MagicMirror² v2.8.0 is available! For more information about this release, check out this topic.

Sourcing displays cheaply?



  • I took apart my monitor to see what it was made of. It’s composed of:

    1. The LCD panel
    2. The controller
    3. A power supply
    4. Possibly optional - buttons to turn the monitor on/off that plug into the controller
    

    alt text

    Now, here is the amazing thing. That display is from an acer 223w that I bought in 2009 for $130. The LCD panel used in that monitor is a Samsung LTM220M1-L01. Guess how much one of those panels costs today in 2019? Let’s say a minimum of $170
    (1, 2, 3)
    and that’s just the panel.

    I’ve checked on Alibaba and it’s a similar situation. The LCD panels are usually pretty darn expensive even if you buy in bulk. It’s actually cheaper to buy a whole monitor of the same size as the panel.

    Using etsy as a reference $250 for 22"+ seems like the typical price point. But adding up the cost of components:

    $30 lumber
    $25 glass and reflective film
    $35 raspberry pi
    $10 paint/glue/stains
    $20 cables and wires
    $5 motion sensor
    $10 SD Card

    is $130 before you include the display. By the time you add the display you’re basically doing it for free. But if you could get a 22"+ monitor for less than $100 you might be able to work out some kind of profit margin. I think it only makes sense to use new displays so you can avoid the problems with used displays:

    • loss of brightness
    • inconsistent design meaning each case would have to be different
    • different connection types *hdmi, dvi, vga
    • safety concerns (is this one going to catch on fire)
    • time spent finding them grows O(n)
    • there will be duds, there will be bad deals, etc.
    • less information about the displays, scratches, unknown lifespan, etc. etc. etc.

    So using new displays seems like the better approach to me. Further, building the display from components seems like it should be cheaper than ripping apart a monitor. Yet, that’s not what I’m seeing so far.


  • Project Sponsor

    I hate to be the naysayer, but do remember that depending on your country you may not be able to sell Magic Mirrors as a business. The patent holder on the technology is a Japanese company, I believe. You can make them for personal use & gifts but you can’t sell them as a business without paying them royalties. @MichMich is probably the best person to ask about such things as I believe he went down the rabbit hole and looked into it.

    Now, if you want tips on how to save money on your personal mirrors, that’s a great idea. I have found that careful browsing of thrift stores, pawn shops, government auctions and charity retail outlets (Habit For Humanity, Salvation Army, etc.) is a good place to get cheap (if older) LCDs.