Brightside intros 200,000:1 contrast ratio display

San Francisco (CA) - Canadian startup Brightside announced what it claims to be the first "extreme dynamic range" display. The device sports a massive 200,000:1 contrast ratio and a 16-bit color capability that result in higher image quality than any other display we have seen before. The device is on sale now - for approximately 100 times the price of a current high-quality 19" LCD.

With current and future graphics chips making giant leaps in enhancing image quality, mainstream and even higher-end displays turn out to be an increasingly painful bottleneck for enthusiasts to take advantage of these improvements. Most displays often can't follow graphic cards erformance - for example due to relatively slow response times and a color resolution that is limited to 8 bits per pixel in almost every display sold to consumers today.

Users and developers looking for the ultimate image experience, however, are getting a new option with future high dynamic range (HDR) and extreme dynamic range (EDR) displays, which promise picture quality that comes close to the picture you would see when looking out a window. Brightside says it is offering the first commercial EDR display: The 37" panel DR-37P does not look much different than a stylish 16:9 LCD TV but offers specs that are beyond any other LCD available on the market today - at least to our knowledge.

The display's maximum brightness is rated at 3000 cd per m2, the contrast ratio is indicated to be virtually "infinite", as the device is capable capability to display a "zero" amount of light and achieve a perfect black color. According to common rating standards, however, contrast ratio is 200,000, Brightside said. Other features of the LCD include 170-degree viewing angles, a maximum resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels, HD-DI and DVI-D connects, support for input from up to two graphic cards, and OpenGL and DirectX9 capability. Power consumption peaks at 1680 watts - about three times what a enthusiast PC consumes under gaming conditions.

Much of the display's image quality is a result of 16-bit color support. While the LCD provides an 8-bit (255-step) brightness control by itself, Brightside added an LED backlight array that delivers an additional 8 bit. According to the manufacturer, LEDs provide much greater brightness and control which enable to achieve close to true-life image quality.

A demonstration of the display appeared to prove Brightsides claims and and convinced us quickly to add the display to our Christmas wishlist. Unfortunately, the DR-37P is a low volume display that - at least for now - is targeted at professional markets, including game developers and healthcare applications. Reflecting its low volume counts, the price of Brightsides supermodel is high enough to keep most of us from actually bringing the display home: The list price is $49,000.