Dolby entered the crowded field of LCD display manufacturers today, announcing the PRM-4200, a 42-inch professional reference monitor that it claims is an accurate substitute for the old-school CRTs that are so coveted by high-end video pros.
The display has an LED backlight system that modulates on a frame-by-frame basis, as does the LCD panel. “We’ve taken some technology that’s already appearing in consumer displays and supercharged it for the professional market,” Dolby’s senior director of marketing for broadcast, Jason Power, told StudioDaily. “We’ve put an array of 4,500 LEDs â€” red, green and blue â€” behind the screen that we can use to vary the light that’s shone through the LCD display, creating a consistency of color and a luminance contrast range that you would not experience with a traditional LCD.”
Power said the new display is not only a reference monitor, but an emulation device. “Once you’ve used our known grade-1 style reference mode for color-correction decisions, you can press a button and have it emulate your favorite consumer displays,” he said. “We can actually go beyond grade 1 and support P3 color space, so you can start to do work in the suite that you previously would have had to take into a more expensive digital-cinema-projector-equipped facility. We can do that right there on a single display.”
For now, Dolby is taking a one-size-fits-all approach, selecting the 42-inch form factor as the best way to accurately represent what the typical home consumer will be viewing. It’s also a good size for a post suite, where multiple creatives or clients can view a larger monitor more easily, he noted. Dolby has visions, too, of this display being deployed in the video village on the set of high-profile productions.
Dolby is designing and manufacturing the displays in-house to keep tabs on the quality of individual units. The price hasn’t been set, though Power said Dolby has been in touch with customers to make sure the cost isn’t out of line. “There are expected industry benchmarks on pricing, and $800 to $1200 per inch seems to be the reference point,” he said. Somewhere between $34,000 and $50,000, then, when this thing ships later in 2010.
More information is in the Dolby press release
. But, as usual with anything in this industry, seeing is believing. You can check out the PRM-4200 for yourself next week, when it occupies a dedicated demo area in the Dolby booth at NAB in Las Vegas.