Dolby is primarily known for its professional audio processing equipment, but the company announced a jump into the video reference monitor business with the PRM-4200, a 42-inch LCD monitor with colorimetry that it claims compares to the best CRT monitors and even digital cinema projectors. An array of 4,500 red, green and blue LEDs behind the LCD provide a much higher contrast ratio and better colorimetry than that available with conventional backlights.
Just as audio recording studios often have inexpensive speakers that allow producers and engineers to hear how a mix will sound on consumer equipment, the PRM-4200 can also show how video content will look on inexpensive LCDs in consumers' living rooms. All that flexibility comes at a price, however, and in this case the price will be between $34,000 and $50,000 when it ships later this year. (Dolby isn't known for cheap equipment.)
A number of recent tests have shown that consumer LCDs and plasma displays are getting closer and closer to the performance of reference monitors, so the question for Dolby is how many PRM-4200s it can sell at those prices. Critical applications such as motion picture editing and color correction can justify the price, but the overall market is going to be limited. On the other hand, the technology in the PRM-4200 is similar to that of existing high-end consumer monitors, so Dolby's enhancements are likely to trickle down into the consumer market before too long.