Outdoor environments can be harsh on technology. Dust, dirt, rain, extreme temperatures – these can quickly damage delicate electronics like computer monitors. But what if you need to install a monitor outside for surveillance, digital signage, marine navigation or other applications? That’s where rugged outdoor monitors come in.
Rugged outdoor video monitors are specifically designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor installation. They are constructed to be far more durable than standard monitors, with protective enclosures, weather sealing, hardened glass screens and heavy-duty components. This makes them perfect for outdoor security camera monitoring, outdoor digital signage, marine displays and any application where a monitor needs to be used outdoors 24/7 in any conditions.
Demand for rugged outdoor monitors has exploded in recent years. The rise of smart cities, outdoor surveillance networks, digital signage and outdoor kiosks has driven rapid innovation in rugged monitor technology. More choice makes it harder to pick the perfect display for your needs. That’s why in this guide we will count down the top 5 outdoor monitors on the market right now. We’ll also provide an in-depth buying guide on how to choose the right rugged monitor for any application. Let’s dive in!
The Top 5 Rugged Outdoor Video Monitors in 2023
1. Elo Tough Series ET3202L 32″ Outdoor Touchscreen Monitor
The Elo ET3202L is a 32″ Full HD 1080p rugged touchscreen monitor designed for outdoor installation. It features a slim profile and narrow bezels for a modern aesthetic. The ET3202L is powered by Elo’s resistive TouchPro touch technology, allowing operation with gloves or finger touch.
Key specs include 1920 x 1080 resolution, 450 nits brightness, 3000:1 contrast ratio and wide 160°/170° viewing angles. The ET3202L boasts an IP65 dust and water resistant rating plus Type 6P enclosure for outdoor protection against dirt, rain and spills. VESA mounting is supported. Connectivity includes HDMI, VGA, USB and serial ports.
Pros: Very bright display, responsive gloved touch, slim and modern design. Cons: No onboard camera/mic.
Price: Around $2,500
2. Hope Industrial PI-5561H 21.5″ 1080p Rugged Outdoor Monitor
The Hope Industrial PI-5561H is a heavy duty 21.5″ Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution rugged monitor. It features a sunlight readable 1000 nit panel with 160° viewing angles. The PI-5561H has an IP66/IP67 waterproof rating and is NEMA 4X compliant for protection against dust, dirt and water.
This outdoor monitor can operate from -22° to 122°F and survives 3G vibration. Connectivity includes VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort plus USB and RS-232 control. It supports VESA 100x100mm mounting. Hope Industrial provides a 3 year warranty.
Pros: Very bright panel, rugged water/dust/shock protection. Cons: No touchscreen option.
Price Range: $700 – $900
3. ADVANTECH UNO-238W 23.8″ Outdoor Widescreen Monitor
The Advantech UNO-238W is a 23.8″ widescreen 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution rugged monitor designed for outdoor digital signage and surveillance. It features a commercial grade 2500 cd/m2 high bright panel with wide 178° viewing angles.
This IP65 waterproof outdoor display has an operating range from -30°C to 60°C. It survives 50G shocks thanks to a rugged stainless steel chassis. Connectivity includes VGA, HDMI, USB and RS-232. Flexible mounting options allow installation on walls or poles. A 3 year warranty is included.
Pros: Very high brightness rating, wide -30°C to 60°C operating range. Cons: No touchscreen option.
Price: Around $1,200
4. Dell 24″ UltraSharp Outdoor Monitor – C2422HE
The Dell C2422HE is a 24″ 1080p outdoor monitor engineered by Dell for high performance in harsh conditions. It features a durable IP65 weatherproof aluminum housing and toughened glass screen fit for outdoor placement.
This UltraSharp display boasts a bright 1000 nit IPS panel with 178°/178° viewing angles. Contrast ratio is 1000:1. Connectivity options include HDMI, DisplayPort, USB ports plus IP network manageability. VESA mounting is supported. Dell provides a 3 year advance exchange warranty.
Pros: Strong brightness, manageability features, great warranty. Cons: No touchscreen.
Price: Around $1,050
5. Blaze Video Blz-5RX1-37 Rugged 37″ Outdoor Monitor with Camera
The aptly named Blaze Video Blz-5RX1-37 is a 37″ rugged 1080p Full HD outdoor monitor with integrated PTZ camera system. The monitor features a commercial grade 2500 nit panel for excellent sunlight readability. It has an IP66 weatherproof rating and operating range of -22° to 140°F.
This Blaze monitor withstands 50G shocks and 3G vibration thanks to rugged die cast aluminum housing. The built-in 20x zoom PTZ camera provides live monitoring. Other features include HDMI/VGA inputs, RS-232 control and 100-240V power.
Pros: Very bright, integrated PTZ camera, rugged aluminum housing. Cons: No touchscreen.
Price: Around $3,200
This covers some of the best rugged outdoor monitors available right now in a range of sizes, specs and prices. But how do you choose the right one? Let’s go through the key factors to consider when buying an outdoor video monitor.
How to Choose the Right Rugged Outdoor Monitor
Picking the perfect rugged monitor involves thinking about your intended application, placement, viewing needs and budget. Here are the most important criteria to factor in:
Choosing the Right Display Size
Outdoor monitors come in a wide range of display sizes – from compact 10″ models right up to giant 70″ screens. The right size comes down to:
- Intended Viewing Distance – A larger screen is beneficial if it needs to be viewed from further away.
- Mounting Position – Smaller 10-15″ monitors are good for mounting at eye level. Larger displays can be ceiling or pole mounted.
- Portability – Bulkier monitors can be harder to mount and less portable.
- Budget – Larger panels are more expensive.
For most outdoor security or signage needs, a 19″ to 43″ display provides sufficient screen real estate without being unwieldy. But consider distance, mounting and portability needs.
Here are the key technical specifications to look for in an outdoor monitor:
- Resolution – 1920 x 1080 Full HD is the minimum resolution recommended. This provides sufficient detail for most applications. Higher 4K resolution can display more information if required.
- Brightness – Measured in nits or candelas/m2, the brighter the better for outdoor visibility. Look for at least 2,500 nits brightness for sunlight viewability.
- Contrast Ratio – Higher contrast ratios like 1,000:1 or above provide vivid, clear images.
- Viewing Angles – IPS panel monitors offer 178° viewing angles. This allows the screen to be viewed from any angle.
Ruggedization and Environmental Protection
Since outdoor monitors will face the elements, ruggedization is crucial. Key environmental protection credentials include:
- Ingress Protection – IP ratings against intrusion of dust and water. IP65 or IP66 ratings are typical. The higher the number, the better.
- Impact Resistance – Measured in IK ratings e.g. IK08. Higher is better to withstand bumps and drops.
- Vibration/Shock – Ability to survive ongoing vibrations from transportation and heavy equipment. Shock resistance against sudden impacts.
- Operating Temperature – Industrial monitors can operate from -30°C to 60°C or beyond. Wider is better.
- UV/Corrosion – UV coatings protect against sun damage. Corrosion resistant coatings guard against salt spray.
Connectivity and Control
Look for sufficient input ports, network connectivity and remote monitoring capability:
- Video Inputs – HDMI, VGA, DVI and DisplayPort allow connection to cameras and computers.
- Network – Ethernet, WiFi and 3G/4G provide networking connectivity and remote monitoring.
- Touchscreen – For interactive use, USB ports allow touch overlay integration.
- Control – RS-232, RS-485 allows remote system control.
- Audio – Speaker and mic connectivity may be needed.
- Expansion – Some monitors allow hardware add-ons via PCIe or other slots.
Additional features to look out for:
- Touchscreen – For interactive use, opt for capacitive/resistive touchscreen models.
- Gloved Operation – For industrial use, look for gloved touch support.
- Low Light Imaging – Night vision/low light CCTV camera compatibility.
- Flicker Free – Eliminates flickering for clearer video capture.
- HDR – Improves contrast and color for digital signage.
- Auto Brightness – Ambient light sensor adjusts brightness based on conditions.
- Remote Monitoring – Networking for health monitoring and remote control.
Rugged monitors need proper mounting to protect from vibration, shocks and physical damage:
- VESA Mounts – Allow attachment of arms, stands and poles using the 100/75mm VESA standard.
- Yoke Mount – A U-bracket for pole or wall mounting. Provides positioning flexibility.
- Pedestal Mount – A vertical stand for mounting on flat surfaces. Allows height adjustment.
- Rack Mount – 19″ rack mounting ears allow installation in cabinets and racks.
- Wall Mount – Bolts directly onto walls for permanent installation.
- Enclosures – Protective metal enclosures offer an extra layer of protection.
Warranty and Service
Given their premium pricing, adequate warranty and service is a must:
- Warranty Duration – At least 3 years of comprehensive parts and labor warranty. 5 years preferable for outdoor electronics.
- Local Support – Availability of in-country/region service centers and field engineers.
- Technical Support – Phone, email and online support response time guarantees. Remote diagnostic capability ideal.
- Manuals/Documentation – Complete documentation, drivers, software and manuals should be provided.
- Repair Turnaround – Quick turnaround on warranty repairs – ideally less than 2 weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here we answer some common questions on outdoor monitor selection:
Are rugged monitors expensive?
Yes, expect to pay a premium. Ruggedization, commercial-grade components, certifications and design boost costs. But total cost of ownership is lower thanks to extreme reliability and long lifespan – often 10 years or more.
Does resolution matter for outdoor monitors?
Absolutely. 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution is recommended minimum. This provides sufficient detail for most cameras and applications. Higher 4K resolution displays more information but are costlier.
How bright should an outdoor monitor be?
For sunlight viewability, a minimum of 2,500 nits (cd/m2) brightness is recommended. 3,000 nits or above is better. Contrast ratio of 1,000:1 or more also improves clarity.
What is the ideal monitor size for outdoor use?
It depends on the intended viewing distance. 10-15″ monitors are good for close-up viewing. 19″ to 43″ monitors are common for most applications. Larger screens up to 70″ can be used if viewers are further away.
Do I need special cables for outdoor monitors?
Thick, shielded cables are recommended for ruggedness. But most outdoor monitors work fine with standard HDMI, VGA and other common cables. Double check connector type and gauge size.
Can touchscreen monitors be used outdoors?
Yes, rugged touchscreen monitors rated for outdoor use are available. Capacitive touch works well with gloved hands. Optical bonding helps protect the underlying display. Avoid less durable resistive touch for outdoor applications.
What temperature range do outdoor monitors support?
Industrial monitors can operate from -30°C to 60°C or wider. Look for the minimum and maximum operating temperature range supported to ensure it meets your environment. Heaters, coolers and enclosures can extend the range.
How are outdoor monitors mounted?
VESA mounting using arms, poles or stands is typical. Yoke mounts attach to poles and walls. Pedestal stands provide movable floor mounting. Wall brackets bolt monitors directly onto walls. Suspension cables can hang monitors from ceilings.
Installing technology outdoors poses unique challenges. Dust, dirt, rain, extreme temperatures and physical hazards can destroy electronics not designed to withstand them. Rugged outdoor monitors are specifically engineered to thrive where standard displays quickly fail.
In this guide, we looked at the top 5 outdoor monitors across different sizes, specs and prices. We also covered the key factors from brightness and ruggedness to mounting and service when selecting the ideal display. Taking the time to choose the right monitor for your needs will ensure reliable outdoor performance for years to come.
Whether you need a outdoor surveillance display, marine nav system or outdoor digital signage, rugged monitors empower technology deployment in harsh environments. They unlock new potential for digital transformation across smart cities, transportation, energy, defense and other industries.
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