Why Should I Buy Surveillance Monitors Over Standard Monitors?

We got an order for about 52 Samsung SMT2232 Monitors from a client. Although we are supplying the equipment as per the tender, I wanted to know what exactly is the advantage of surveillance grade LED monitors as made by Samsung or Pelco over their standard LED counterparts. Is it a gimmick to repackage the screen at more than double the price or is there any value that we can pitch to consumers?

Abid, good question.

The marketing claim is that surveillance specific monitors are more durable / reliable / longer lasting, built to run 24/7 for years, unlike commercial ones.

I do not know enough here to have an meaningful opinion. Let's see what everyone say.

I have been looking for a proper white paper or a statement from a manufacturer that highlights the advantage.

A manufacturer of surveillance monitors is inevitably going to say that you should buy surveillance monitors. Are you looking for real information or you just want a marketing document to justify buying surveillance monitors?


This white paper covers most of it. While the white paper is directed towards the AV industry, the same principles apply to hospitality, healthcare, education, and security grade displays. If you search for "professional grade display vs. consumer tv" a lot of data will turn up.

It essentially boils down to the warranty. Consumer grade displays typically have shorter warranties and if you check the terms -- the warranty is void if used in a commercial, 24/7 use. Further, professional grade displays can be mounted in portrait view where consumer displays are not designed for this and fail quickly. Professional grade usage in video walls is also important -- most consumer displays are not designed to be in such close quarters. In fact, many professional grade displays are not designed for this and they void warranties when there is no gap. Finally, many of the professional displays have more inputs, outputs, and have specialized connections (e.g. BNC) designed for the market they are targeted towards. Low production volumes, longer and broader warranties, and specialized electronics equals greater cost.

At the size of display you are using I would worry much less about warranties since they are essentially commodities at that size.

Check the warranty and manuals for any product used and apprise the customer appropriately.

"Further, professional grade displays can be mounted in portrait view where consumer displays are not designed for this and fail quickly."

I've never heard of this before. What's the reasoning?

@Undisclosed A Manufacturer - Good question. Gravity is one reason. The panelling can bow and break. Cooling is another reason. Consumer displays (TVs) have minimal ventilation while professional ones have venting for any orientation and sometimes have fans. Most consumers have no need to mount a display in portrait mode so the displays are designed and warranteed with this in mind.

Some additional clarification: There are some consumer grade displays that can be mounted in portrait mode.

As John mentions, most (probably all) of the whitepapers are simply someone trying to sell you the product but the warranty is set in stone. If it is mounted in portrait mode it was likely used for digital signage, which is a commercial use. Vizio, for example, cuts the warranty to 90 days from 1 year if used commercially. Some manufacturers wholly invalidate warrantees if used commercially.

Samsung manufactures both and yet I can't find any differenciator given by them. I can throw a marketing pitch to sell something. What I need is either a white paper to back it up or actual solid facts as to why one should invest in a surveillance LED. Especially since the technical specifications do not highlight anything noteworthy to justify the price difference.

Also, Pakistan does not have any standards imposed on monitoring. Is there any standard internationally for what type of monitors should be used for surveillance?

I know of no international standards for surveillance monitor type. There are probably standards on size of monitors or position of monitors but not about type of monitor.

A manufacturer whitepaper is just a formalized marketing brochure. Please do not make decisions on that.

Two things many surveillance monitors have are real glass front panels and metal housings. Also, most surveillance monitors with analog inputs have BNC connectors and looping inputs.

I agree with Carl about the inputs, but if you do not NEED those inputs I have found no reason to buy surveillance specific monitors. As long as the monitor you get has the inputs you need you should be fine as long as you go with an industrial model. A good monitor will last years.

I have been using the same NEC monitors my company pulled down from out on the factory floor 12 years ago when they switched to Panasonic models. They have run 24/7 for the past 12 years with no issues other than some serious screen burn.

When my company switched to Samsung models I received some of the Panasonics and have been using them for the past 6 years. Again 24/7 with no issues other than screen burn. My hope is in the next year or two when they upgrade to something different I will receive a few of the Samsung models!

I have a strong suspicion that Samsung uses similar or identical panels as their regular commercial monitors. Their regular 22' monitor has the same resolution, reposnse time, brightness, viewing angle, and contrast ratio as the SMT-2232. The SMT-2232 has BNC connectors, a higher quality cabinet, a glass panel, lower operating temps, and speakers.

Is that worth an extra $350 per unit?

In all likelihood you are correct that it is the same panel. There is always "binning" like how NVidia, AMD and Intel make a wide range of processors using the same die. If it tests well at a lower voltage they consider it a more stable processor and put it in the Xeon pile. If it doesn't perform as well it gets labelled a Core processor and has certain features disabled or enabled. This may be a panel that met more stringent tests.

Thank you for your valuable input. Is there any feature in surveillance monitors that has less strain on the eyes ?

One advantage of surveillance monitors is often the ability to configure and lock-out various inputs so that the user can't plug their own DVD player or XBox or other equipment into the display on the night shift.

Are you implying that night shift security guards are bringing XBoxs to work? ;)

Sometimes it is a PS3 or PS4!

Abid, I don't see anything in the spec sheet that would help to reduce eye strain any more than a consumer panel. Usually a matte panel in lieu of glossy would be ideal.

Since Pelco was stated directly in the OP, and I manage Pelco's monitor line, allow me to shed some light here.

The principle difference between a Consumer Electronics monitor and a Security monitor is average daily use. Consumer Electronics monitors are designed to run 4-6 hours a day, whereas Security monitors are designed to run 24 hours a day. That design includes power supplies designed to run 24/7, backlighting designed to run 24/7 and other components that have higher tolerances than what you might find in a CE equivalent.

For those of you who might scoff at this simple definition, I harken you back to the early days of hard-drive based security DVRs, because the situation is similar. Back in 2004-2005, we saw those hard drives fail a lot because they simply were not designed for 24/7 use. In fact I had one big name HDD manufacturer tell us back in the day that CE hard drives were only meant to spin 2-3 hours a day, whereas security DVR HDDs were spinning 24/7. They had to specifically design a new breed of drive controller and other components to support 24/7 use. A similar reality exists for security monitors today.

But yes, as somebody pointed out, warranty is also a factor. Most CE monitors carry a 90-day warranty, or some offer a warranty as high as one year. Most security monitors carry a 3-year warranty.

Are the higher tolerance components and the better warranties (and the better customer service support) worth the premium price? Many of our customers tell us the answer to that is 'yes', but I'll also admit the price compression in the CE space is applying pressure in the security space when it comes to monitors.

Many of the other factors cited in the other comments (input types, cooling capability, etc.) are real as well, but I also know that Security manufacturers optimize their scalers and other tuning controls around security video inputs as opposed to broadcast inputs. I even know one manufacturer that does a sort of digital WDR correction on their security monitors. The point is, there are actual, real physical differentiators in security monitors over CE monitors that make them more expensive to build and thus higher price to the customer.

Thank you for the informative post.

Are there diferences between Security monitors and other professional grade monitors?

Jason, thanks.

Btw, what is the rough cost differential of security vs consumer monitors. I am trying to get a sense of the premium.

John, it's hard to give you a distinct answer for that, because even if you center on a single size of monitor (e.g. 48") the range of inexpensive to very expensive monitors just in the CE space is vast.

What we fine very roughly speaking is that for a CE monitor that is approximately the same features as a given security monitor is about half to two-thirds the price of that security monitor. But the exceptions are so legion that it's really hard to nail it down.

I can't speak to professional grade monitors thoroughly, but I have some experience with broadcast grade monitors (used in newsrooms and production studios) and generally they have the same 24/7 requirements that security monitors have.

Ironically, broadcast grade professional monitors are about 2X the price of Security monitors, but that customer base never complains about the price.


As I recall, broadcast grade monitors have additional capabilities and tweaks that neither consumer grade nor surveillance grade monitors have. Many have features like underscan capability, Blue Only, Color/Monochrome control, Safety Areas, Tally Lights, Focus Assist, Time Code Display, Freeze Frame Picture and Picture, Audio Disembedding, and even Audio Level Meters.

Most also have the ability to display REC 709, SMPTE C, EBU or native Wide Gamut Mode and have adjustable Gamma & Color Temperature Presets. They also must pass rigorous factory certification and testing to ensure accurate gray scale and color temperature.

Hence the extremely high cost. (I used to work in studio maintenance engineering.)

By the way, I used a 14" Sony Trinitron Studio Monitor for many years when I was repairing VCRs and camcorders. I purchased it used from All Mobile Video in NYC - my friend worked there. Great monitor, it had very accurate color and gray scale - perfect for my test bench.


Thanks for the education. I only did minor research in my comparison and I don't have the direct broadcast industry experience you do.

just make sure you purchase monitor with external power supply. i have never seen any monitors fail any parts except power supply. if it had an internal one we had to send it to repair, if it had external we bought a new power adapter for buttons and replaced it on site.

even consumer grade monitors working in 24/7 work without any failure except their power supply.

Karoly, thanks for the feedback.

Do most consumer monitors come with internal / integrated power supplies? I am curious.

ultra slim models have usually external.

vesa mount is also a must if it has to be mounted on wall.

For a while wet electrolytic capacitors were failing on a lot of consumer displays which was on the DC inverter board internal to the display. I am pretty sure this affected more than just the display industry though. I know everyone, including Apple was damaged by bursting capacitors for a while (see: eMac, iMac G5).

In a way, and this is meaning no offense to the original poster, this thread is analogous to the discussion everyone in our industry has faced:

"Why do I need to purchase your $900 IP cameras when Costco has a $500 kit with 8 cameras"


I so totally agree with your last statement.


My electronics service background leads me to agree with you. In fact, electrolytic capacitors are among the highest source of failures in non-mechanical electronics equipment. One could argue that heat is also a major source of failures but heat also negatively affects electrolytic capacitors, as does cold.

The vast majority of power supply problems I encountered during ~30 years servicing electronics equipment were caused by electrolytic capacitors. DC Switching power supplies were notoriously trouble-prone. The input capacitor, typically a high-value, high voltage electrolytic, is sensitive to power line spikes and the low voltage electrolytics used to filter output voltages and provide feedback to the voltage regulator circuitry tend to have relatively short life spans.

There is one option to "wet" electrolytic capacitors - tantalum electrolytics. They are "dry", relying on a thin oxide layer for dielectric. But tantalums have their own problems, including much higher cost, inability to tolerate voltage spikes and their potentials for thermal runaway and shorting out. According to Capacitor Guide: "Tantalum capacitors have a potentially dangerous failure mode. In case of voltage spikes, the tantalum anode may come in contact with the manganese dioxide cathode, and if the energy of the spike is sufficient it may start a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction produces heat and is self-sustaining and may produce smoke and flame. To prevent this thermal runaway from happening, external failsafe circuitry such as current limiters and thermal fuses should be used in conjunction with tantalum capacitors." Obviously, that also adds to cost. Tantalum capacitors are also rarely found with voltage ratings higher than ~35-50VDC, making them unsuitable for many applications.

In any case, manufacturers typically choose to utilize the lowest cost components for most applications. Conservative circuit design employs components chosen so that even under worst case conditions they never exceed 70% of their ratings but that adds cost. In many cases, manufacturers take a Russian Roulette approach, designing circuits that leave little margin for real world conditions. That was likely the case in the failures you described.


With respect, I disagree. Yes, it's true that if you have an external power supply, and the power supply fails, it's easier to replace it as an external consumable rather than have to have the entire unit repair. But in my experience, units built with external power supplies tend to be more cheaply built and with cheaper grade power supplies. Several years ago Pelco went the external power supply route and we met with very poor results in overall quality. Our current display line has internal power supplies and they are rock-solid.

Regarding your comment that CE monitors can be run 24/7 with no problems and run as long as more robustly built monitors, I hear very different stories from our customers. Some say what you say, others say that a CE monitor in a 24/7 environment sometimes will go the distance, but that the pixel and backlighting failure rate is much higher than security monitors. I know one SI that uses CE monitors that says the average large format CE monitor backlighting lasts about 18 months then starts to go, because the LEDs are lower tolerance and aren't meant to be hot for sustained runs and start to fail. This SI doesn't care though, he says he just throws them away and replaces them for his customers (he buys very cheap monitors). So, you do actually get what you pay for.

John, in answer to your question, about 95% of Consumer Electronics displays made today have internal power supplies. That's based on a very recent review I did, on the web and in 4 retail store locations, where I looked at 30-40 different models in each store.