Tuesday, April 16, 2013

NAB 2013 Displays

I'm back in effect for a little NAB round-up. I attended this year and I'm going to give a run-down of the products that attracted my attention. First up: displays.

My first stop was the Penta Studiotechnik booth. Markus Unfried gave me an overview of their very extensive line of LCD color-critical displays. Their HD2line Pro series are Class 1 and range from 17" to 55". Uniformity and consistency were great and their larger screens seemed like a proper alternate for the usual Panny Plasmas. The 55" runs about $12,000 USD with the 42" coming in a thousand or so less. Not a bad price point for these larger screens.

Small HD was showing off their new line of OLED displays. Their high-end DP7-Pro OLED looked simply amazing. Coming in at $2700 this new offering includes loads of software like waveform and vectorscopes, focus assist, false color, anamorphic de-squeeze, cross-conversion, scaling, etc. This was probably the best looking small display I saw.

Convergent Design showcased their new monitor/recorder the Odyssey 7 and Odyssey 7Q. The O7 starts at $1300 and features a 9" OLED screen with full-screen waveform and vectorscope functions as well as a really great focus assist mode. The picture was good and contrasty, much better than the Gemini, but not quite "natural" enough as a good reference.  The O7 can be upgraded as a recorder or you can choose to go with the O7Q which starts at $2400 and gives you DNxHD recording capability. The O7Q can support 4 HD inputs, has a quad view, and will be able to record raw formats like ARRIRAW with paid full or rental upgrades. Both products record to CD's 2.5 SSD's and are available up to 960GBs. Other codecs / options will be announced soon and the rumor mill suggests that both of these will have ProRes support shortly.

Flanders Scientific showed off 5 new models at this year's NAB. They've split their line-up into the "Cinema" and "Broadcast" Series with the CM line becoming their top-end color-critical reference displays. All of their CM Series include the usual smorgasbord of FSI features like scopes, audio display, timecode display, markers, etc, etc. In addition the CM line offers built-in 1D and 3D LUT support for calibration/transforms (like SLog or Log-C) as well as the ability to load in user created 3D LUTs as "looks". These FSI displays all include 12-bit processing with 10-bit panels as well as rec709, DCI, and XYZ support with internal integration/calibration with LightSpace CMS. The new line also allows for dual independent inputs with the ability to view both simultaneously on a split screen. Very handy. The CM line includes a 17", 24", and a 32" LCD. The 32" CM320TD was extremely impressive. This is FSI's largest screen size to date and the White LED display has a glossy sheen to it that really improves discernable contrast. At $5500 for this 32" Class 1 display this is definitely a "Best Buy". Shipping this June.

Last year's NAB was all about 4K. This year we actually got some useable products. JVC was showing off their new professional-grade 84" 4K LCD display. Capable of 60P and with a 120Hz refresh the tech details were spot on but their demo footage was a bit underwhelming. For those that need it, this is one of the first large-scale 4K Pro displays. $14,000 and shipping in June.

Panasonic showed off their new 31" 4K LCD monitor. Designed for the pro market the image was impressive and has a Q3 release date. No word on pricing. Panny also had a bunch of their 4K 20" Windows 8 tablets on display. Like a giant iPad these things were really cool but I have no idea where I'd put it down. Off to the side and behind a black curtain was a small 21" OLED prototype. Just HD resolution this little guy was nevertheless  amazing. Panasonic had demo footage of a sushi chef cutting through fresh fish.  The image produced was hyper real. I could practically taste it. No word on a delivery schedule for this little bit of tasty tech.

Not to be outdone Sony was showing off it's currently available 30" 4K LCD. It's a very impressive display but not quite mind-blowing. And with a $30K+ price tag it's only going to appeal to a very small slice of the market. The new and improved line of HD-rez OLEDs were on display (PVM, F and E grade in 17" and 25" sizes). Sony is using a new panel which gets rid of the teal/magenta skew when viewing the older OLEDs slightly off-axis.

What really impressed was the prototype 4K OLEDs that Sony was showing off in a darkened corner of their booths. If memory serves there was a 42" and 32" display. Both were striking in their clarity, resolution, color reproduction, and contrast. A smaller screen-sized 4K display seems a bit counter-intuitive (as their current PVM 4K LCD is great but not incredible because of it's limited size) but this 32" 4K OLED was killer. I think I watched their demo footage 3 times before moving on. The Sony Reps on hand did confirm that these were in development but we probably won't see them for about a year and they are slated for Class 1 so expect a $25K+ price point.

The last thing that grabbed my attention at the Sony booth was their consumer-grade 4K TVs. They are currently shipping an 84" 4K television but with a $25,000 buy in you won't be seeing that many of these in living rooms. But the new 55" and 65" Ultra HD TVs are wicked! Priced at $5000 and $7000 respectively both of these will be shipping in a little over a month. And the picture it delivers is awesome. Granted Sony was running their own 4K demo reel to these displays but color, contrast, resolution, and especially subtlety in skin tones were very, very impressive for an "affordable" 4K TV. I do want one...

Last, but not least, Astro Designs were showcasing 8K acquired footage running through their 8K to 4K downconverter and then routed to their own 56" 4K display. The conversion was happening real-time and the Astro Reps had the ability to zoom into the 8K footage ala pixel-to-pixel on the 4K display and scan around through it. Pretty cool.

And, yeah, I know it's been about a year since I've last posted. Life happens...

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