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The CRT Replacement Is Here…Finally!

Sony Trimaster OLED monitors really deliver.

By Terence Curren | October 04, 2011


With the death of CRTs, those of us who needed to critically evaluate video images in a standardized display universe were left with no adequate replacement. Most of us have been nursing along our aging CRT monitors and hoping something of equal or better quality would arrive before our trusted displays give up the ghost. Well, that product has finally arrived, and I predict that Sony is going to own the pro monitor market for delivering it.

When the Europeans banned electronics with lead in them, it spelled the end of CRTs, which couldn't be manufactured without lead shielding. This began a succession of attempts at building an evaluation monitor that could at least match a CRTs performance. This task proved more difficult than I could have imagined. First we were confronted with a series of slightly improving LCD options that never quite hit the mark. The final challenge, reproducing an actual black signal, was never overcome. (Some will argue that Dolby's over $40,000 monitor achieved a pure black, but it is priced out of all but the narrowest markets.)

Plasmas have become our "almost good enough" stand-in for a CRT replacement, and as a consequence, they are prevalent in the professional TV and feature-finishing world. Unfortunately, manufacturers can't or won't make a pro plasma smaller than 42 inches. This is just too large to have up close to a colorist. Additionally, plasmas so far have been unable to accurately reproduce the color spaces used in professional workflows.

The requirements for a reference monitor are pretty high. I need to know beyond a doubt that the image I am looking at in my room will match the image that another pro in another location sees. Not only must all the of the signal must be visible, the reference points must be pure. So white looks white and black looks black and a gray field looks gray.

Over the years we have been hearing about (and seeing occasional teases for) several technologies that promised to handle these issues. Three examples are SED (Surface surface-conduction electron-emitter display), OLED (organic light-emitting diode) and FED (field emission display). I won't go into the differences, or the various battles that have kept these technologies from hitting the market, if you care, you can find more info here:

At NAB 2010 TVLogic introduced a 15" OLED panel, the LEM-150 It was beautiful and I was blown away. But it was too small at 15" And fairly expensive at over $6,000. In January 2011 Sony showed a sneak peek of their new OLED product the BVM Trimaster EL series OLED Monitors. By NAB 2011, they were demoing the product in an impressive setup with an LCD, BVM CRT and the new BVM Trimaster in a side-by-side presentation. I was blown away.

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Ra-ey Saleh: | October, 04, 2011

Thanks for the heads up Terence.  Our CRTs are on their last legs and other monitors we’ve looked at (or bought) really haven’t measured up.  This is great news.

Terence Curren: | October, 04, 2011

I hear you. Just in time.

kwortendyke: | November, 04, 2011

A bit delayed from your original post, but I wanted to circle back based on a recent blog posted over at Abel Cine and alluded to elsewhere online.

They warn the PVM models have a flicker issue when showing 24p material that the BVM units don’t succumb to. Can you comment on that phenomenon and to what degree the problem manifests itself?

Terence Curren: | November, 04, 2011

I am not seeing any flicker on 24P material. It may have to do with the I/P mode they have the monitor set at.

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