The venerable CRT monitor is coming to the end of its lifespan. The shock is how quickly this seems to be happening. Most experts are steadfast in their support of the CRT as the best possible picture quality assessment tool. But its near disappearance from the floor of NAB2007 seems to align with the reality that a growing number of eyes prefer the look of LCD displays over CRT monitors. LCD monitors have come a long way in providing performance that can be called satisfactory or even fully acceptable, thanks to advances in liquid crystal and processing technologies. Add to this the 2002 EU directive on eliminating heavy metals in new electrical and electronic equipment after July 2006, and the stage is set for the LCD transition.

Widening the gamut

Sony showed its BVM-L230 monitor series based on the company's TRIMASTER technology, which seeks to duplicate CRT performance with LCD technology. The 23in monitor incorporates a newly developed wide color gamut panel, color management system, full HD resolution, high gray-scale gradation, motion picture response, precision signal processing and a built-in calibration system.

The monitor's LED backlighting system offers a wider color gamut than that found in any CRT. The backlight system also incorporates a uniformity control function and a color feedback system that constantly monitors and compensates for color shifts, maintaining accurate luminance uniformity equal to the BVM CRTs. At a stated peak screen brightness of 100cd/m2, the monitor will mostly be used in the slightly darkened viewing areas common to professional video evaluation and monitoring.

The monitor includes several features designed for professional monitoring requirements, including a new color space selection function, advanced picture-and-picture display and a true interlace display mode, which helps to accurately reproduce interlaced signals. In this mode, each interlaced field is displayed using alternating lines of black, simulating the appearance of an interlaced CRT. Separately, a black frame insertion mode significantly reduces motion blur by combining a 120Hz frame rate and black frame insertion between image frames.

The LCD panel has a 10-bit driver and can produce 1024 levels of gray scale, making the monitor ideal for high-end monitoring applications, including digital cinema, digital intermediate, telecine and post production, as well as program and preview monitoring in broadcast master control rooms or in OB trucks.

It displays SD and HD formats up to 1080/60P, 2048 × 1080/24P for digital cinema applications and VGA-WUXGA (1920 × 1200) PC signals. It offers a direct pixel-to-pixel mode that precludes any conversion process. The monitor connectivity options include a standard DVI-D input. Optional inputs include HD-SDI/SDI (4:2:2 10 bit and 4:4:4 10 or 12 bit), composite, Y/C, RGB/YPBPR/XYZ, and dual-link HD-SDI. A 42in version is planned for next year.

Fast focus

Panasonic debuted its BT-LH80W 7.9in 16:9 HD/SD LCD monitor for studio and field applications. The monitor features low processing delay and converts interlaced signals to progressive signals within one field time. The 800 × 450 pixel resolution monitor is compatible with multiple HD/SD formats, including 1080/24PsF, 1080i, 720p, 480p and 480i. A Focus-in-Red function displays the edges of the focused area in red when sharp focus is achieved. Pixel-to-Pixel mode allows the user to see an input signal pixel by pixel without any resizing, effectively confirming an image in a size equivalent to a 19in wide-screen display (with a 1080/60i input signal). Both functions can be used at the same time.

Picture perfect

Ikegami showed its HLM-1710WR, a 17in HD/SD multiformat color monitor that integrates an LCD panel with a significantly improved total angle of view of 170 degrees. The monitor also provides improved rendition of flesh tones and other visuals that demand critical viewing in broadcast TV and professional video studios.

Multiple vision

JVC introduced the DT-V9L1D 9in and DT-V17L2D 17in HD flat-panel professional monitors designed for broadcast, studio and field applications. These monitors incorporate JVC's digital 1080p 10-bit image processor for scaling, deinterlacing and color processing. The rack-mountable studio monitors feature 16:9 aspect ratios, wide viewing angles, high-speed LCDs and advanced color reproduction. In addition, the monitors accept full range HDTV and SDTV input signals through their built-in HD-SDI, component and composite inputs, and feature professional functions, such as area markers, tally lights, AC/DC power supply and rotary image controls.

In daylight

Daylight-viewable LCD monitors from several manufacturers are available in small camera-mounted units, as well as full-sized 20in displays. Boland's DayBrite monitor provides a screen brightness of up to 1800cd/m2 and contrast ratio of 480:1, while Marshall's SunBrite incorporates a proprietary optical design that boosts the efficiency of the backlight's light use and minimizes the surface reflection of ambient light.

What's next? We've already seen ultra high definition from NHK, but the consensus is that any practical use of such a system is years away. Still, that's what they said about HDTV just a few years ago.

Aldo Cugnini is a consultant in the digital television industry.