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Review: SmallHD Focus OLED Camera-Top Monitor

Paul Schmutzler tests the SmallHD Focus OLED Camera-Top Monitor on an intense two-week shoot comprising multiple locations indoors and outdoors.

Design Challenges

The other fault I found with this monitor was the fact that it's very well designed almost to the point where it makes things a little challenging to use. The only port that I really used on a regular basis was the HDMI port because the only thing I needed was signal. It uses a micro HMDI port which is very small, and it is a one-way orientation. You have a tapered side and a wide side, just like a full-size HDMI cable would have. The challenge I had was twofold. One, when I put it in the slot, I have to push it all the way into the recess of this corner.

So the connector on the cable actually gets recessed all the way into the frame of the monitor itself, so the only thing left sticking out is the cable part of the monitor. So that made it challenging because I had to hold the cable by the connector, but I had to hold it only a certain direction because I couldn't get my fingers inside the slot. So I had to grab the very back corners of the cable itself and then getting the right orientation. I just had to memorize which way the cable went in because I would fool with it and poke at it for a while and I couldn't get to go in and then I pull it out. I'd take the monitor off and look in there, and in this little dark corner and I'd see that I had the cable turned the wrong way.

Once I memorized which way the cable went, which--pro tip here--the smallest side of the cable faces the front of the monitor, so that'll save you a little trouble there. Once I figured that out and remembered it, it was fine. I was able to get it in pretty easily. The other issue that I had was the fact that there's a little bit of play front to back of where the cable can go in so it doesn't have a perfect guide to where, even if the cable is oriented, just push and it goes right in. There's a little bit of play front to back, which meant I had to move the cable around just right and keep pushing to where it finally settled in there.

Again, this is a minor annoyance. It's one of those things that, if I owned this monitor and I shot with it day in and day out, I would get used to it and it wouldn't be a problem, I wouldn't even think about it.

But for a first-time user and having it on and off of a setup over and over again, I found that it was getting a little on my nerves because I kept having to push the cable in and out. Finally, what I ended up doing was just leaving one end of the cable in and just unplugging it from the other end, and wrapping it and keeping it with the monitor that way. Because the other end of the cable is very easy to get in and out (I had a regular full-size HDMI used with an adapter because the camera I tested it on is SDI out only). So I was able to easily work around that.

Overall, I had no other complaints about this monitor. The way it performed, the image quality, the resolution, and the brightness proved a solid fit for my project, which consisted of two weeks on a very intense shoot at lots of locations inside and outside, with natural lighting or artificial lighting. Anything that I needed it for, the monitor did exactly what I needed. So that's a few thoughts on the SmallHD Focus OLED monitor, which is brand new from SmallHD. It's available now starting at $699.

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