When you’re planning a studio shoot, almost any monitor will do. But when you’re shooting exteriors in extreme conditions, you’ll need a rugged, lightweight monitor that’s bright enough to be seen in broad daylight. I tested three such monitors from Display Integration Technologies, and they all rocked.
These DIT monitors are tough, and they can be used in a wide variety of applications, from World Wrestling Entertainment productions to shoots with the Volusia County Sheriff Department’s Bomb Squad. These three monitors are also Mobile Monitor Ruggedized (MMR) and designed for use in remote locations by Military or Mobile Command. And since a war zone is probably the hardest test a monitor will ever encounter, it was no great wonder that these DIT monitors worked well when I tested them on my location shoots. The company’s MMR Series includes models with 10.6-, 15.3- and 17-inch monitors, and I tested each one.
The first thing I noticed was the monitors’ rugged case –– the all-aluminum welded construction is both lightweight and durable, even with a brick battery attached. Another handy thing is that the monitors are easy to mount; they all have a cool little integrated rear-support arm that will fold out for instant setup on any flat surface. Time is money, and if you don’t want to use the support arm, the light-stand mount is equally as easy to set up. I like not having to attach a flat monitor stand to the top of a light stand before mounting the monitor, and these monitors have a mount on the back that allows you to easily place it directly onto the stand.
The MMR Series was built from the ground up with HD in mind, so other uses for these monitors include broadcast remote sets and trucks, location filming, IT or viewing from helicopter cameras –– anywhere a lightweight and mobile monitor is needed for critical HD viewing. The cool thing is that the screen images are good enough for the studio while the monitor is rugged enough for fieldwork.
The first monitor I tested was the MMR-B170W. It utilizes a 17-inch-wide Active Matrix TFT LCD Panel with a native 1920x1200 resolution and a high-end scaling engine. The 1920x1200 panel allows pixel-for-pixel viewing for the truest image possible, and the monitor has a high brightness-and-contrast ratio with wide viewing angles. When I used this monitor in direct sunlight, I could see a clear image from six feet away. All of the monitors come with snaps for a viewing hood, but I can’t imagine why you would ever need one.
The monitors all have a protective lens. The standard AR Acrylic Protective Lens is field changeable, but the 17-inch I tested came with the Optically Bonded Lens option, which is a really nice piece of glass that protects the panel. Though while this glass looks nice, it can’t be repaired in the field. So if you plan to shoot on locations where you’ll be trashing your monitor’s lens, you’ll want to go with the standard AR Acrylic Lens.
All of these monitors can be field-powered via an Anton/Bauer (Gold Mount) or IDX battery or XLR power input. When I attached an Anton/Bauer Dionic 90Wh battery to the back of the monitor, the battery lasted for over two hours and still allowed the monitor to be lightweight. It would seem that mounting a large battery would cause the monitor to tip over and break, but that isn’t the case –– the arm that folds out from the back of the monitor is stable and rock solid, even with a full-brick battery. Now, let’s move on to the 15.3-inch model.
The MMR-B153W utilizes a 15.3-inch-wide Active Matrix TFT LCD Panel with a native 1280x768 resolution and a high-end scaling engine. Like the 17-inch model, this monitor has a high brightness-and-contrast ratio, and the wide viewing angles make it easy to see. Additionally, the 15.3-inch model is the most flexible of the group. It can be ordered with an upgraded “Hi Bright” backlight unit (BLU). The Hi Bright BLU changes the brightness of the monitor from 400 nits to up to 1500 nits. When I used this unit in direct sunlight, it looked great at 400 nits. And with the upgraded BLU beaming out 1200 to 1500 nits, I can’t even imagine how bright it would be. You have your choice of lens type on all three models, but the Hi Bright upgrade for the BLU Panel is only available on the 15.3-inch model.
Flexibility is everything in the production business, so I got excited when I found out that each unit was custom made to suit the needs of each customer.
The standard Ins and Outs are DVID/HDMI, VGA, RS232 port, XLR 12v Power, and a 120v Power via a wall wart. There are also six BNC spaces available that can be configured to meet your requirements. You can choose from CVS, S-Video, Component YPbPr or HD/SD SDI for PAL or NTSC.
The Standard Finish is Black Powder Coated Lite Texture, but you can customize the finish to any color, and you can even add your logo. If I owned a TV truck, I would order red monitors with my logo attached, so in a crowded press box there would never be any doubt as to which monitors belonged with my TV truck.
In addition to flexible Ins, Outs and your choice of panels and lenses, these monitors offer something new that’s very cool: the ability to change your mind. If your workflow changes, you can change the type of signals that appear on your six BNC connections. So if you need an extra SDI input, it’s not a problem. Instead of selling your monitor and buying another one with the proper types of Ins and Outs, you simply return your monitor to the shop for a refit. How cool is that?
Finally, if you want a rugged and bright monitor, but just don’t have the bag space to carry it around with you on location, DIT makes a 10-inch model just for that purpose. The MMR-B106W utilizes a 10-inch Active Matrix TFT LCD Panel with a native wide XGA (1280x768) resolution. Like its big brothers, the 10-inch model looks good and offers portability for those of you who have to travel light.
Just like your favorite monitors, the DIT MMR Series models all provide a great image. The difference is they’re more rugged and bright enough to be seen in any extreme situation.