Every trade show I’ve ever attended has featured at least one ‘rabbit out of the hat’ product that I didn’t see coming. True to form, I wasn’t disappointed at this year’s National Association of Broadcasters get-together in Las Vegas, where the world’s largest AM OLED production video monitor (not to mention one of the first OLED production monitors) made its debut yesterday.
The fact that an OLED broadcast monitor is even available for purchase is news enough. The bigger surprise was the company that announced this particular product: It wasn’t Sony, who also unveiled an OLED pro monitor at NAB (PVM-750), albeit one with half the screen size at seven inches. Nor did the announcement come from JVC, Ikegami, Hitachi, or any of the other ‘usual suspects.’
Instead, the stage belonged to TV Logic, a manufacturer of LCD broadcast monitors who had a large booth in the lower South Hall. Their showcase product is the LEM-150, a 15" AM-OLED monitor using SM technology. (Kudos to you if you correctly deduced that this OLED panel is sourced from LG Displays!) TV Logic’s product specs say that the LEM-150 has 1366×768 resolution (WXGA), 100,000 peak contrast, and a peak brightness measurement of 200 nits (about 58 ft-L).
It’s equipped with a single DVI-I input, dual-link HD-SDI (3G, of course), and a handful of analog video connections. What caught my eye is this spec: Even though the monitor supports 10-bit 4:4:4 HD SDI video, the OLED color depth appears to be only 8-bit (16.7M colors). (Hmmm…) Retail price will be about $6,200.
TV Logic went one better by also unveiling a 3D version of this monitor. It’s the TDM-150W (about $7,700) and offers a pair of HDMI inputs and SDI inputs for connecting left eye and right eye video streams. Active shutter glasses are required for viewing.
Both monitors incorporate a built-in vectorscope and waveform monitor, 1:1 pixel mapping (an unusual feature, given the monitor’s non-standard resolution), and the usual ‘must haves’ including audio level meters, markers for various safe area and title positions, timecode display, blue only mode, focus assist, and closed caption display.
The surprise here is that anyone thinks OLEDs are ready for such a strenuous application as broadcast and production content monitoring. Sony’s 11-inch AM-OLED XEL-1 TV was introduced solely as an expensive novelty consumer display, and had a poor track record with brightness decay and differential color aging — one reason Sony decided to suspend production of OLEDs for the consumer marketplace.
TV Logic claims both monitors have a anticipated lifetime of 30,000 hours, although they didn’t specify if that was to half-brightness or some lower figure. The last numbers I’d heard for blue channel life span on SM-OLED displays was in the neighborhood of 10,000 hours (dark blue) and 6,000 hours (light blue), although admittedly that information is a bit dated.
One concern with this product is long-term display of grids, masks, captions, bugs, or any other high-brightness text or graphics. These would most certainly create a burn-in hazard and wreak havoc on the blue channel. A company representative replied that both monitors have an automatic power reduction circuit that lowers overall picture brightness by 30% under such conditions, ostensibly to protect the display. Pixel orbiting is also available in the menu to extend panel life.
TV Logic’s 3D demonstration was impressive with pre-recorded content. Unfortunately, when they switched to a live stereo camera rig, it appeared that the left and right eye information had been reversed! (Oh well, can’t win them all.) Other gems in the booth included the LUM-560W, which is a 56-inch 10-bit 4K (3840×2160 resolution) LCD production monitor. Initial pricing is about $66,000.
I asked for a sample of the HM-150 to test drive after NAB, and hope to have a more detailed report on its capabilities in a future report.