What Is The Highest Resolution Surveillance Monitor You Used?

High definition monitors (e.g., 720p and 1080p) have become fairly common place both in home and security station use.

I am curious though what people are using beyond that - Who's using higher resolution monitors than 1080p? And if you are, what type of video/graphic cards you are using to support that?

I don't think I've even seen a readily-available monitor that goes beyond 1920x1080 - even big 70+ inch TVs max out at 1080p, until you start getting into uber-pricey (and harder to find) 4k displays.

The Apple 27" Display is a beauty for command centers. I've used this with various graphic cards.

Jose, what is its native resolution?

I recently gave away my old Sony 21" Trinitron space heater monitor, used to run it on an ATI All-in-Wonder AGP Radeon 9800 at 2048x1536, and it was crystal clear at that res.

Jose, thanks.

The resolution is 2560 by 1440 pixels or 3.68 MP. See tech specs. Price is $999.

Main limitation appears to be its size - 27" is not that big these days.

Btw, Anyone looking at UltraHD monitors?

Is there any reason one can't use the Dell U30xx series (2560 x 1600 res)?

Femi, thanks for sharing! That's an interesting option at 4MP (2560 x 1600). I wonder if Dell has any large size screens with "HD+" resolution?

Btw, does that Dell series monitor require a specialize video card? I assume most 'stock' cards would not support that resolution.

Btw, does that Dell series monitor require a specialize video card? I assume most 'stock' cards would not support that resolution.

It's requires Dual Link.

A quick newegg.com scan shows Desktop graphic cards ranging in price from $60 to $999 & a high of $3648 for Professional cards.

I use 2 of these on my desktop with a PNY Nvidia Quadro 4000

Also, 4K TV monitor on Amazon for less than $700 USD. Reviews are surprisingly solid.

I played with a 4K display. Pretty cool displaying 4 HD cameras in a virtual matrix at full resolution.

Hal, how much of a difference did you think 4HD cameras on a 4K monitor was vs the same on a 1080p monitor?

4K opens up some interesting use cases. I was using a yet-to-be-released 20' 4K Win8 Tablet (Hands On With Panasonic's 4K Tablet at CES 2013). In this form factor, use is for a single person, not tied to a control room. This would be incredible mounted in the back of a Tahoe for first response - an environment where you're relatively close to the display, and you need clarity, and real estate is at a premium. With virtually no visible pixels, you can put your face 3 inches away from the screen, and the picture is still chrystal clear. You can see that license plate number or that face. Or you can pull up a 3x3 or 4x4 display, and the individual images are still usable, even on a 20' screen. Combine that with a full Windows OS and touchscreen in a RELATIVELY portable form factor, and you have something really special.

Now, 4K for a monitor mounted in a control room? I don't know if te use case is as strong here. Clearer pictures are always good, but i think you run into practical limitations. Are you going to matrix more screens on your 60' monitor? No, you couldn't watch them. Are you going to use wider lenses? Probably not, it will become too large to watch eventually. Real estate is probably not as much of a concern.

I'm looking at "4K Ultra High Definition" monitors for two current projects. This is based upon monitoring operations requirements scenarios that won't be universal, but do exist in the cases of two clients. I can see applications in retail (similar to my license plate example below) and casinos, but the use cases are very specific.

Use Case One

For one project a security officer will need to write down or radio out license plate numbers from a 5 MP camera's image covering a wide field of view in parking areas. The plate numbers are very small in the overall image, and so we design to at least double the recommended plate pixel width because you lose pixel resolution when the plate is at an angle.

This is always something to consider when applying pixels-per-foot or pixels-per-anything—they almost always refer to a situation where you are looking perpendicular to the target object. (John H: I already know you are not a fan of PPF, and I'd agree from the perspective that I've never seen a real-world application such as what we ran into, in the materials providing PPF guidelines.) Perpendicular views happen when the target object’s location and orientation can be well-controlled, a situation that's not often the case. So you have to design for whatever your real-world situation is.

In our case, when we tried to view the entire camera image on a 1080p display, the image was 25% of actual size. That view-time reduction of resolution (whether live or recorded) turned out to be at the crux of this use case, which comes from proof-of-concept testing at the customer site.

When a car was turning and we would get at best a 45°view of the platewe would see one plate number on the laptop computer screen and a different number directly eyeing the plate, standing right under the camera. We’re looking at the image on-screen, and it’s not the number we saw and wrote down. When we resized the image on the laptop up to 100% actual size and centered on the plate, we then did see the number we had written down. Maybe it shouldn't have been a surprise, but it was.

This makes no difference in terms of investigative use of recordings—but it can make a heck of a difference in live monitoring. If the officer at the workstation radios the wrong plate number to the field officer, he’s off on a wild goose chase.

So we need a display that can provide the entire camera image on the screen at 100% actual size. That would have to be four times the 1080p resolution. See the image below for the visual explanation.

Use Cases Two, Three and Four

For another client we’re looking at video from parking areas (same as Use Case One above), factory floors (User Case Two), plus private and public events (Use Case Three). These use cases involve viewing video both at security monitoring workstations, and on a video wall (Use Case Four).

The factory floors use case involves reading labels on packages that move down the production line. This is for after-incident investigations use, but you still need to watch the video playback at 100% actual video resolution. Otherwise you can’t read the product packaging lettering clearly enough. The safety uses of the factory floor video also require high resolution review of recorded video where the full camera image is 100% actual size on the screen.

For the events use case we want to read license plates, attendee name badges, and get good facial images (at choke points) as well as get good resolution of overall activity. The name badge situation is similar to the license plate use case. We’ll need to view badges in real time on-screen at 100% actual resolution, at the security monitoring workstations. The video wall must have the same resolution as the monitoring workstations.

The Security Operations Center (SOC) video wall serves multiple security and operations stakeholders, and is actually a set of use cases. The video wall displays will be used by security personnel to view real-time dashboards for things like parking area occupancy, visitor tracking, virtual “Escort Me” tracking, television news feeds, live site security video and other data items. Viewed from 10 feet away by security staff, the images must be clear. Management and operations personnel may be in the SOC—or may be standing in the hallway watching the video wall (perpendicular view) through a large observation window, which will be 25 feet from the video wall. A 4x4 group of 60” 4K UHD monitors provides a 7680 x 4320 display capable of presenting a real-time dashboard, and alarm/incident status dashboard, live and recorded video called up by alarms, and views called up by security officers, plus other information displays.

Requirements and Testing

I’m in the process of requirements development right now. The next step is to find appropriate video clips and still images to use for the various use cases, from the customer sites or other sources that accurate represent what we’ll be doing. This includes some example dashboard display images.

These will all go on a workstation computer with a video card that supports four 4K UHD monitors, probably the NVIDIA Quadro K5000 card. Then we’ll march off to Sears and Best Buy to check out the displays on some 50” and 60” UHD displays, as well as some 27” displays for workstations.

I should have also mentioned the future-proofing aspect. We're designing for a 5-year life, then a technology refresh. We can't expect camera technology to stay at a standstill (take panoramic views and immersive video, for example) . So the 4K UHD display will put us in the best position to support upcoming advances that may apply to our operations needs.

To update this thread, a number of new, low cost, 4K monitors were announced this week at CES 2014, which should make it a lot easier to obtain / justify their use.

I just did a post citing this discussion and Ray's excellent explanation: Trend: 4K Monitors for Surveillance.

We use a custom Linux-based geographic information system that has been using 16" 1600X1200 ZMicro Orion displays and Dell U3011 monitors, supporting multiple overlapping HD imagery and video.

Back in 2008, we procured 2-year-old datacenter refurb Supermicro 1U servers as a good price/performance point (some even came from eBay). We don't need cutting edge, but we need more than a standard desktop performance. It happens that these servers had XFX GeForce PCI-e video cards.

Our experience totally supports Ray's observations that uncontrolled target aspect places greater demands on real-time exploitation of display products. Any writing or imagery originating from objects whose trajectories cannot be constrained is unlikely to be optimal, and observed scale can make the difference between success and failure. Time critical operations under resource constraints often lead to occurrences in which the opportunity cost of going back to recapture a past moment is the present moment.

When you are surveying a broad area and time is critical, the ability to place multiple relevant views in a user-friendly context can be fairly critical to performance and productivity. This could also be achieved with a multi-monitor system, but there are space constraints in our application. Also, although they are becoming more seamless, when this system was built, multi-monitor systems tended to create segmentation which can impede smooth presentation and mental flow.

In time critical high value surveillance, there are simply times when measurable performance differences make the difference between success and failure.

When surveillance is seen as "not a profit center" as opposed to a core component, these issues may not be as critical. For example, catching many (though not all) pilfering attempts is probably adequate for both deterrent and economic value. On the margin, it's understandable why this context may not justify the substantial cost premium for larger format displays.

If I have a 5mp Camera system and my monitor is a 1080p monitor, how does this affect the quality of the picture that I am seeing on the monitor?


Sheldon, you will need to digitally zoom in to get the full benefits of the resolution. It will be recorded /captured but it may not be able to be seen without digitally zooming.

For most users, the point of even say 4K is to have it recorded when it is needed, not to display it at full resolution all the time.