One of the best deals I've come across since running this blog has been the "Chisso" almost HD (1024x600) monitors, made for the inside of your car. I stumbled across them on a lark and couldn't believe that they were selling an monitor with an HDMI input for only $56. I published the news on the Facebook Group and ordered one myself. I really wanted it to be a good purchase.
I was happy to report that the monitor was actually pretty decent and had some nice features (like the ability to flip the screen, so you could mount it upside down), making it a handy little production monitor. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but who could really complain at that price point?
After my review, I was sure these were closeouts and once current stock was depleted, we would never see them again or the price would be restored to $100+. After a few months of this being true, the HDMI cheapie is back! YouTuber DataQuest Imaging left a comment on my video that they were back in stock at the same low $56 price! Your colors are limited to brushed gray and brushed silver ($58), but it's there!
After blabbing about this on the Facebook Group today, Facebooker Tanner Hoke commented that there is a similar monitor on Amazon for an almost-equally low price of $59. Probably based on similar hardware, the "Tontec" has everything the Chisso model has with a few bonuses. It has a full-size HDMI port instead of a mini, which makes more sense than the mini-HDMI on the Chisso. It also has a VGA port, so you can also connect any computer to it, if that's what you need. The only downside I see is the permanent composite breakout cable that dangles from the bottom of the screen. I'd totally open the case and remove that thing ASAP.
If you're like me and own a camera with a tiny monitor attached, having a much larger 7" external monitor is really nice for composition and focus. I used mine on my short film Invader and have since made two videos that stem directly from my experience shooting in the sun with this monitor. One is about making a DIY monitor hood and the other is a review of an articulating sun shade (the Versa-brella) that you can attach directly to your tripod.
I'm glad this monitor has returned. For Frugal Filmmakers everywhere, it's well worth the money.
UPDATE: Confirmed compatibility with this monitor
YES: Sony NEX 5n
NO: Panasonic GH2/3, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
If you have purchased this monitor, please comment about whether or not your camera works properly with it, so we can add to this list. Everyone out there will thank you!