Dolby Intros Reference-Grade LCD Monitor

Dolby is getting into the video-monitoring business, literally. Its new PRM-4200 Professional Reference Monitor, a 42-in. LCD display built in San Francisco, is said to be as accurate as previous CRT monitors.

“The move to flat-panel displays was the demise of things like color accuracy, and there was no predictability, where you could say one reference monitor will look like another or how the image will translate to people’s homes,” says Jason Powers, senior director of marketing for Dolby. “The question was, can we give a reference tool that displays color accurately, no matter what the brightness is, or show details in blacks, something that has been a challenge with LCD technology?”

Known best for audio excellence, Dolby took lessons learned in evaluating the audio-signal delivery-and-processing chain and applied them to video. “Over the past six or seven years, we have had a deliberate expansion into the field of imaging,” says Powers. “Today, we have six different image-research centers working on areas like LED backlighting technology, JPEG 2000 image encoding, and 3D presentation.”

The LCD panel uses a backlight comprising red, green, and blue LEDs modulated individually on a frame-by-frame basis. Dolby also says it is the first reference monitor capable of displaying the dynamic range that the latest digital cinema cameras can capture. And cinema color grading can be performed without the use of a digital projector, with color accuracy across all luminance levels.

The decision to offer a 42-in. monitor, says Powers, provides a display larger than conventional reference-grade monitors. The advantage is that more than one operator can sit around a display that accurately reflects the most popular size of displays within consumer homes.

The monitor also will be manufactured here in the U.S. “It’s based on OEM LCD panels, but we’re manufacturing all of them ourselves,” says Powers. “So now we can combine the reference nature of a CRT with the flexibility of a flat-panel while also emulating the characteristics of other monitors in the field. This is really going to add new dimensions to what our customers can do with the tools available to them today.”