For LCD display devices, brightness is a key performance measure. Brightness is measured in candela per square meter (CD/m2) or nit.Just as the power of a car engine is expressed in horsepower, so is nitre. It represents the brightness of a monitor as many candles. The amount of light in a 300 nit desktop monitor is equivalent to 300 candles in a square meter of space. The 1,500 nit outdoor display is the equivalent of 1,500 candles.


In addition, nite is not the same thing as ANSI lumen (a common specification in front projection solutions). Lumens represent the amount of light that a candle reflects in square meters at a constant distance. You can measure reflected light in lumens and direct light in nitts. This is why projectors usually use lumens for brightness, while monitors (including backprojection) use nites. Sometimes projection installations are calculated on a foot-lamberts (FL) basis, equivalent to 1 lumen per square meter, in order to produce higher perceived brightness screen reflections in brighter rooms. One nit equals about 0.292FL.


Back on the monitor, in order to measure the brightness of the monitor, you need to display some images on the screen. Normally, when the screen displays an all-white picture, the brightness is measured from side to side and from top to bottom. For a display that requires a backlight, such as a liquid crystal display, a full white measurement can determine the maximum light output that the display can achieve. While users are unlikely to display an all-white image on the screen, this number represents the maximum brightness the display can achieve.


For self-illuminated displays, such as plasma, OLED or LED screens, the calculation of brightness is more difficult. Because each pixel is directly addressed (and turned on or off based on what points to it), the brightness of each pixel will vary as the power of the driving pixel is shared across all pixels. Displaying an all-white picture, for example, measures less brightness than a small white square in the middle of the screen.These two cases represent two common indicators, one is standard luminance measurement (i.e., typical value), the other is peak luminance measurement (i.e., peak value).


Now it’s clear that if someone asks how bright the display is, it’s hard to answer them directly. It depends on the measurement and the display technology used, as well as what is displayed on the screen during the measurement.


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