Field Test: SmallHD 703 Bolt

Very few tools feel "essential" when they first come out, but the 703 Bolt hands down is the kind of tool that feels destined to be on every set in the near future.

Of course, there have been methods for creating an easy to use wireless directors monitor for decades now, but they always have wires.  Our favorite setup was built around the 702 OLED, which made for a measurably accurate directors monitor, but one with a whole rats nest of cables.  The 703 Bolt, packing a power mount and the Teradek receiver, all into a tiny little case, is just a mile better. 

What we used to use, very messy, but it was what we had.

Every single crew member was fighting over it. It immediately became the tool on set every crew member couldn't live without, and while we of course had a Teradek Serv Pro going and a wireless hookup to a 50" Plasma "client" monitor, the freedom given by the 703 Bolt was the perfect combination to make every crew member feel like it was mandatory.  Unlike the Serv Pro, which is great but requires using your phone which might not be daylight viewable and you need to switch in and out of the app, the SmallHD 703 Bolt was aways bright enough to be viewable, always patched to the Teradek TX, and art department especially loved to grab it and wander off, whenever the director put it down, to help with final set dressing.

SmallHD pagebuilder OS really comes to life here since you end up having the monitor with you so much more since it's such a cohesive unit. The easy way you can zoom in, and then reposition, was useful not just for watching focus but on occaision was great for seeing a performance more closely on the monitor that might not be discernable in the wide view. The ability to program the hot keys on the side to quickly swap features like focus assist and framelines made the unit feel powerful without ever feeling overwhelming.

The picture quality, while not as "purely" accurate as the OLED, was very useable.  On a few occasions we had the 703 Bolt next to the 702 OLED from B camera, and while the colors are slightly different, it wasn't distracting. The LCD was the best decision for the Bolt because of the brightness that allows for full daylight viewing.   While the OLED just couldn't push out the power to walk around outside without a lens shade, when taking the shoot to the street. it was especially appreciated to have all the power that was available from the LCD.  No sun shade needed you could still watch the take in afternoon direct light.

Completely acceptable accuracy. You wouldn't do your final grade on it, but amazing to work with on set and worth it for the brightness it brings.

There are really very few drawbacks.  One to be aware of is that the Sidekick II, which is built is, works with Teradek transmitters from the same generation (the 500/1000/3000), not the older transmitters. If (really, when) Teradek comes out with new transmitters, it's likely that this receiver won't pair with them.  However, the current range has been a huge hit for Teradek and is widespread, and you'll just need to keep a transmitter around that matches the receiver in the Bolt.  

The other drawback is a pure example of the hedonic treadmill: it's so good it just makes you want more. It's so amazing that you kind of immediately want it to be able to pair with multiple transmitters for a 2-camera shoot so you can A/B switch.  There is an audio port, but it's going to give you the audio from the camera SDI output, which means you need the mixer sending their rough mix to the camera in order to have clear audio coming through the port, which adds another wireless transmitter to the sound persons kit.

But if the worst thing you can say about a tool is "this thing is so good it just makes us want to start improving other things on set to match," that's pretty good.

Features:

  • Integrated Bolt Sidekick II receiver works with any Bolt 500, 1000, and 3000
  • 500ft wireless range
  • SmallHD 703 monitor: 3000 nits, 1920x1080 IPS LCD, daylight viewable
  • Dual View Mode allows viewing two input sources simultaneously
  • Supports 100% of REC 709 color space
  • V- or Gold, and Sony L battery options
  • Power efficient: 16W draw
  • 2x 3G-SDI inputs, 1x 3G-SDI output (user selectable)
  • Rugged milled aluminium construction with several ¼-20” mounting holes
  • Pagebuilder OS with Waveform, Scopes, Colorflow 3D LUT Engine, and more

 

 

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