Picture This: Display Trends at NAB 2008
May 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer
3D and digital technologies had a strong presence at the show.
The second technology highlight was a real product, although not one targeted at pro AV. It's a small 11in. camera viewfinder/monitor, but the first based on OLED technology. Sony showed two consumer OLED TVs at CES in January, but the HDVF-EL100 is Sony's first professional OLED product, and it hints of a near-term future of the technology. The HDVF-EL100 has an unimpressive 960×540 resolution, but its color and more-than-1,000,000:1 contrast are quite spectacular. OLED is an emissive technology (no backlight) that can achieve both deep blacks and bright whites with much less power than current technologies.
Barco also introduced a new mastering LCD monitor with LED. The RHDM-2301 is a 23in. LED-backlit panel that will compete squarely against Sony's BVM-L230 when it ships toward the end of the year. 120Hz refresh and 10-bit image processing give the RHDM-2301 a similarly remarkable image quality.
Panasonic augmented its line of LCD production monitors with the BT-LH1760 ($4,500). The 17in. BT-LH1700 launched the series two years ago, with a 26in. and 9in. version following last year. The new 17in. LH1760 adds a 120Hz drive for smooth motion and digital HD-SDI and DVI-D inputs. It includes the same digital waveform monitor and vectroscope of the previous models. Panasonic was showing the LH1760 side by side with a new (less expensive) Sony LMD-2050, and the quality difference was overt.
PROJECTORS AND SWITCHERS
There was very little projector news at this year's show, and that's been the case for a few years. Several projector makers used to frequent NAB about a decade ago on the assumption that the broadcast and video creation industry needed displays to see their content. The trouble was that the early digital projectors of the day really weren't that impressive to the most image-quality-critical eyes in the world. However, many of today's high-definition video projectors are exceptional, and I'm a little surprised a few more display makers haven't returned. Barco and Christie Digital have been the exceptions, both consistent NAB exhibitors — although Barco tends to focus on control-room solutions at the show.
Christie Digital, on the other hand, did announce two new widescreen projectors. The first, Christie's LW600 ($15,995) is a 3LCD-based, 6000-lumen projector that follows the trend to widescreen in the business world, as well as houses of worship and medium-sized auditoriums. It features a somewhat odd 1366×800 native resolution, but it can handle data and video sources up to 1080p, and Christie will offer 12 lens options to suit almost any installation requirements. The LW600 also features a new AutoFilter system that rotates filter sheets over time to afford very low maintenance demands. Interestingly, Eiki was showing essentially the same projector with identical specifications in its NAB booth: the LC-W5. Both companies are original equipment manufacturers for the design from Sanyo.
Christie also premiered the CP2000-M ($59,995), a 3-chip DLP, native 2048×1080 projector targeted squarely at the NAB audience. It's designed as a high-quality screening-room projector for just those video professionals with discerning eyes.
Broadcast Pix showed its new HD-capable production and presentation control switchers, including the new Slate 5000 series switchers built on the industry 2/ME control panel platform. These larger panels leverage the same multi-functional Broadcast Pix software and CPU-based image processing, but yield the broader tactile options of the larger panel.
Finally, over the last several years, broadcasters have been moving toward an all-digital workflow — from digital acquisition in tapeless cameras to digital video editing to digital routing and storage to digital distribution — as the industry nears the FCC's February 2009 analog shutdown. Not surprisingly, this year, that was evident more than ever from manufacturers as diverse as Panasonic, Sony, Thomson Grass Valley, Digital Rapids, Focus Enhancements, and VBrick. While most of the solutions offered at NAB by these companies targeted broadcasters, a few will likely make an appearance at InfoComm.
If you haven't already started to explore digital connectivity and all-digital information distribution infrastructures, be sure that's on your agenda in June. All digital hasn't hit the professional AV industry yet, but InfoComm regulars such as VBrick and Focus Enhancements aren't new to the business of storing and managing digital media assets and moving over digital networks. It's really only a matter of time before analog AV connections go the way of the all-digital infrastructures of broadcast professionals.
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