The TVLogic LVM-173W Broadcast LCD Monitor
The 17-inch LCD monitor seems to have become one of the main sweet spots in HD production. It is—if light enough—reasonably portable for shooters to use in the field or studio; it is also a reasonable size for use at an editing desk; and it's a convenient size for individual or small group client/directorial review.
One of the newest additions to the 17-inch LCD field is from the 10-year-old company TVLogic, which has rapidly developed and manufactured a large line of high quality video monitors of all sizes.
The LVM-173W is a multi-format broadcast monitor, featuring a 17-inch (diagonal) LCD with a resolution of 1366x768 pixels. It weighs in at about 15.5 pounds, and is some 3.5 inches thick—inside a plastic case. Itcomes mounted on a secure, pivoting metal stand for desktop use, and has a convenient carrying handle on top and mounting points on the back. The LVM-173W uses a high-quality 12-bit video processing architecture that yields superior scaling and deinterlacing for image critical monitoring. The wide range of inputs on the monitor includes HDMI (standard- and high-definition), DVI-I (RGB), analog (three BNC's that can carry composite, S-video, or component signals), and two SDI ports, which can carry 4:4:4 dual link HD-SDI (optionally), HD and SD SDI, and 2K. It is comfortable with all commonly used frame rates (23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, progressive, interlaced, and psf), and PAL and NTSC standards. Both analog and digital inputs have looping outputs. Audio inputs are provided for embedded digital (the de-embedder is built-in, not an optional extra) or mini-plug analog; outputs are a headphone jack (mini-plug) and tiny internal stereo speakers.
Power is provided through either the standard AC port (at 100-240 VAC) or via the four-pin XLR connection (12—24 VDC) on the back of the unit. The monitor draws about 65 Watts.
Front panel controls are nicely lit (when activated) push buttons and solid-feeling knobs. These include: input selection, aspect, markers, over/underscan, H/V sync, blue only/focus assist, phase/closed captions, waveform/vectorscope, menu, and then the standard knobs, which include: aperture, brightness, chroma, contrast, and volume.
Menu controls are extensive and what you would expect from a high-end, broadcast grade monitor. However, some of these deserve further highlighting and explication. Waveform monitor and vectorscope functions are built in and can be displayed individually, or side-by-side, with a controllable amount of transparency. The monitor also provides six channels of audio metering, with information available at various locations and in various configurations around the screen.
The LVM-173W, properly displays complex pop-up closed captioning, as well as standard 608/708 captioning. This line of monitors may be the only ones with this capability built in. The Scan button also offers access to 1:1 pixel mapping mode—a very useful feature for critical focus checks. A 2:1 magnification mode is also available.
The entire line of TVLogic monitors provides auto-color calibration using their optional TVLogic Color Calibration Utility software (MSRP $995), which works with a range of professional color probes.
I used the LVM -173W both in my studio and on location to great advantage. In the studio, I connected it to my Media100 edit system, which features a Kona 3 board for I/O. The colors of the TVLogic monitor were quite natural, with rich blacks and shadows and smooth gradients. The field of view was quite wide, and it was easy to see a sharp image from quite an oblique angle both horizontally and vertically. I was able to easily get the monitor calibrated, and set up to my preferences and needs, complete with audio meter and scopes display, along with safe area. The way in which the menus are set up makes it easy to recall and dismiss them with a single push of a button.
And while the built-in speakers are not great, they do function for signal checking, and it's very handy to have a way to directly monitor embedded SDI audio without having to spring for an extra (and often expensive) add-on unit.
In the field, I used the LVM-173W in connection with a puppet show shoot. The prime requirement was to capture the images of the show's characters with exquisite detail and to show some subtle lighting moments. This was challenging, as the theatre was small, steeply raked, and very crowded. Critical camera focus was key. The secondary focus monitoring was needed to keep up with the small aperture adjustments necessary to maintain consistent and accurate exposure. I was wedged into my position, along with tripod, audio rig, and camera, and felt like a sardine. However, I was able to hang the monitor beneath the tripod's legs. This provided a great viewing angle and good ergonomics for working the camera and checking the monitor display.
The camera's viewfinder is small and it was a great luxury to have a 17-inch display for focusing. The monitor was accurately viewable, even from the weird angle that I had rigged it at. In using the LVM-173W as a reference while shooting, I found—on playback and editing—that my exposure changes were more accurate and subtle than might have been the case with just the viewfinder.
During this particular shoot I powered both camera and monitor with AC, so the 65 Watts of power that it draws was not an issue. However, this could be a concern when it's used in connection with battery-powered sessions.
The LVM-173W is a top grade, professional monitor in every sense. It's easy to use and to adjust (even easier when using the auto-calibrate features), produces an accurate, beautiful picture, and has all the features needed to function in a studio, edit suite, or as a location monitor for shooting or review. TVLogic provides monitors in a wide range of sizes, configurations, and prices. If the 17-inch version is not appropriate for your needs, odds are that another in the line will be. The quality and practicality will not disappoint.
Michael Hanish operates Free Lunch, a video/audio/multimedia production house near Guilford, Vt. He may be contacted at [email protected].