James Careless /
Knowing What to Look For in Flat-Panel Monitors
LCD now dominates the market
MULTIPLE CITIES: In the world of video production/editing, flat-panel liquid crystal
display monitors are taking over from bulky cathode ray tube
monitors. In fact, “The major shift from CRT to LCD flat-panel monitors
started about 10 years ago and now virtually all monitors sold are
LCD-based,” said Ramseen Evazians, Samsung Enterprise Business
Division’s manager of Commercial Displays.
At first glance, the only quality that seems to set flat-panel monitors
apart from each other is their relative sizes of their screens, but do
not be fooled. To paraphrase a line from George Orwell’s novel Animal
Farm, all flat panels are equal, but some are more equal than others. To
help find the best “more equal” flat-panel monitor for video production
possible, listed are some qualities to look for when making that
HOW FLAT PANELS WORK
Because understanding drives intelligent assessment, knowing how flat-panel monitors work is necessary to evaluate those units.
Fundamentally, “An LCD flat-panel monitor uses the
light-modulating properties of liquid crystals to display arbitrary
images,” said Steven Cooperman, a product manager for the Panasonic. That is essentially the
same basic technology used for a digital clock, except that arbitrary
images are made up of a large number of small pixels, while other
displays have larger elements, he added.
WHY USE A FLAT PANEL
Because it is still possible to purchase CRT monitors—some users believe
them to be superior to flat panels—asking why a flat-panel monitor
should be used is not a silly question. However, there is no denying the
many advantages of flat panels compared to CRTs. For instance, “They
take up less space on the desktop and are much easier to connect to new
technology and devices,” Evazians told Government Video. “They are also
better for the environment, as they use less power, plastic and
packaging, fewer hazardous materials and require less energy than CRT,”
and “current higher-end LCD monitors also create images that rival
virtually any CRT monitor,” he said.
THE CASE FOR QUALITY
It can be argued that any cheap flat-panel monitor will do and that
might be the case for running computer programs and surfing the Web, but
quality matters when it involves video production and editing. That is
because any video produced on a flat panel has the chance of being
viewed on the largest, most expensive and most demanding high-definition
If a flat panel is not good enough to enable a user to see everything
that is in the video—including color correction issues, poor focus and
digital artifacts—then those flaws could end up on the top-end screens
for everyone to see.
“Accuracy is very important, you don’t want an LCD monitor to hide or
mask defects in picture quality,” said Dave Walton, JVC Professional
Products’ assistant vice president of marketing and communications.
Professionals need to ensure the “monitor is large enough to show
defects that would be visible on a large-screen TV,” he said. In
addition, do not discount the importance of a wide viewing angle. “If
more than one person is viewing footage in an edit suite, you need to be
sure everyone is seeing the same image,” he said.
JVC’s DT-V24G11Z 24-inch LCD monitor is part of its Vérité G Series, and
it features a 3G/duallink HD/SD-SDI input for monitoring of 1080p/60
signals, plus component and composite inputs to accommodate legacy
equipment and a DVI-D input for Blu-ray playback. Its native1920x1200
LCD panel offers a 178-degree viewing angle with minimal color change
from different angles.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The qualities to look for in a quality flat-panel monitor or set of
monitors start with size. Be sure to acquire a screen that is
appropriate for an individual production/editing environment. That is
where higher quality, and higher priced, flat panels can be worth the
extra cost, because, unlike their low-end cousins, such monitors
typically incorporate superior image processing technology.
A reputable vendor can help with the details. Sufficed to say, the
screen should be large enough to view onscreen minutiae clearly, but not
so large that it overwhelms the ability to take everything in at one
glance. Put plainly, monitors in the 20-inch size are best for desktops
while monitors starting at 42 inches—and growing larger—are appropriate
for wall mounts and other more distant viewing applications.
“Resolution and screen size are the key factors,” said Evazians. “For
video production, higher contrast with better color accuracy also tends
to be critical,” he said. Samsung offers—for HD video production—its
S27A850D and S 27B970D flat-panel monitors. “Samsung’s 850 series and
970 series monitors are ideal for uses where high-resolution and color
accuracy are important, such as video, photography, graphic design and
said. The reason is “both the 850 series and 970 series feature
Samsung’s innovative LED PLS technology, which results in more accurate
color and better viewing angles, while consuming less energy than the
Nonetheless, deep, full blacks also matter, said Gary Litwin, Boland
Communications’ national sales director. Litwin recommends flat-panel
televisions that offer “wide/full off axis viewing, accurate color (and)
Boland offer its newest addition to the flat-panel monitor market, the
SE family of monitors which offers features that include 3G SDI, HD
HDMI/DVI(+HDCP), HD VGA, Composite and Component, plus 8 and 10 Bit
panels. Some SE models also come with LED backlights, plus analytical
tools such as Audio Bar Graph, Waveform, Vectroscope, Peaking and
Adjustable Frame Markers.
Flat-panel monitors that can be used with a multiple range of HD
formats—such as 1080p/i and 720p—have Cooperman’s recommendation.
“Flat-screen production monitors should boast an HD resolution, HD/SD
SDI and HDMI connectivity and 16:9 aspect ratio,” he said. “LCD flat
screen monitors should handle fast-motion content well and reduce image
blur to a low level,” he added.
The Panasonic BT-LH2170, a 21.5-inch LCD flat panel with native
1920x1080 HD resolution, netted awards at NAB thanks to its top-end
specs. They include a 3D look-up table that produces accurate colors and
smooth gradation, an ultra-rugged aluminum die-cast chassis,
mercury-free LED backlight, high brightness, 1,000:1 contrast and
powerful stereo 3D assist functionality for 3D review in the field.
Larry Enroth, ViewZ USA’s director of sales for broadcast and post
production, says flat panels offering “fast internal processing (of
either) 10 bit or 12 bit” to produce the best quality HD video,
especially for fast-moving images. Other qualities of a
production-quality flat panel include user-definable Color Temperature
settings, Gamma selectable settings, mono displays of Red, Green and
Blue, and Test & Measurement overlays that support Waveform,
Vectorscope and Y, CB, CR levels, he said.
The ViewZ USA VZ-215PM-3G is a 21-inch 3G-SDI video production monitor.
It offers 1920x1080 resolution, brightness rated at 250 cd/m2, and an
embedded HDMI-SDI/SDI-HDMI converter. This model offers a 178-degree
viewing angle both vertically and horizontally, making it highly useful
for editing and displaying video in a group situation.
Additionally, it is also recommend that users purchases flat-panel
monitors outfitted with function buttons that assure quick access to
value-added features such as pixel-to-pixel display, cross hatch, split
screen, audio level meters, time code and closed caption (from video)
displays, Cooperman said. “Rugged features are a final key purchasing
consideration (so) look for a flat-panel monitor with a production-tough
chassis,” he said.
LAST PIECES OF ADVICE
Plura Broadcast’s PBM
Remember, there are a lot of competing claims being made by flat-panel
monitor vendors, so users need to do their homework before making a
purchase, said Ray Kalo, Plura Broadcast’s president/CEO. “Customers
need to be educated about the panel technology behind the LCD monitor,”
Kalo said. “There are vast types of panels to be aware of (and)
customers should know the pros and cons of each to make the right
The PBM-S Plura Precision Broadcast LCD Series of flat panels are built
with “Grade A” LCD panels. Ranging in size from seven to 55 inches,
the PBM-S series supports native full HD resolution with high contrast
ratio, wide viewing angles, accurate color reproduction and quality
picture consistency. It features intelligent connection for Calibration
Alignment and Adjustable Colormetry and Gamma Correction.
In a tight economy vendors are often willing to make deals, so shop
around before signing on the dotted line because buyers can get some
good prices on the flat-panel monitors. Also, consider acquiring last
year’s model as long as it is new in the box and meets, or exceeds, an
organization’s needs. ~ from Government Video