- The Washington Times - Friday, August 26, 2016

The electromechanical flipboard display that is iconic of modern rail travel for so many will soon be a thing of the past in the City of Brotherly Love

The Solari Board, named for an Italian designer, will be replaced by a digital board that is easier for commuters to read and less costly and time-consuming to repair, Amtrak spokesman Mike Tobert told Philadelphia magazine.

Amtrak’s move to replace the 30th Street station’s display is leaving fans mourning the loss of an analog holdover in an age saturated with digital media, the magazine observed, citing various reactions on social media.

But beyond the nostalgia factor, according to flip-clock.net, electromechanical departure boards have a few inherent advantages over electronic displays.

“The flap display doesn’t require specific lighting conditions for viewing,” notes the website. “It remains clearly visible even under very strong lighting, which makes it an ideal choice for outdoor purposes (e.g. outdoor railway stations and bus terminals) compared to many digital LEDs or LCDs, which are rather sensitive to lighting conditions.”

Additionally, “[y]ou can see the information on a flap display at literally any angle,” unlike some electronic displays which are harder to read unless the viewer is directly in front of it, the site says.

While train stations — in the United States at least — are phasing out the old-school flipboard displays, the inherent hipster may promise to breathe new life into the design and generate fresh business for display makers.

Restaurant Champeaux, a new brasserie in Paris, has adopted the flipboard for its dining room wall, according to a blog post for Solari Lineadesign.

“Like a metronome of the brasserie life, the scoreboard at Solari palette, which is 8.6 meters long and 1.5 meters high, flows and is in direct interaction with the kitchen,” the Italian display maker explains. “It also displays menu listings, provides timing for food and drink arrival, lists dish specials and it also showcases the Chef’s favorite food preferences.

“Its unmistakable sound accompanies travelers in airports, stations and subways around the world. Those who want to take home a piece of this monumental atmosphere, can do so thanks to Solari Lineadesign,” the company concluded with a bit of a sales pitch.

• Ken Shepherd can be reached at kshepherd@washingtontimes.com.

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