According to a report in US PC World, two new digital video specifications could chop as much as $US150 off the price of LCD monitors, while improving the overall display quality, within a year. The reason is that LCDs require digital input and the standard video port on a user's PC delivers analog signals designed for CRT displays. At the moment most LCDs convert the analog signals to digital with built-in electronics, adding to the monitor's cost and sometimes degrading the image.
The two specifications, which rely on similar technology, are the Video Electronics Standards Association's Plug and Display (P&D), and the Digital Flat Panel Group's DFP. The less-expensive DFP supports only LCD displays. P&D also supports CRT monitors, plus two new bus options, USB and Firewire.
According to the report, although no P&D products are shipping yet, IBM expects to produce one next year.
Additionally, prices should drop when other PC and LCD vendors jump into the market. The question is when, and many US vendors say they are waiting for one or the other of the two specifications - or even a third entirely different technology - to prevail.
The report concludes that for the time being, digital LCDs don't offer the best deal; but within a year, this could change.
Australian PC World will be running a comparison of new monitors, including flat screen models, in its October 1998 issue.
Hitachi Super TFT monitor. Available in Australia from August 20th, this product has been described by Hitachi as a large screen Super-TFT colour LCD monitor. The 14.1in display has an effective viewing area of 285.7mm horizontal and 214.3mm vertical, "a considerable increase on the 13.3in unit released in June 1997". The viewing angle is increased to 80 degrees in all planes, suiting it to both desktop and wall mounted applications. The resolution is 1024 x 768 and more than 16 million colours are displayed using Hitachi's Frame Rate Control technology.
The screen features a typical brightness of 200cd/m2 and high uniformity. Ease of set-up and operation is assisted by a simple on-screen display and plug and play capability. The new monitor weighs 6.5kg and measures 375mm by 199mm x 327mm.
The RRP of the PCX-DT3140 is $3499.
Hitachi CM 641 17in monitor. This 17in monitor has been designed by Hitachi for use by office professionals using Windows or Macintosh applications, and those needing a high resolution with a smaller footprint than larger 19in and 21in models.
The viewable image area is 15.9in or 404mm. 1280 x 1024 resolution images can be displayed at a flicker-free rate of 85Hz but the monitor will support up to 1600 x 1200 at a lower refresh rate. Hitachi describes the new monitor as being perfect for use with 3D graphics cards.
Hitachi uses its own tube technology in the CM 641. Technically the tube is a Flat-Square construction with a black matrix Invar shadow mask and Dynamic Focus. It features an anti-static AR coating to minimise glare and a 0.22 horizontal mask pitch, for clear, sharp text, even at high resolutions.
Also featured on the monitor is Hitachi's new digital on-screen display technology. Known as "Easy Menu" it allows the user to easily set up complex functions such as those for pincushion, trapezoid and rotation.
There are five factory pre-set programs and 20 user programmable. The new monitor is plug and play-compatible and has power saving features. It also complies with ergonomic and ecological standards.
The monitor weighs 17kg and measures 412mm wide x 402mm high and 426mm deep. The RRP of the Hitachi CM 641 will be $1299 and it will be available from September.
Hitachi CM 751 19in monitor.
Hitachi's 19in desktop monitor has been designed for "power users", at "nearly half the cost of leading brand 21in monitors", said Hitachi Australia's general manager, Bernhard Kotarski.
The CM 751 incorporates a 19in diagonal CRT tube (367mm x 276mm viewable area) and features Hitachi's Advanced Elliptical Aperture electron gun with Multistep Dynamic Focusing (A-EA-MDF), 0.22mm dot pitch and Invar shadow mask.
A newly developed high-performance Saddle/ Saddle deflection yoke on the CRT is claimed by Hitachi to provide higher convergence quality, less distortion and reduced magnetic leakage.
Maximum resolution is 1600 x 1200 at 75Hz refresh rate and 1024 x 768 at 115Hz refresh rate, for a flicker-free display. Hitachi recommends this monitor for use with graphics cards, allowing multiple pages or windows to be opened on the desktop.
Set-up is assisted with built-in screen based display, accessing 26 modes with digital storage.
The RRP of the CM 751 has recently been reduced from $2559 to $1999 and the company says that "sales are now booming".
Philips Brilliance 151AX. This flat panel 15.1in monitor from the Brilliance range has just been released and is described by Philips as "the first active TFT LCD monitor of this size to be sold for under $2000 in Australia". Robson describes the monitor as delivering "outstanding brightness and contrast, zero emissions, and low energy consumption in a monitor that requires minimal desk space".
The monitor weighs 5.2kg and requires a maximum depth of 17.6cm. Philips has developed a hardened, anti-scratch, anti-reflective cover that can be installed by any user "within seconds".
The 75Hz frequency range matches Windows default setting, eliminating software compatibility problems. The monitor tilts and swivels for easy viewing, and comes with a detachable pedestal for swing arm or wall mount applications. A special hinge on the monitor also ensures full tilt and rotation adjustability.
Located at the back of the monitor is Philips' USB bay which accommodates an optional Universal Serial Bus hub.
This is a stand-alone, optional device that includes four USB downstream ports for peripherals and one upstream port to host.
It provides powered hub functionality for up to 127 USB peripherals.
The RRP of the Philips Brilliance 151AX Flat Panel Monitor is $1799.
CPD-L150. Just released from Sony is this 15in TFT flat panel display monitor, with a 15in viewable image. The monitor weighs 5.3kg and is 165mm deep.
The contrast ratio is 300:1, luminance is 200cd/m2 and dot pitch is 0.297.
Digital Multiscan Technology offers a wide horizontal scan range of 30Ð70kHz and provides accurate resolutions from 640 x 480 up to 1024 x 768 at 85Hz. The viewing angle is 140 degrees horizontal and 120 degrees vertical, the "Zero Footprint" design allows for flexible placement options: a removable tilt base provides optional arm or wall mounting capability.
Sony's chipset design, Digital FlexRes Technology, is claimed by the company to provide a "crisp, clear full screen image, regardless of resolution". The Auto ImageSet feature only requires a single button-touch, reducing set-up time. Additional features include display of over 16 million colours; easy to use on-screen display in six languages with features like image zoom, colour, temperature selection, control lock and information screen.
The monitor has low power consumption and is claimed to operate at one quarter of the standard power consumption of a 17in CRT display. Designed for Windows NT and Windows 98, the monitor is Macintosh compatible, International Energy Star compliant, MPR11 approved and TCO 95 compliant.
The RRP of the Sony CPD-L150 15in TFT flat panel display monitor is $3999.contactsHitachi AustraliaTel (02) 9888 4100Philips Electronics AustraliaTel (02) 9925 3281Sony AustraliaTel (02) 9887 6666