What is VESA?
Whenever you start shopping for a new piece of consumer electronic equipment for your home, it's common to come across a wide range of different terms and acronyms that you might not otherwise recognize. Everyone knows that HDTV stands for "high definition television," but how many people can really break down the finer points of things like contrast ratios, HDMI cables, 5.1, 7.1 or 9.1 surround sound and more?
Such is the case with VESA - a detail in the specs of a TV that will likely either be presented as "VESA Compatible" or "VESA Compliant" or, in certain cases, both. On the one hand, this can seem like yet another confusing term that you have to memorize to make sure that you're buying the right equipment. On the other hand, the term is actually relatively straightforward. It's simply designed to make the process of building the perfect home theater to fit your environment as easy and as precise as possible and, as a result, only requires you to keep a few quick things in mind.
What Does VESA Actually Mean?
VESA is an acronym that stands for "Video Electronics Standards Association." This is an organization responsible for computer and other visual display device standards that was founded all the way back in July, 1989 in San Jose, California.
Essentially, this is the group of people who are responsible for establishing standards in terms of computer graphics and how they're best displayed to give consumers like you the quality and experience that you're actually paying for. One of their first big moves in the consumer electronics world came by way of establishing the Super VGA display standard - something that was designed as a successor to IBM's VGA (video graphics array) display standard of the time. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, VGA had a maximum possible resolution of 640 by 480 pixels. Super VGA, on the other hand, supported a maximum graphics display resolution of 800 by 600 pixels - a 56% increase.
In a world where 4K television sets exist and even entry level displays can have resolutions of up to 3840 by 2160 pixels, Super VGA may not seem like that big of a deal - but you really have to applaud VESA for the massive leap forward this standard represented at the time.
Over the last several years, VESA has also expanded its objective to include standards for video peripherals and related accessories. This particular area is where you're most likely to encounter terms like "VESA compatible" these days.
What is the VESA Pattern on my TV?
The vast majority of TVs, computer monitors and related display devices purchased these days will come equipped with a VESA standard that is simply a set of measurement guidelines that you can use to make the mounting process as easy as possible. Yes, those same television sets will also come with specially designed stands that allow them to rest comfortably on something like a desk (in the case of a computer monitor) or TV stand (in the case of a television). But since the era of massive CRT TVs has ended and television sets are getting thinner and lighter all the time, mounting has become an incredibly popular option for just about everyone.
The VESA standard is simply a guideline for both hardware manufacturers and accessory companies to follow to make sure that their products are compatible with one another in that regard.
The VESA pattern, as a result, is precisely that - a pattern that you can use to match the right set up with the right mount to get it onto your wall as safely and as securely as possible. If you crack open your TV's instruction manual, for example, it might say that it is VESA compliant up to 400 by 400. This is a set of measurement guidelines presented in millimeters. As long as you can find a mount that does NOT have a mounting pattern exceeding 400 by 400 millimeters, it should be compatible with your television set.
Note the use of the term "should," as there are always certain exceptions to this type of rule. This level of universality is a general guideline that while most companies follow, some do not. Because of this, you're not always guaranteed a 100% exact fit. At the same time, you're definitely a lot better off than you would be without VESA.
If you take a look at some of the descriptions for FireFold TV mounts, for example, the exact mounting pattern - along with any relevant VESA compatible standards - are typically listed. This is done in an effort to make sure that you have a better idea of exactly which mounts will fit your particular television model while shopping, BEFORE you place an order. It doesn't do anybody any good if you purchase a mount, wait patiently for it to arrive in the mail and take it out of the box - only to THEN find out that it doesn't fit.
Other factors will always need to be taken into consideration while shopping - like the exact size of the screen you're working with and the precise weight of the TV in question - but generally speaking VESA compatibility represents an excellent starting point.
It's important to note that manufacturers are typically required to pay for VESA membership to "prove" their products comply with standards - something that has caused a fair share of controversy over the years. A company will have to prove that their equipment is compatible with VESA before it even hits the market. While the manufacturers themselves would undoubtedly like to change this process, it's one that definitely helps consumers so we really can't complain either way.
What Size are VESA Mount Screws?
The vast majority of today's flat panel displays will use a variation of the VESA MIS standard - either VESA MIS-D, VESA MIS-E, C or VESA MIS-F, C. These standards essentially relate to where the mounting holes themselves are positioned on the back of the monitor. In VESA MIS-D, for example, your display will be equipped with either a 100 by 100 millimeter or 75 by 75 millimeter square hole pattern. VESA MIS-E, C, on the other hand, uses a 200 by 100 millimeter rectangular hole pattern. The specific size of the TV or monitor in question will usually dictate which one of these variations you end up with.
The good news is that regardless of which variant of the standard you're actually working with, they all use M4 screws for the process of attaching the mount to the display.
In the end, it's clear that the many different VESA standards at play definitely serve their purpose. The process of buying a TV wall mount is easier than it otherwise would be and you can even order online with complete confidence knowing that your TV meets the guidelines for a particular mount. Though it may seem complicated, in reality it is fairly straightforward - something that we can always be thankful for whenever we start the process of upgrading our home theaters.