Are the New SmallHD Smart 5 Monitors Really Fit for Pros?

Are the New SmallHD Smart 5 Monitors Really Fit for Pros?
Credit: SmallHD
The new 5-inch monitors are very similar to the Smart 7 and UltraBright series, but do the small siblings pack enough punch for a professional production?

SmallHD has been creating high-quality and affordable monitors for quite some time. Now the company is under the umbrella of Videndum Creative Solutions, along with Teradek and Wooden Camera. 

Now the subsidiary has debuted a new lineup, the SmallHD Smart 5 series, running a new operating system called PageOS 5. There are three touchscreen monitors in the series—the Ultra 5, Cine 5, and Indie 5. All three were developed after hearing that professionals wanted a smaller solution than the company’s Smart 7 and UltraBright series.

But do these new, smaller monitors have enough punch to keep up? Let’s take a look.

Small but Mighty—The Ultra 5

The new SmallHD Ultra 5 from SmallHD comes with built-in integration for high-end cinema cameras such as those from RED, ARRI, and Sony VENICE. Users will be able to control these cameras right from the monitor, which is a nice touch for a third-party company. I'd say that's a check in the pro column. 

The Ultra 5Credit: SmallHD

The Ultra 5 features:

  • 5-inch Edgelit LCD with 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 3000 nits brightness and 1000:1 contrast ratio
  • 4:2:2 10-bit color depth 
  • Camera Control: RED, ARRI, Sony VENICE
  • 2x 3G-SDI ports (I/O) & 2x HDMI 2.0 ports (I/O)
  • Locking 5-pin USB for RED camera control 

The SmallHD Ultra 5 is also the heartiest monitor of the bunch, and while it doesn't include an integrated battery plate, it does have a slot for optional backplates so creatives can utilize their Gold Mount or V-Mount batteries. While there's no B-mount option yet, official or unofficial, I'd eat my own shoe if SmallHD didn't release one in the future.

Another leg up over its siblings, the Ultra 5 has an ethernet port and three custom function buttons. As you'll eventually see, it also has the brightest screen at 3000 nits, which means the Ultra 5 should fit well into any production.

Unfortunately, at $2,199, you'll have to pay for that toolset. There is an option to buy one with a Teradek receiver or transmitter built in, but you'll have to pay a bit more for those too. 

The Goldilocks Zone—The Cine 5

Sitting right in the middle of the trio, the SmallHD Cine 5 tempers the hot fire of the Ultra 5 with a 2000 nit screen and integrated camera controls for only the RED line of cameras. It also shed the three custom function buttons for one side button and a single joystick, and replaced the modular battery solution with two built-in slots for Sony L-series batteries. There's also a 2-pin locking connector if you want to pull power from the wall. However, you'll still get all the useful software features from the PageOS 5, which you can read about here.

The Cine 5Credit: SmallHD

The Cine 5 features:

  • 5-inch Edgelit LCD with 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 2000 nits brightness and 1000:1 contrast ratio
  • 4:2:2 10-bit color depth 
  • Camera Control: RED cameras only
  • 2x 3G-SDI ports (I/O) and 2x HDMI 2.0 ports (I/O)
  • Locking 5-pin USB for RED camera control

While it won't be as versatile as the Ultra 5, the Cine 5 is a perfect companion for any production that relies on RED cameras. If you find the RED's monitor solutions to not fit your needs, SmallHD might be the answer. And at $1,599 it won't break the bank as much as the Ultra 5.  

Reduced Features, Knockout Punch—The Indie 5

Finally, the SmallHD Indie 5 rounds out the Smart 5 series. While it's not as bright, you still get 1000 nits, which is more than enough for indie productions. Much like the Cine 5, creatives will see 2 Sony L-series battery slots on the back but will forgo the buttons and joystick. Sadly, the 2-pin locking connector is also gone, replaced with a 2mm barrel power input.

Even with all those sacrifices, the Indie 5 is still a worthwhile monitor that offers 4:2:2 10-bit HD video. It won't be a bargain at $1,299, but you'll be getting what you pay for. 

The Indie 5Credit: SmallHD

The Indie 5 features:

  • 5-inch Edgelit LCD with 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 1000 nits brightness and 1000:1 contrast ratio
  • 4:2:2 10-bit color depth 
  • Camera Control: RED cameras only*
  • 2x 3G-SDI ports (Input & I/O) and 2x HDMI 2.0 ports (Input & I/O)
  • Micro-USB for RED camera control 

As for camera controls, this is where things get a bit blurry. While B&H states that the Indie 5 can control RED cameras via a micro USB port, SmallHD's website states the Indie 5 doesn't have that feature. But some good news, monitor camera controls are said to be "coming soon," so maybe we'll see something different in the future.  

Our Thoughts

The Smart 5 touchscreen displays from SmallHD are pretty cool and not as unwieldy as the Smart 7 or UltraBright monitors. They still have the pro features needed when shooting on high-end cameras like the RED KOMODO and ARRI ALEXA, but don't take up the precious real estate that's become critical in digital productions. 

While the prices may seem high, the features and usability are perfect for working professionals who need to ensure the picture is accurate for the client or director and producer. If you’re new to the game of film and video content creation, SmallHD has a number of incredible and affordably-priced monitors to get familiar with, such as the Action 5 touchscreen monitor ($329), before you’re called up to the big leagues. 

Learn more at SmallHD's site    

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