Don’t cha just love how easy display manufacturers make our lives? I recently purchased a display where I had to talk into the remote control to change sources. It automatically sensed the sources connected to it, and its standard remote control automatically became a universal remote control for the entire system. It’s incredible. (In my best Ah-nold voice) “It becomes self-aware at 2:14 AM Eastern time, August 29th.”
The problem with “woke” devices is they don’t always understand the performance specifications they need to meet. They have so many convenience settings that it can be difficult to know where to look when you have to adjust something. A recent commissioning experience comes to mind.
We were testing a new dual-screen videoconference system, and everything was going really well. We wrapped up testing in a few hours and were at that stage where you just take a moment to make sure you didn’t miss anything glaringly obvious while your brain was immersed in the nitty-gritty stuff. That’s when we noticed the displays weren’t quite color balanced. We took out the colorimeter to confirm that they were indeed out of tolerance. This client preferred all displays to be within +/- 10 nits and +/- 250⁰K. The displays were just slightly off, but since they were right next to each other, it was pretty noticeable.
These displays were brand new from a reputable manufacturer. We didn’t notice during the entire test because we’ve honestly never had a problem with this particular brand before. They come color matched right out of the box with no adjustments necessary. We went through all the picture settings and they were all the same. Brightness, Color, Contrast, Picture Mode, etc., were all set to equivalent values. It was very strange that two displays would be so far off with all the same settings.
So, we went to the advanced Picture Mode. Still the same. We looked through every possible menu and they were all the same. It was getting a little frustrating, if I’m being honest. At that point of frustration, when you start to spin your wheels and attempt to try some wacky fix that you know just won’t work, is when I like to take a walk and catch a breath of fresh air.
With fresh eyes, I looked again at the display wall. They were mounted at the same angle. The displays were physically aligned. The only difference I noticed was that the left display was immediately under a fluorescent light and the right display was not. Could that possibly have any effect on the picture?! Well, yes…. Yes it could.
As it turns out, just like your cell phone, to make viewing the display more comfortable for your eyes, this manufacturer included a light sensor on the display to adjust brightness automatically to the ambient light. Low ambient light levels would result in a darker image to avoid strain on the viewers’ iris when switching from looking around the room and then at the bright display. The problem was that the left display was exposed to more ambient light, so it adjusted its brightness settings downward accordingly. The right display was not exposed to as much light, so it had a brighter image…automatically. Well, bless their hearts!
I spent all that time looking through the picture settings and looking for other differences. I didn’t realize that I just should have shut off Eco-Sense mode to avoid this automatic brightness adjustment. This could cause plenty of problems in rooms where the lighting fixtures are not symmetrical to the displays, or where there are windows on one side of the room. Lesson learned. I only wish that my brain was “a neural-net processor: a learning computer,” you know, like Ah-nold’s.