech utilizes only a ONE-piece design, there are no gaps in either area.

NEMA 4X (IP66) Qualified Bezels and Enclosures
Most “budget” products are constructed of a 304 grade stainless steel. VarTech uses only type-316 which has an alloy addition of molybdenum which prevents most forms of corrosion. It is also known as marine grade stainless steel due to its increased resistance to chloride corrosion compared to type 304. Many people are surprised to find that “stainless” steel can be stained by chicken blood and several chemicals commonly used throughout various industrial environments. This is the case for type-304 ss. But the more resilient type-316 tends to be more tolerant of these abrasive agents.

Thermal Management Considerations
Varying operational temperature extremes will have a negative impact on electronics. So, VarTech utilizes a number of unique thermal management systems which makes the displays fit for the harshest temperature environments. Some of VarTech’s models can even operate effectively for long periods of time at -40°C / -40°F MIL-STD-810F to +70°C / +160°F MIL-STD-810F. “Budget” type products certainly don’t offer such safeguards.

LCD Module Selection

As devices for displaying various types of information and images in many diverse environments, customers are demanding greater sophistication and diversity from displays. To meet the growing demand for higher image quality, greater energy efficiency, and improved environmental performance such as greater resistance to shock and vibration and operational temperature capabilities, VarTech selects only the highest quality LCD modules. The results are easily seen in outstanding image reproduction, vivid images in any ambient light environment, wider viewing angles, greater color gamut and much, much more. Original Equipment Manufacturers of amorphous-silicon color thin-film-transistor (TFT) liquid crystal display (LCD) modules take into account the special needs of the industrial market and leverage cutting edge technology and cultivated know-how that it then uses in the design of their advanced true “Industrial Grade” LCD modules.

Here again in contrast, the low-end ‘industrial’ display “manufacturers” must purchase only cheaply made office/home grade LCD panels.


Consumer grade budget displays generally offer only the bare minimum in terms of notable features. For instance, “budget” models typically offer 1 or 2 video input capabilities such as VGA and DVI only. Most VarTech products offer a comprehensive selection of video (NTSC/PAL/SECAM) and computer input capabilities from HD15 (VGA), Mini Din 4-way (S-Video), Composite (BNC), DVI, Component YPbPr, SD Component YCbCr, and even sync-on-green. Additionally, VarTech’s unique OSD 8-button control system allows the client one-touch setting, including single-button toggle selection through each input, dedicated single function hot-buttons settings for brightness control, contrast, and many others. Many models offer selectable aspect ratios and image scaling as well.

“Budget” models are generally only offered with set 110/220 V AC power capabilities. With VarTech units, a client will have the choice of wide ranges of AC and DC configurations, from fixed 12V DC to unregulated 9 to 36 VDC to universal 90-264VAC.

Additional Modifications as a Total Solution Provider

VarTech understands the challenges of meeting exact application requirements.

LCD Enhancements Include:

  • High-Luminance (both CCFL & LED)
  • Optical Film Stack Integration
  • Optical Bonding (VBOND)
  • Touch Screen Options
  • EMI/RFI Filter Integration
  • Hydrophobic Topcoating
  • ITO & Mesh Heaters
  • Vandal Shields

Other Available Options Include:

  • Conformal Coating of all Electronics
  • Private Labeling
  • Mechanical and/or Electrical Customizations
  • Environmental & Compliance Testing

Quality Control & System Testing

VarTech designs a wide range of rugged displays for various harsh applications. At all stages of the production process, VarTech’s display solutions are rigorously tested to ensure compliance with various Industrial, Marine and Military standards for application in hostile environments.

Additionally, as an ISO-registered manufacturer, VarTech Systems has adopted stringent quality standards. When you purchase a product or service from VarTech Systems, you have important assurances that the quality of what you receive will be as you expect. Additionally, we adhere to set standards, quality objectives, continual improvement, and monitoring of customer satisfaction that provides our customers with increased assurances that their needs and expectations will be met.

We have implemented plans for:

  • Policy
  • Procedures
  • Work Instructions
  • Corrective Action
  • Preventive Action
  • Design Control
  • Document Control
  • Statistical Process
  • Management Review

Since adopting these procedures, we have experienced significant reductions in operating costs and increased demand for our products and services. Other benefits include better working conditions, increased market share and increased profits.


With its continuous and focused R&D efforts, VarTech Systems is always breaking new ground in the field of rugged display technology. VarTech combines its proven and low-risk rugged components with the latest advancements in display technology, such as LED backlight technology and VarTech’s unique thermal management systems, to provide the most trusted displays for harsh environmental conditions, mission critical applications, and real-world needs.

So, would you rather a “Repackaged” Product or a VarTech solution? A difference you can see.

A “Repackaged” Consumer Grade Product

or The VarTech Solution