Monitor update; more monitors for your viewing pleasure. (evaluation) Russ Lockwood.
In the February 1985 issue, we ran "Choosing an RGB Monitor," an explanation of how RGB monitors operate, a Basic program to torture test a monitor, and capsule evaluations of five RBB monitors. This month, we look at several RGB monitors and take a peek at composite color monitors that use separated video inputs.
Sony KV-1311 CR
Most people think of Sony as the manufacturer of the Trinitron line of quality television sets. What you may not know is that Sony also manufactures a computer (the SMC-70) and a line of RGB monitors ranging in size from 9" to 25" diagonal. Now Sony is expanding its electronics horizon by offering the KV-1311 CR, a combination RBG monitor, composite color monitor, and television set.
The 13" monitor comes with built-in RGB interface circuitry for the IBM PC/XT/AT/PCjr computers. Special cables, available from Sony, are required to attach the monitor to the computer. Text resolution is 25 lines of 80 characters, and graphics resolution is 640 x 200 pixels (black and white) and 320 X 200 pixels (four-color). The dot pitch is a sharp 0.37mm. The monitor passed our grid and inverse box torture tests with flying colors.
As a television set, the KV-1311CR supports VHF channels 2-13, UHF channels 14-69, and cable channels 1-125. Sony includes a battery-powered remote control unit with on/off, channel, volume, and picture brightness controls; attachable feet to change the angle of the screen; a plug-in earphone; and two-batteries for the remote control unit.
The cylindrical Microblack tinted screen for "minimum reflection" is a mixed blessing. On the positive side, ceiling light reflects downward, away from your eyes. If you work in an office, this reduces wear and tear on your eyes. On the negative side, light streaming over your shoulder scatters over the highly-polished screen, forming an impenetrable glare. Carefully analyze your lighting conditions when you consider the KV-1311CR.
The monitor stands an inch or so higher than the IBM monitors. If you place the monitor directly on the desk, the Sony offers a good viewing angle. If you place it atop the system unit, plan on lifting your line of sight a bit.
As a television set, the KV-1311CR is excellent. Trinitron quality delivers a superb picture, and the remote control may save you from ever having to watch another idiotic commercial, since you can zap around the dial and change volume without leaving your chair.
Overall, the $595 KV-1311CR earns excellent marks as a television and a monitor. The colors are true, the picture sharp, and the Sony name practically guarantees a long life. Our only reservation is lighting. The highly polished screen can be as much a nemesis as an ally.
Sony, Sony Dr., Park Ridge, NJ 07656. (201) 730-1000.
Zenith is another television manufacturer branching out into the computer world. Does the quality go in before the name goes on? For the ZVM-133 RGB color monitor, the answer is yes.
The ZVM-133 uses a nine-pin D shell connector to attach to an IBM PC or Zenith Z-151 computer. The 13" monitor has a graphics resolution of 640 x 200 pixels (black and white) or 320 x 200 pixels (four-color). The dot pitch is 0.41mm, slightly better than the IBM PC Color Display, and the text resolution is 25 lines of 80 characters.
The torture test proves the ZVM-133 is an excellent monitor. The grid does not waver, and the inverse boxes remain straight and sharp. Give Zenith credit for bringing its television expertise into the monitor market.
The colors are bright and true. We ran a variety of software, from business programs to arcade games, and in each case, the colors appeared sharp and distinct.
The ZVM-133 includes a special green-screen-only button, which affectively turns your RGB color monitor into a monochrome monitor. For text-only work, the green screen is easier on the eyes than color. It is like getting two monitors for the price of one.
At $309, the ZVM-133 is a steal. Although lacking somewhat in physical beauty, the color, resolution, price, and well-known quality make the ZVM-133 RGB color monitor attractive enough to merit serious consideration.
Zenith Data Systems, 1000 Milwaukee Ave., Glenview, IL 60025. (312) 391-9849.
We include the Teknika MJ-10 along with the powerhouse RBG monitors because it uses separated video signals to deliver a teriffic display. It works especially well with Atari computers, although you can hook it up to any computer with NSTC composite output.
The 13" MJ-10 composite color monitor uses a five-pin DIN plug to attach to the Atari. The separated signals (NTSC video, luminence, and chrominance outputs) provide a resolution of 400 lines compared to the 300 lines of regular composite signals. Text resolution is 25 lines of 40 characters. The dot pitch is 0.60mm.
The torture test shows that the MJ-10 can take the video abuse. The grid is straight, and the inverse boxes sharp.
We ran a variety of software on an Atari with the MJ-10. In all cases, the colors were clear and distinct, and the monitor took advantage of the versatility of Atari graphics.
At $299, the Teknika MJ-10 represents a good solid value for the dollar. If you are looking to make the upgrade from a television set to a monitor for your Atari, Commodore, Apple, or other home computer, put the MJ-10 on your list.
Teknika Electronics, 353 Rt. 46 West, Fairfield, NJ 07006. (201) 575-0380.
Tecmar Color Monitor
The first thing that strikes you about the Tecmar Color Monitor is how closely it resembles the Zenith ZVM-133. It has the same shape, the same knobs, the same green-screen-only button, and even the same connectors. The only difference between the two seems to be the nameplate on the front.
Looking at the back panel reveals that this 13" RGB monitor is indeed manufactured by Zenith, except it is model ZVM-136B. Rather than repeat ourselves, let us just say that the results of tests (using a standard IBM Graphics board) on the Tecmar Color Monitor duplicate the results obtained with Zenith ZVM-133.
So what is the difference? Plenty. The Tecmar Color Monitor supports the new crop of higher-resolution graphics boards. It achieves a resolution of 720 x 480 pixels with four colors and 640 x 400 with 16 colors. The dot pitch is 0.43mm. Tecmar recommends their own Graphics Master board to obtain the highest resolution possible.
The $795 pricetag is competitive, providing you need the enhanced resolution offered by the monitor. And with the Zenith, ooops, Tecmar label, you know the quality goes in before the name goes on.
Tecmar, 6225 Cochran Rd., Solon, OH 44139. (216) 349-0600.
AMDEK COLOR 500
Amdek has long provided quality monitors, and the Color 500 lives up to the tradition. Like most electronics goods these days, this 13" monitor is made in Japan. It offers two modes of video input--NTSC composite color and RGB color.
The Color 500 uses a 9-pin D shell connector to attach to an RGB port. It has a graphics resolution of 560 x 240 pixels in RGB mode and 320 x 240 pixels in composite mode. The dot pitch is 0.51mm, which is not as good as the 0.43mm of the IBM PC Color Display, and the text resolution 25 lines of 80 characters.
The torture test proves the Color 500 to be quite good. The grid remains rock solid, and the inverse boxes remain straight and true. The only nitpicking we can do is to point out that the border registers a slight bowing at the bottom right corner. This curvature affects only the border and not the main screen area.
We ran a variety of software with the monitor hooked into a Leading Edge PC for RGB input and an Apple IIc for composite input. In all cases, the colors appeared sharp and distinct.
The Color 500 includes a special green-screen only button, which effectively turns color into monochrome and makes text work easier on the eyes.
Amdek offers a truly versatile color monitor in the Color 500, but it is not exactly for the IBM PC, XT, or AT. It attaches to and works fine with a PC, but an Amdek spokesman noted that it is primarily for the Apple II and IBM PCjr computers. By providing both composite and RGB color, it allows two computers to share one monitor. Indeed, it even has a switch on the back to change between computers without plugging and unplugging the cables. And with a price of $450, the Color 500 is relatively easy on the budget.
Amdek, 2201 Lively Blvd., Elk Grove Village, IL 60007. (312) 595-6890.
Princeton Graphic Systems offers a line of high-resolution RGB monitors tailored for IBM PC and compatible systems. The HX-12E is an enhanced version of the company's initial product, the HX-12. The big improvement is that it can be used with either the regular IBM color graphics board or the newly-introduced IBM Enhanced Color Graphics Adapter.
The 12" HX-12E displays 16 colors with a resolution of 640 x 200 pixels at 15.75 KHz (the regular graphics board) or 64 colors with a resolution of 640 x 350 pixels at 22 KHz (the Enhanced Color Graphics Adapter). The dot pitch is a super-sharp 0.28mm--much, much better than the 0.43mm of the IBM Color Display.
Thus, it should not be a surprise to learn that the HX-12E passed our monitor torture test (using the regular graphics board). In fact, this is an exceptional monitor. Even the text resolution of 25 lines of 80 characters proves to be superb. We quickly switched over from the IBM Color Display to the PGS HX-12E.
Of course, high resolution commands a high price. At $785, the HX-12E is certainly not cheap. In fact, it represents overkill when used with a regular graphics board. However, if you plan to purchase the IBM Enhanced Grahpics Adapter, by all means head straight for a PGS dealer.
Princeton Graphics Systems, 170 Wall St., Princeton, NJ 08540. (609) 683-1660, (800) 221-1490.
Products: Sony KV-1311 CR (video display module) - Evaluation
Zenith ZVM-133 (video display module) - Evaluation
Teknika MJ-10 (video display module) - Evaluation
Tecmar Color Monitor (video display module) - Evaluation
Amdek Color 500 (video display module) - Evaluation
PGS HX-12E (video display module) - Evaluation