A Review of the BT-4LH310E 31” 4K IPS LED LCD Broadcast monitor from Panasonic
Panasonic’s BT-4LH310E is a true 4K monitor for professional cinema and broadcasting studio settings. As such, it’s specs and price tag definitely reflect this design. While there are other Pro monitors on the market that arguably offer better color coverage and other features, the BT-4LH310E is nonetheless one very powerful piece of 4K display technology that’s been designed with some very serious broadcast and cinema editing uses in mind.
Featuring a stunning true 4K display resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels and a conventional ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, this monitor also provides a reference-level image quality and color reproduction to match.
Not only does it meet the sRGB and AdobeRGB color gamut standards, it has also been built to meet the needs of the digital cinema DCI-P3 color spectrum.
When it comes to the BT-4LH310E, amateur and casual 4K monitor seekers might do well to steer clear though. This particular 4K display monitor sells for over 23,000 dollars and is suited far more towards a pro studio environment than a PC gaming rig or home office.
The BT-4LH310E starts its superb professional features off with a cinema grade true 4K resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels on its LCD screen. This makes it ideal as a reference monitor and as a screen for full-blown video/broadcast footage editing of material that has also been filmed in the same cinematic true 4K resolution. This means that this Panasonic monitor allows for native viewing of 4K DCI (4096 x 2160 pixel) content as well as of UHD content in 3840 x 2160 pixels. Regardless of which type of ultra HD you use, the on-screen imagery is displayed in a native resolution and aspect ratio.
However, for a deeper level of flexibility, the BT-4LH310E can also be used for a wide range of 2KK and even Full HD video resolutions. This makes it ideal as an all-in-one post production solution for numerous assignment types as well as top-level corporate, education or even laboratory resolution needs as well as computer graphic editing and digital simulation applications at very high levels of detail.
Then there is the color coverage of the BT-4LH310E. the monitor’s native 4096 x 2160 LCD panel comes with IPS panel technology for maximal color reproduction and clear viewing angle flexibility. Furthermore, the IPS on this particular display comes with 10-bit color reproduction, meaning that faithful reproduction of 1.07 billion colors is very much possible. Now, many much cheaper monitors also claim to have 10-bit color and the ability to show 1.07 billion colors, but the BT-4LH310E actually delivers on this with its absolutely superb, professional-grade and maximal coverage of several different color gamuts from sRGB to the rarified DCI-P3 gamut. In fact, its native LCD manages about 96% of the full DCI-P3 spectrum, according to Panasonic itself.
B&H Photo Video
The real kicker with the BT-4LH310E is its sheer price and what you get for it. Yes, this is a genuine pro broadcast/ cinema reference 4K monitor but then again, so is the Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K and it retails for less than a third of the price of the BT-4LH310E while even providing better DCI-P3 color gamut coverage at 98% of the spectrum instead of 96%.
Furthermore, the connectivity on the BT-4LH310E, while highly professional in many ways, is also lacking in others. This insanely expensive 4K broadcast monitor features dual DisplayPort 1.1 ports and 2 HDMI 1.4 ports, neither of which speak too well of its ability to render 4K graphics at a high refresh rate.
The BT-4LH310E is a truly professional 4K broadcast monitor that has been built with industry specialists and video editors in mind. However, despite its technical superiority in many areas, it lacks a few basic things that it should have for its extremely high retail price.
The BT-4LH310E is a truly professional K4 broadcast monitor that has been built with industry specialists and video editors in mind. However, despite its technical superiority in many areas, it lacks a few basic things that it should have for its extremely high retail price.
Weight: 44.1 lbs with stand, 40.8 lbs without stand
Dimensions: (WxHxD): 29-13/16 inches × 18-5/8 inches × 5-3/16 inches without stand/ 29-13/16 inches × 19-1/2 inches × 10-3/16 inches with stand
Screen size: 31.1 inches, measured diagonally
Contrast ratio: 1500:1
Colors: 1.07 billion colors
Brightness: 350 cd/m2
Refresh Rate: 60Hz
Screen Lighting: LED
Response time: 9 ms grey-to-grey
Resolution: 4096 x 2160
Aspect Ratio: 17:9
Connectivity Ports: 2 HDMI 1.4, 2 x DisplayPort 1.1, headphone jack, BNC x 4, with active through-out, SDI output, D-SUB, 9 pin x 1, GPI, D-SUB, 9 pin x 1 RS-232C, Stereo mini jack,
SDI Inputs: BNC x 4, SMPTE ST424/425-1/274/296 compliant, embedded audio supported 3G-SDI: SMPTE ST299 compliant, 48 kHz, synchronous supported, audio16 channel supported HD SDI: SMPTE ST299 compliant, 48 kHz, synchronous supported, audio 8 channel supported
Highlights of the Panasonic BT-4LH310E include a number of professional grade connectivity, color, design, display and video editing features.
To start with, the BT-4LH310E is both built with a highly rugged aluminum frame design and AC/DC power supply capability. Both of these were chosen by Panasonic to ensure a maximum level of mobility and toughness in demanding studio environments or during transportation from one set or studio to another under variable conditions.
Then there are the visual features of the BT-4LH310E. These include the already-mentioned 4096 X 2160 native resolution, which can also be scaled down to a 3840 x 2160 UHD resolution or even further down to 2K and HD settings by splitting the screen thanks to the monitor’s Quad Display function, which can be used to show both a waveform monitor (WFM) and a vector scope (VSC) as well as Focus-inRed, Y Map, and Zebra Assist functions at the same time with a complete pixel image from a 2K input (2048 x 1080 pixels) or an HD input (1920 x 1080 pixels).
The Quad Display function also allows for just one BT-4LH310E to be used as four different 2K/HD monitors, displaying full pixel images without any resizing.
The BT-4LH310E also features a LUT Upload function for lookup table uploading. This means the arrival of high-precision color management to the digital cinema workflow this monitor is designed for. During shoots, images can be uploaded and checked on the monitor’s display with the same color settings that get used during editing.
Finally, we should also mention Frame Grab, the technology of the BT-4LH310E which can be used to grab a single still image from a video sequence in 4K, UHD, 2K or HD resolutions and display it on the screen. This is an ideal feature for comparing camera angles and color variations between shoots or frames even.
We’ve already covered the native true 4K resolution of the BT-4LH310E and have also gone over its multiple resolution capabilities by which it can downscale to 3840 pixel ultra HD resolution or split the screen into multiple 2K and Full HD displays that run simultaneously. Through these, the LCD IPS panel of this particular monitor can be used for all sorts of comparison and contrast work in color and video editing during production of broadcasting and studio movie content.
Furthermore, the BT-4LH310E offers excellent color spectrum coverage of 96% for the DCI-P3 gamut used in digital cinema. On top of this, it pretty much perfectly covers the sRGB and Adobe RGB spectrums while also being capable of offering 100% color coverage for the older BT709, EBU and SMPTE-C standards.
The IPS panel of the Panasonic BT-4LH310E offers a superb 10-bit color coverage of 1.07 billion colors which the monitor actually is capable of delivering in practice and because we’re talking about IPS panel technology, the viewing angles of this monitor are excellent at about 178 degrees of wide viewing in both horizontal and vertical directions.
A number of functions are built into the BT-4LH310E’s software for assisting in video shooting and post-production at either 4K, 2K or HD settings. These features for visual edit augmentation include a Focus Assist technology that comes with Focus-in-Red and zoom functions to help create extremely precise focusing when shooting with cameras in any of the above resolutions.
The Focus-in-Red is particularly useful for showing a sharply focused area of camera video by highlighting it in a very visible red color. As for the zoom, well it’s great for enlarging the center sections of a UHD image and resizing it to fir the whole screen for more accurate editing.
Finally, the BT-4LH310E allows users to turn on or off the display of each individual RGB color in the spectrum while also providing a Y Map feature that allows easy visual confirmation of on-screen luminance by assigning simple colors for each grade of luminance, which can be measured by an included reference chart.
In terms of connectivity, the Panasonic BT-4LH310E 4K monitor both disappoints and really goes beyond the scope of more conventional 4K monitors. How is this possible? Because on the one hand, it doesn’t provide either DisplayPort 1.2 connectivity or HDMI 2.0 ports while on the other hand, the BT-4LH310E does offer a wide range of professional editing connections such as: BNC x 4, with active through-out, SDI output, D-SUB, 9 pin x 1, GPI, D-SUB, 9 pin x 1 RS-232C, Stereo mini jack and a wide range of SDI Inputs with various compatibilities and settings.
Also, the HDMI ports are HDCP and embedded audio supported and the same applies to the DisplayPort connections, which also offer embedded audio support.
The price of the Panasonic BT-4LH310E 31” 4K IPS LED LCD Broadcast monitor is nowhere near affordable by any normal standards. Panasonic originally released the BT-4LH310E with a suggested retail price of $28,000 but since that 2014 release date, this has gone down to “just” $23,500.
B&H Photo Video
To summarize very quickly, the BT-4LH310E is a fantastic and deeply professional 4K monitors with some solid pro studio and cinema editing features, but it also cost a lot more than it needs to considering the competition. Furthermore, the absence of HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 connectivity is unfortunate. Possibly this is the case because this model was originally released at the very end of 2013.
• Excellent refresh rate
• Superb contrast ratio
• Professional color range
• True 4K resolution of 4096x2160 pixels
• No HDMI 2.0
• Extraordinarily expensive
• No DisplayPort 1.2
• Getting old