Wohler’s RMQ-230-3G quad HD 23-inch monitor
Dependable, accurate, and flexible monitoring is at the heart of any production enterprise. The operator, director, and/or editor have to know that what they see is what they will get in terms of shot, color, video quality, and audio (among other factors).
Not too long ago, multiscreen, multiinput monitoring was the province only of well-financed suites and trucks. First, there were banks and banks of various sized CRTs and complex routing systems, recently replaced by low-power flat screens and multiscreen display processors. The latest twist to the trend involves monitors that can simultaneously display multiple inputs (without an external processor box), vastly cutting down clutter and saving space and conserving power in often cramped quarters.
One of the newest entries into the quad monitor field is Wohler’s RMQ-230-3G, part of the RMQ line of 17- to 23-inch quad input LCD monitors.
The RMQ-230-3G is a 23-inch (diagonal) LED backlit LCD monitor housed in a strong steel case. It weighs 16 pounds and draws 65 watts of power from a 110-220 VAC (or, with adaptor, 12 V) source. The LCD screen has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 square (0.265 mm) pixels and displays in 24-bit (16.7 million colors) depth, with an advertised contrast of 1000:1, luminance of 250 cd/m2, and viewing angle of 178 degrees. Viewing specs are born out in practice, but more about that below.
There are four autosensing 3G/HG/ SD SDI BNC channel inputs (with loopthrough) on the rear panel, along with an HDMI input, (alternative input for channel one) and an HDMI output (which sends the main display image without any menus to an external monitor). There’s provision for four analog stereo audio pairs and one stereo analog audio output (on RCA plugs). In addition, there’s a DB-9 port for tally lights, and a pair of RJ-45 ports for external control input and output round out the I/O connections. The HDMI input does not provide audio, but can be used with an adaptor to make a DVI-D connection to a computer as a monitor.
Front panel controls are minimal. Four individual buttons select inputs 1 through 4 for full-screen viewing; two programmable hot keys double as menu navigation keys. Discreet buttons provide power on/ off, menu activation, enter/select function, HDMI/DVI toggle, and a single view/ quad modes (four equal-sized views, and a single large and three small views) toggle. The programmable hot keys can toggle on or off the markers, audio meters, waveform/ vectorscope, blue-only mode, scan, aspect ratio, or H/V delay. Parameters for each of the hot key selections are set in the menus. An 1/8-inch headphone jack sends the output signal to phones while muting the builtin speakers.
Onscreen displays are configurable through menu selections. Timecode, when present, can be displayed in each viewer window. The user can choose to show audio level meters (as many as 16 channels per source, reference and overload levels can be preset) with safe and clipping indicators in three-color LED-style bar graphs. The user also has control over some aspects of configuration of in-monitor display of sources, waveform monitor and/or vectorscope.
Menus are also allow display characteristics to be set. Markers for center, aspect area, and safe area can be configured and set. Monitor color temperature and bias, backlight brightness, phase, and aperture (sharpness) can also be set in a user configuration menu. Menu language choices are Chinese and English. When there are no onscreen menus being displayed, the user can hit the “Enter” button to adjust monitor volume, brightness, contrast, and chroma levels.
I used the RMQ-230-3G extensively for several weeks in my edit/post studio, and significantly on a couple of four-camera shoots. Studio use was first. I connected my nVidia Quadro-equipped MacPro edit machine to the monitor with a DVI-D to HDMI adaptor at the monitor’s HDMI “in” port. As noted above, the HDMI input is an alternate input for Channel 1. Whether Channel 1 was the only input displayed on screen or one of four displayed in a quad view, the desktop display was crisp and clear. I then took advantage of the monitor’s Channels 2 and 3 to display the two SDI outputs from my AJA Kona 3 card. All views were clear and usable in either version of the quad display (equal four-way split or 1 large, 3 small). Though it was too small for my taste in full desktop display (through no fault of this fine monitor), I did find this arrangement quite useful and easy to work with when the HDMI input was used for showing just part of my desktop workspace, as an abbreviated second monitor. I also experimented with using the monitor for the Kona 3 SDI input and one of the Kona 3 outputs, sent to Channels 1 and 3 and displaying the waveform monitor or vectorscope for those signals on Channels 2 and 4 respectively. This was a very useful setup, and eliminated the need for repatching between different production functions.
I was also able to put the RMQ-230-3G to the test in a four-camera shoot—the type of situation it was primarily designed for. The event was an acoustic blues concert at an underlit and drafty New England meeting house. No live switching was required, so our main use for the monitor in this case was to assure that all cameras (from three different manufacturers) were balanced equally. Not having the Wohler monitor would have meant either just comparing cameras through their viewfinders, or through separate external monitors, both of which would add another layer or two of variables. With the Wohler, the deal was as simple as adjusting the monitor to color bars, plugging each camera into the monitor, setting the monitor to quad view, and tweaking away at the balance to our hearts’ content. Monitor adjustment was very quick, using blue-only and the quick and basic onscreen controls that are brought up by hitting the “Enter” button.
After some initial trepidation at not having front panel knobs, I very quickly got used to the very limited button pushing and shallow menu diving needed to make the usual adjustments. The generously wide viewing angle and very even color, luma, and resolution response at all sorts of angles and distances made it very easy for all four camera operators to make the necessary adjustments.
The Wohler RMQ-230-3G is a great looking and very easy to deploy and use monitor. It’s built like a small tank to withstand the abuses of field use; its feature set and controls make it easy to adapt for studio use. Judging by the high quality and stellar attributes of this model, the whole RMQ line of different sized, varied input monitors is worth serious consideration.
Michael Hanish operates Free Lunch, a video/audio/multimedia production house near Guilford, Vt. He may be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accurate video/audio monitoring for control rooms, mobile trucks, edit suites
Configurable four-input viewer, waveform/vectorscope, wide viewing angle
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