While several manufacturers still market CRT displays, the requirements for critical video evaluation are being met by more LCD units. Some of the enhanced features include 2X and even 4X frame rates, video signal monitoring, embedded audio and closed-caption decoding. And adding to existing product lineups are several Chinese, Korean and Spanish companies.
Panasonic's BT-LH1760 17in LCD HD production monitor features an advanced In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel with wider viewing angles (176°), 10-bit image processing and various signal monitoring functions. The panel's performance is enhanced by a 120Hz drive — double that of standard LCD monitors — which can handle fast motion content by reducing image blur. The panel's image processing engine has a 3-D lookup table that calibrates the monitor to reproduce content according to the specific color standard selected.
In addition to a built-in waveform monitor, it features a vectorscope that displays all picture lines for signal level monitoring, color or white balance. For critical HD focusing and comparison, the LH1760 comes with functions such as pixel-to-pixel matching, which allows the user to see an input signal pixel to pixel without any resizing, and split screen/freeze frame (live input vs. freeze frame) for use with multiple cameras.
The monitor also features a cine-gamma film-rec compensation function for use with cameras such as the VariCam HD Cinema camera and the P2 HD VariCam camcorders. Other image-enhancing functions include standard marker and blue-only, H/V delay display, monochrome and cross hatch overlay display.
Sony is expanding its BVML series of LCD master monitors with the 42in BVML420 display. A 10-bit LCD panel produces better picture contrast and more accurate black details. The display also uses an LED backlight technology that removes motion blur, while maintaining consistent black levels.
The monitor has a native resolution of 1920 × 1080, and its signal processing engine uses 12-bit accuracy, a useful element for the interlaced-to-progressive scan conversion algorithm. The display also features several picture-and-picture modes. Other upgrades include pixel zoom function, gamut error display mode and EIA-608/708 closed-caption decoding capability.
The display is based on Sony's TRIMASTER technology that includes a wide color gamut panel, color management system, high grayscale gradation, motion picture response, and an integrated calibration and feedback system. The BVML series promises more consistent and stable color reproduction using a proprietary color feedback stability system. This technology is designed to accurately reproduce color spaces with 3-D LUT management.
In addition to HDTV, the monitor supports a range of signal formats, including 2048 x 1080/24p for digital cinema applications and 640 × 480 (VGA) PC signals. It offers several connectivity options, including a standard DVI-D input.
Ikegami's anticipated nano-Spindt FED will meet the requirements for the Master Monitor designation specified by EBU and ARIB, possibly setting it apart from most other flat-screen displays. The company also unveiled the HLM-1711WR, a 17in HD/SD multiformat color monitor that integrates a new LCD panel featuring an improved critical viewing angle.
Marshall Electronics showed a line of LCD monitors with In-Monitor Display (IMD) functionality. These monitors associate information to be displayed directly within the LCD, saving rack space. A variety of features are available, including on-screen video time code, three-color soft tallies and an audio presence indicator. The IMD feature is available in the 6.5in through 26in size monitors.
Boland's Digital Full-HD 1080p LCD Monitors (24in to 47in) feature a number of specifications needed for critical video evaluation. These include 500nts (cd/m2) brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio, less than 8ms latency (lip sync time), extended color gamut (72 percent to 102 percent NTSC), SMPTE-C matched whites and deep blacks. The monitors also include high-res digital adaptive comb filters, adjustable gamma (option), preset and variable aspect ratios and horizontal and vertical scans, scan reverse, blue-only and remote operation. Diagonal aliasing is minimized by using a diagonal motion compesation algorithm. The 47in DHD47W uses an array of 22 fluorescent lamps, with a life of more than 50,000 hours.
As the trend toward LCD (and similar) monitors continues to lower the price/feature ratio, there will be more technical executives taking a close look at these cost-effective solutions for critical video monitoring.
Aldo Cugnini is a DTV consultant.