Ever since I bought my first NFT, I wanted to share it with my friends and family, sucking them in with the art and winning converts to the NFT movement. It was the art that sucked me into NFT’s and I wanted to share the unique compositions of digital art in a beautiful way. There is no better way to discuss the revolution of NFT’s as a means of digital asset ownership and empowering digital artists than when standing in front of a wall of striking digital art. Since then, I’ve gone all in on digital displays.
I decided to write this post, as I often get asked about my displays within my #weeklywallartist posts on Twitter. I’ve made it a habit of highlighting an artist each week on our BlueCanvas display wall, as the killer feature of digital displays is the option to change the art as often as you want. With well over 800 works in the collection now, I love cycling through them and finding new compelling artists to experience in real life each week. I’ve invested in 3 display options (Meural x3 , BlueCanvas x 4, and Samsung Frame x 2), so will share my thoughts on features and installation for each. I have also ordered two more (Token Frame, Qonos) and plan to order the Mono X7. If there are any other options I should consider, please add them in the comments. I’m also not going to get into the specifics of the display technology or technical details on the image quality. That information is available online, I will focus on my impressions and how fit for NFT’s they are.
*Note, the Qonos site has gone quiet, so it’s not clear if it will ever be released.
First, let’s review aspect ratios. Most displays are in the standard TV aspect ratio of 16:9. Almost no NFT’s are in a 16:9 ratio. Square is proving to be the most popular ratio, with almost all avatars in a square format as well as a significant percent of 1:1 art, most notably on HEN. This presents a conundrum. I look forward to seeing the market fill the gap on alternative aspect ratios, but today, the options are very limited. As a result, I only have 5 displays that are 16:9 (3 vertical, 2 horizontal) and 4 square displays The display wall that I get the most use of is our BlueCanvas wall, but it is the lowest quality display of the 3. It’s simply the only square option, and the majority of my 800+ NFT collection is in a square format. I’m also particular about ensuring that the art fills the frame. As a result, I edit all of my NFT’s to a 16:9 aspect ratio for the 16:9 frame. This severely limits the number of NFT’s that work within the Meural frames particularly. The Samsung Frames are large enough and have a nice Matte feature, but even then, I often edit for the perfect fit.
BlueCanvas ($799 26.5x26.5) NFT Usability: 8/10 Quality 5/10
The BlueCanvas is the lowest quality of the three, but also my favorite display. Let me explain. It is the most fit for purpose. Being the only square display, it has the largest assortment of NFT’s that fit natively. I’ve had no issues with image formatting for the frame, and it has the smallest bezel. With the right art, it is the most visually dramatic option. The small bezel and unfamiliar aspect ratio really make it pop for someone who sees it for the first time. My perfect frame would be this format, zero bezel but much higher quality construction, so now to the downsides.
The actual bezel of the Bluecanvas is a very cheap looking plastic. They ship the BlueCanvas with a frame that you attach around the display, but I found that to look even cheaper and preferred the very small Bezel to a large pseudo-wood frame. The bezel isn’t something you notice when the display is on. The display itself runs pretty hot, and I have occasionally found one of them has randomly turned off. This happens maybe once a month, so not a frequent issue. I’ve been running them continuously for 5 months now. The display quality is also not comparable to the best modern displays. It works best with vibrantly colored art. The blacks wash out as the minimum brightness of the display is pretty bright. The blacks aren’t very black.
One display did show a faulty line after 5 months of usage. I ordered a 5th display to swap out on the main wall, but that’s not a good sign. I have reached out to the vendor but have not yet resolved a replacement.
For the BlueCanvas there is an app and you can use the website. BlueCanvas is a Korean company, and not all of the pages are translated. Once you get past that hurdle, it’s a pretty easy setup. I use the website exclusively now, as it’s the easiest way to manage the art is to create a collection (you can create a maximum of 12), fill a collection with the art you wish to display, then assign it to a display. It can be clunky at times, but I can now swap my full collection out in a few minutes and never have formatting issues. For the BlueCanvas and Meurals, you can set a timer for when they turn on or off each day. You can also set how frequently images rotate, but there is one bug on the BlueCanvas displays, if you mix videos and GIF’s, it will only cycle the videos one time. So if you have a 5 second video loop, it will only play it once versus cycling it for the time that you wish. I typically post GIF’s and static images, but if you upload a video, you can’t mix it with other content.
Meural NFT Usability: 6/10 Quality 7/10
The Meural is a higher quality display versus the BlueCanvas, but visually, I find it less compelling, with the rather large edge to the frame. You can set it up via app or web, but I’ve found the website to be much easier. Similarly to the BlueCanvas, you can adjust almost any setting you might want, including on/off timers and transition speed between images. I have had many more issues getting works to display correctly on the Meural, which is a big negative to the overall experience. I have a ‘Meural’ folder on my computer in which I reformat and adjust works to get them to display on the Meural. Most significantly, I reformat most works to fit within the 16:9 aspect ratio. Very few of my NFT’s are in this aspect ratio, so that significantly limits the works on display. That said, if this same exact display was in square format with a thin bezel, it’d be my choice. The display quality is higher with a better anti-glare coating, the interface is nicer, and it has nice additional features, including information cards that you can pull up on each work and a motion control feature with which you can swipe between images by waving your hand in front of the bezel.
Samsung Frame TV’s NFT Usability: 5/10 Quality 9/10
The frame TV’s are the highest quality option with the best dollar value, but they also have the least utility for displaying NFT’s. They don’t natively support video, and uploading images has been unreliable via the app, with the SmartThings app refusing to load my photo library more often than not, forcing me to use USB drives to upload images. Samsung has their own service for $4.99 a month that provides digital images, and despite having displays readymade to be the NFT gold-standard, they not shown any sign of embracing NFT’s.
That said, we use our primary Frame TV as the living room TV, and the audio is surprisingly good, the mount is flush, the native app is easy to use. It’s a great TV and great static NFT display, but I rarely switch the NFT’s on display.
If you don’t like seeing the wires, it’s a bit of work to get a clean setup like this. For all the installations, I mocked up the monitor location first with painter’s tape, to get a good sense of the positioning.
I then installed the monitors with the wires exposed to validate placement and get the mounts dialed in.
I then cut holes and mounted grommets and wall boxes as needed to run the wires and have the plugs sit within the wall.
I used a professional electrician to run wires through the wall and mounted a Chief Wall Box behind the middle display for my two primary walls. It’s not difficult work, but requires cutting holes in the walls, patching, and running wires. If you aren’t fairly handy, hire an electrician and a contractor to patch and paint the walls. I did a portion of the electrical and patch work, but used professionals for 70% of the work.
That’s my NFT display journey so far, I plan to keep adding displays and exploring new tech as it comes to market. I would love to hear from anyone with new ideas or approaches to displaying NFT’s. Follow and DM me on Twitter @Beldrueger