Chinese monitor vendors have undergone irregular development with much of their experience coming from production of television sets. Some, however, are adopting new technology rapidly to launch advanced (read: high-priced) products and solutions.
Monitor technology was acquired early in China because of the manufacture of television sets. Manufacturers accumulated experience while developing new CCTV monitor families with stable features, high cost performance and functionalities. Leading manufacturers use professional testing devices to achieve RoHS, CE and Emark certification.
Today, hot products are liquid crystal display (LCD), digital lighting processor (DLP) and plasma display panel (PDP); LCD combines advantages of DLP and PDP for best overall cost-to-performance ratios and more widespread applicability.
Leading suppliers produce comprehensive products, ranging from 15-inch to 65-inch LCD monitors with high resolution and multiple functions. Some leading Chinese vendors believe that their products can compete with even big foreign brands like LG and Philips.
In 2008, the major focus has laid in two areas resolution and multiple functions. High-end application vendors, such as Skyworth Qunxin and Stonesonic, are producing LCD monitors and combination panel walls. Those of smaller applications (CMU, User LCD and Stonesonic) are looking to IP monitors or those with built-in DVRs.
User LCD has come out with a new product called a combination processor; it can be used with all kinds of monitors and features pure hardware, VGA port output and S-video (to enhance image stability, fluency and resolution). Finally, Sharpvision specializes in vehicle display monitors.
Skyworth Qunxin, which has chosen to concentrate on mid to high-end markets, has products that automatically eliminate remnant traces, effectively avoid screen burning caused by static images and extend product life. Rich butt ports ensure compatibility between its products and general ports on the market. Materials are top-quality, hardware and software development is done in-house, and quality control standards are strict.
"Our production processes and testing are military grade," said Lisa Lu, Overseas Di rector of Marketing Department at Skyworth Qunxin. "After making a serious effort to understand client needs, we recommend appropriate solutions." Skyworth Qunxin monitors have complete functions, support multi-image signal types and are compatible with most front-end devices.
CMU has a comprehensive range of LCD monitor sizes from 15-inch to 52-inch; its devices come with practical functions, such as AV, S-Video, VGA, DVI, YPbPr and HDMI ports and support 1,080-pixel high resolution. Hot-selling items are its 20-inch and 42-inch high-resolution, high-brightness LCD monitors, but its No. 1 product is its 17-inch LCD all-in-one monitor with built-in DVR.
"In order to meet demand for 24-hour video surveillance," said Song Yong, Marketing Manager of CMU, "our LCD monitors use three-dimensional noise reduction technology to eliminate intense color disturbance and dark-image noise disturbance to improve image resolution and quality. This also ensures high definition in low-illumination environments."
Stonesonic's strength lies in technological creativity. In the past several years, Stonesonic has developed DVR monitors and combination panel walls to suit various market needs. In the U.S., DVR and quad monitors are popular, while traditional small, easy-to-operate devices that are more environmentally friendly get the European's nod of approval.
User LCD sells monitor s and combination processors with combination panel walls, pure hardware without operating systems and good scalability (as many screens as needed can be added for higher cost performance). To reduce costs, User LCD uses the same boards in its 40-inch monitors as it does in its 15-inch ones. Its products are also equipped with three-dimensional digital-noise reduction technology to reduce snowy effects.
"We are also planning to adopt new technology PixelWorks (PW) to come out with a solution that offers better contrast and strong reducibility to improve overall quality," said Chen Jiandong, General Manager Assistant of User LCD.
To target niche markets, Chinese monitor suppliers are developing large-screen monitors, combination panel walls, combination processors and monitors with built-in DVRs.
Sophisticated applications encompass multiple-screen combination panel walls, which are used in government offices, police stations and financial centers. Most feature LCD screens with high resolution, high brightness and small-gap (less than one centimeter) designs.
Skyworth Qunxin launched an LCD combination panel wall; major features include stylish framing, panel array combinations, multiple video input and output formats, and ultra-thin bezels as well as high definition, brightness and color saturation. Other pluses are advanced configuration settings, environmental friendliness and low maintenance cost.
Looking to smaller applications, both Stonesonic and CMU have monitors with built-in DVRs that serve as surveillance displays, while realizing real-time remote control and playback via the Internet.
"Development will tend to focus on providing bigger sizes and additional functions," said Zhou Yuesheng, President and Senior Engineer of Stonesonic. "This year, we are promoting IP monitors and 108-inch large-screen monitors."
Sharpvision is marketing display monitors for vehicle security solutions. According to Shi Ximin, President of Sharpvision, the main difference between vehicular display and regular CCTV monitors is that the former can be used in tough environments. To provide the needed voltage in mobile environments, Sharpvision has developed a monitor with a built-in battery. The delicate design is highly suited for bumpy roads. Finally, products have to operate well in -40 degrees to 80 degrees Celsius.
Other features of note include auto-shift of channels and auto-adjust of brightness. The latest from Sharpvision features an LCD with quad display that supports separate parameter setting for each camera.
Andre Stornes, President of SmartProdukter (a Norwegian-based distributor) has been cooperating with Chinese suppliers for years. Every year, his company sells 500 rear-view LCD monitors. Stornes stressed that sharpness and side view are very important features. Weatherproof monitors for offshore applications are also on the company's shopping list.
For Stornes, the packing must be attractive with all products shipped in nice color cartons with English user manuals. "Norwegian costumers want high-quality products that look good from the get go," he explained.
John Nowacki, International CCTV Product Manager at Ness (an Australiabased distributor and manufacturer) is interested in doing business with Chinese players, but has held back because of the following problems: communication (English skills), quality, cost and customer service regarding standards and local requirements.
Nowacki noted that testing of power input reliability, resolution display, input trigger, scan response, live-site (30+ days) and compatibility is key. Nowacki also regards willingness to do OEM and ODM work as important as well as ability to meet local requirements and standards.
According to Nowacki, LCDs are a major trend with micro LEDs taking over in four or five years. "The only thing holding back sales at present is cost, resolution and overall reliability on currently available screens," he said.
In the next five years, he continued, margins will increase on smaller screens as they are mass produced at a higher quantity and cheaper prices. "CCTV buyers, suppliers and wholesalers will retain cost savings and this will help make up for smaller margins on larger screens." Larger screens (17-inch to 32-inch TFT LCD), he said, currently dominate the CCTV market (80 percent).
As megapixel cameras, hybrid DVRs and NVRs become more affordable and reliable, they will enable real-time video streaming to display 1,080-pixel or greater images. High-definition (HD) CCTVs will become the next buzz word as the market moves fully into a digital world.