I remember reading about OLED screens in some tiny nook of the web, a research arm of Kodak working with Cambridge University if I recall correctly, and they showed this little 3″ screen which was the total fruit of their labors at the time. It used a tenth the power of LCD, it needed no backlight, it was as thin as a dime, and it was viewable in sunlight. I really looked forward to seeing these screens used in production.
Well, Kodak sold off their OLED research to LG in the end of 1999, but that hasn’t stopped the rest of the electronics world from licensing technology and starting to build new, exciting products, Sony’s PVM-740 is set to replace all those crappy (even if expensive) LCD location monitors and I’ll tell you why. There is a key problem with LCD displays. No matter if they are CFL backlit, edge lit LCD screens or even LCD projectors, the backlighting hits the entire LCD panel and there is light leakage through the pixels themselves which means that black is never truly black. Sony even demonstrated this themselves at NAB 2010 where they showed the new PVM-740 next to traditional CRT and current LCD portable production monitors. The difference between LCD and OLED is stark:
Source video clip at Sony UK. A simple web search brings loads of LCD versus OLED comparison shots and you’d be hard-pressed to find one where OLED loses. The difference is just that stark and convincing.
I have long rallied for the use of waveform monitors to be used in the field. Because no matter how “accurate” a monitor is, or how black the blacks, there’s still the issue of misadjustment, where the monitor is not corretly showing you white to black, or even the correct hue. Also, you need to take into consideration the ambient light (daylight, tungsten), glare, reflections off the protective glass and what color is contributed there… the monitor can be perfectly calibrated and then put into an environment that forces the viewer to misinterpret the video they see.
A scope, however, is like an audio meter- it is a visual representation of voltage. It assigns a visual indicator to a particular value. Crushed white is like clipped audio— easy to see with the right meter. Low audio is as easy to rectify as dark face tones when you have an objective meter telling you numbers. In fact, I’d love it if any of these production monitors, which already have scopes built-in, could make those scopes full frame. A much larger scope image would make it far, far easier to adjust greenscreen backgrounds, etc. But I digress.
This new OLED monitor enables the viewer to really get a true representation of the image because a black pixel is just off. There’s no light coming from it at all. There’s no backlight in an OLED screen. Like Plasma, each pixel emits its own light. So if you don’t turn it on, then there’s nothing there. It is about as accurate as you can get. Even so, this new monitor does feature both waveform and audio metering built in.
It comes with a whole host of I/O, and a stand.My only regret is the 960×540 resolution, which I have noted previously, even cell phones surpass at this point. Why anything 5″ and great doesn’t offer full (1920×1080) pixel resolution is beyond me. Well, it may be a manufacturing schedule. You know, offer this low resolution one for a couple years, then offer the higher resolution model at the same size so everyone can buy the same monitor again. Yea, planned obsolescence. (yuck)
A fellow reviewer will have a review on PVC soon, and the only question I have is really about outdoor visibility with the protective glass over the screen. I look forward to the coming wave of OLED monitors and putting the vagaries of image assessment with LCD monitors to pasture.