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SONY SSM-14N1E COLOUR VIDEO MONITOR

 

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Video monitors play a critical role in the effective operation of a surveillance system, yet they are widely regarded as commodity items. Part of the reason is their largely passive, functional nature, and the fact that they all look pretty much the same. Manufacturers and designers have little opportunity to make their products stand out, moreover there’s a widely held belief that there are only relatively small differences in performance and reliability, between the various brands.

 

In that respect Sony have an advantage. Their well-earned reputation for quality in the domestic TV market is clearly an asset, and this is due in part to the outstanding performance of their Trinitron picture tubes. A 14-inch Trinitron tube is the core component in the new SSM-14N1E high resolution colour video monitor; this is fairly obvious from the outside, even before it’s switched on. The faceplate has the characteristic cylindrical curve and the corners of the screen are square and sharply defined.

 

Sony have to operate within the constraints of standardised mounting systems, so the monitor has few adornments. The front panel is stepped back from the screen surround, it’s clean and uncluttered with a small grille on the left side for the speaker. On the right there’s a group of four picture and sound control buttons, plus the main on/off switch. On the sides of the EIA standard rack-mounting steel-cased cabinet there’s a pair of carry-handles; on the back panels there are six input and output sockets, plus an IEC mains connector. The six sockets handle video and audio inputs and outputs: there are two BNC connectors for composite video, two mini DIN sockets for S-Video or Y/C configured video, and two female phono/RCA sockets for the audio. The two video outputs are looped-through from the inputs and automatically terminated when not in use. Input switching is automatic, with the S-Video input socket having priority.

 

Picture and sound adjustments are controlled from a simple on-screen menu display. Pressing the menu button once brings up the first six selections. They are for volume, contrast, brightness, chroma (saturation), phase and the next page selector. Page two covers colour system select, display duration, language and user memory.

 

Most of the menu functions are self explanatory but a few items are worth looking at a little more detail. The phase adjustment is used to correct colour errors on NTSC input signals, it has no effect when used with a PAL source. The colour select options are: auto, NTSC comb, NTSC, NTSC 4.43, PAL and SECAM. The display mode sets the length of time information remains on the screen; ‘short’ lasts for a few seconds whilst the ‘long’ setting keeps displays active for 5 minutes. The display can be in one of 5 languages, they are: English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. Finally, the user memory displays setting and stores changes to any of the menu settings, or returns the monitor to the factory defaults.

 

CONSTRUCTION

The monitor is built in the UK though the picture tube is sourced from Japan. This is a little surprising in view of the fact that Sony manufacture Trinitron tubes at their plant in Bridgend plant in Wales.  In the base of the cabinet there’s a single, large PCB carrying all of the power supply, scanning and deflection circuitry. There are two further circuit boards, one plugged directly in the main PCB, the other on the back panel, behind the input and output sockets. Between them they handle picture and sound controls and video processing. The overall standard of construction -- inside and out -- is very high; cables are neatly dressed and it looks as though it has been built to last.

 

PERFORMANCE

The horizontally curved faceplate has a good viewing angle and produces very few annoying reflections from overhead lighting. The first impression is of a clean, bright picture with sharp, well-defined colours and very little noise. This is confirmed upon closer inspection. Picture linearity is spot on; the contrast range is excellent; colours look natural and lifelike. Maximum resolution on our well-used test sample appeared to be a tad under the 500-lines claimed in the specifications, but the difference is very small and well within what we consider to be an acceptable margin of error.

 

The image is rock solid, our non-standard ‘thump’ test produced only the very slightest picture disturbance. The small speaker delivers a well modulated sound, slightly treble-heavy but that’s fine for speech and incidental noise.

 

The menu controls are logically laid out and very simple to use. Each adjustment is assigned a numerical value (volume and contrast 0-100, brightness and saturation -50 to +50, with zero representing the standard setting), this can be useful for applications that demand a very precise picture adjustment.

 

CONCLUSION

Unlike most other video surveillance components, that are getting smaller, smarter and generally more efficient, monitors are saddled with a dowdy, unglamorous image. It would be unfair to expect Sony to change that on their own -- maybe they  will when their flat-screen Plasmatron display enters the market -- nevertheless the SSM-14N1E does manage to stand out from the crowd. Picture quality is excellent; the best demonstration is to stand it next to another monitor, connected to the same source. In most cases there is a small but perceptible difference in the sharpness and clarity of the image, colours look brighter and the picture appears to have added depth. Needless to say the SSM-14N14 is more expensive than most of its rivals, but the difference is relatively small and more than offset by the performance and quality of construction.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/model                  SONY SSM-14N1E

Video system                PAL, NTSC, NTSC 4.43, SECAM

Resolution                     500-lines

Freq. response            6MHz

 

Inputs/outputs            composite, 1 v p-p, Y/C, line-audio

Connectors                    video in/out (BNC), Y/C in/out (mini DIN), audio (phono)

                                    mains supply (IEC)

 

Power requirements            100 - 240 volts AC, 80 watts

Operating Temp.            0-35 degrees C

Dimensions                   346 x 414 x 340 mm

Weight              15kg

 

 

PSI RATINGS

 

PERFORMANCE

Picture quality            10

Picture stability            9

Image resolution            9

Linearity                        9

Audio quality                 8

 

OPERATION

Ease of use                   9

Instructions                   9

 

CONSTRUCTION

Build quality                  9

 

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1996 2304

 


 

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