Variations of the VOY Desktop Monitor
by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider
For starters, there is no consistent name for the device under investigation, the desktop monitors of the 24th century which look like present-day laptop computers. Regardless of the nature of the device which, by a 21st century definition, could be either a fully-fledged computer or just a terminal/viewer with a control interface, different designations show up in dialogues, like "monitor" in TNG: "Ensign Ro" or "terminal" in TNG: "Unification I". The screenplays refer to it as a "computer", "computer terminal", "desktop terminal", "desktop monitor", "desktop computer" or "desktop viewer". At Memory Alpha an agreement has been achieved to call it "desktop monitor", and we will follow this suggestion in our article.
An important point of interest is that each of the three basic models which existed over the years can be attributed to a specific series:
The TNG model served as a Federation monitor just in TNG. For ten years it spawned countless alien variants, in TNG as well as in other Star Trek series.
The second one is the DS9 model which was modified to alien monitors likewise of which some appeared in Star Trek Voyager too.
Finally, there is the Voyager monitor as the only one that could not be seen outside the Federation, not even in a heavily modified variant.
One common characteristic of all monitors is particularly noteworthy: Although they look like the display could be easily flipped down like on present-day laptops, this is never shown in any episode (except for different and more recent designs in the TNG movies). As it appears, the monitors are rigid and not exactly space-saving devices.
A number of further monitors were constructed for the three series. They sometimes appeared in more than one series, but overall less frequently than the three main models of which more than just one or two copies seemed to exist.
The following analysis is limited to the Federation desktop monitors of Star Trek Voyager, including other monitors developed for the series and a few devices from Enterprise.
The numerous variations of the this type of monitor will be scrutinized, including the frequent "upgrades" of the Federation model over the years. Furthermore we will systematically draw attention to bloopers and oddities pertaining to the look and operation of desktop monitors.
Yet another Federation monitor type was created for Star Trek Voyager. Although the TNG type was readily available after the end of the series in 1995, it was decided to develop a new model for the new series, probably also because the TNG monitors were not exactly the newest props after seven years of wear and tear. The new Voyager type was only insignificantly modified over the years. It is also interesting to note that it was never used as an alien device and with one exception, showed up exclusively in Star Trek Voyager.
Starting off with two different colors, the monitor could be seen in four color variants in later episodes. Of course, we have found several LCARS display re-uses in Voyager. This common practice is particularly noticeable on Voyager because it happens quite often that an LCARS display created for a particular episode remains in the viewer and is clearly shown several episodes later when it has no relevance to the story any longer.
It is not surprising that in the course of Voyager new alien monitors were built as well and re-used more or less frequently.
We start this article with a general description of the Voyager monitor model and the changes over the years. The next chapter will examine in detail when and where on the ship the four color variants show up. We can presuppose that all four colors were available from the beginning (in the fictional universe) and that some characters were using a differently colored model only in certain episodes. In addition, we will list several bloopers and re-used LCARS slides.
This monitor too is composed of two basic components, a screen area and a base with interface elements. The screen part has rounded corners, and there is nothing besides the screen but a small blue semicircle near its upper end. It almost looks like a small magnet of a closing mechanism or perhaps a camera or another sensor. Anyway, the blue detail will vanish later in the series. Between the display and the stand we can make out three black grooves which look like one could close the monitor. However, this will never be shown. Below these grooves we can see two more deepenings, one larger on the left side and one smaller but longer on the right.
On the rear side on the right the monitor possesses three slightly raised rectangular black plates with rounded corners. The uppermost plate is by far the biggest one. Near the lower edge of the big panel there is a white Starfleet label of the kind that we know from the DS9 monitors, just the color is different. A black stripe almost completely enframes the rear side, roughly following the outlines of the case. This line covers the screws which may be used to open the monitor and insert an LCARS slide (or exchange a light bulb). On the rear side of the base there is a silvery stripe which is affixed with two more screws. This one will be removed later in the series.
The front side of the base includes five buttons of which the foremost one usually serves as the on/off switch. On the buttons we can recognize little white labels, usually located in the lower right corner.
1.1 Seasons 1 & 2
During the first two seasons all devices still have the little blue semicircle above the display. This little detail is not visible any longer in several episodes of the third season (especially on the Doctor's device), and was completely removed everywhere some time during this season. All monitors with the semicircle that show up from then are actually stock footage of the first two seasons.
At the beginning of the second season the two lower black fields on the rear side are supplemented with small white labels on the lower left, similar to the ones on the keys on the front side.
1.2 Seasons 3 & 4
As already mentioned, the monitors are without the blue semicircle now. The silver stripe on the rear as well as the black frame (to disguise the screws) still exist though.
1.3 Seasons 5 & 6
The silver stripe is gone now, as well as the black frame on the rear panel. The seam of the lid is now clearly visible, as are the archaic looking screws. The same variant of the monitor can be seen on DS9, in "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges".
1.4 Season 7
For the seventh season the monitors were modified a bit more extensively. On the front side there is now a white label beneath the screen, much like on the rear side. On the rear side itself two silver rectangles can be found in the big black field, the right one being wider than the left one. But this modification apparently wasn't carried out on all color variants. The brown (crew quarter) variant does not have the two rectangles. More about this variant can be found further down.
Monitor at Christie' One VOY monitor was an item in Christie's big Trek auction in 2006. The catalogue says about the prop:
"A simulated desktop computer monitor, grey-green case with bottom marked Ready Room and Janeway's quarters, ready room, lighting circuit would illuminate a backlit graphic transparency to create simulated computer image on the screen [untested], included acrylic plastic insert for graphic, includes spare rechargeable battery and charger - 12 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. - used as set dressing on Captain Janeway's ready room desk in Star Trek: Voyager. This prop was featured in the captain's ready room and her quarters, and thus is the most significant of these computers."
On the monitor we can see a map of the four quadrants, with the fictitious "R'Kaal space" marked. We could see the monitor with this very slide in VOY: "Renaissance Man", briefly before the series finale. Obviously the slide was never removed after the end of the series, so the prop went into the auction in an absolutely authentic condition.
It is sometimes difficult to keep the different shades of the monitor case apart, because they appear brighter or darker on the screen depending on the illumination which, as it is obvious in a TV production, is not really predictable (even though on a starship we would expect more or less the same illumination in most rooms). This is why the list of the color variants is not entirely reliable.
At the beginning of the series only two colors seem to exist. Captain Janeway owns a bright gray monitor in her ready room, whereas the Doctor is using a light gray-blue monitor in sickbay. The Doctor will keep this one for the entire seven years until the series finale. Janeway, on the other hand, switches from a gray to a green variant after some time. It is possible that her monitor was a shade of gray already in the third season. But the change is evident in the fourth season where the color is a comparatively intensive green and will remain until the end of the series.
Although Janeway didn't like hers any longer, gray monitors will commonly remain in use. In addition, there are the brown devices which are almost exclusively seen in crew quarters. Neelix, for instance, can be seen working on a brown monitor in VOY: "Investigations". It could be a gray monitor with according dim reddish illumination though. At least it looks like it is supposed to be brown. A definitely brown variant is visible in later episodes, like in Tuvok's crew quarters in VOY: "Coda", in Kes' quarters in "Fury", as well as in the Wildmans' quarters in "Homestead".
So, as a good guideline, we can distinguish blue medical monitors, gray and green for other work monitors, and brown for private models. It is still a different question whether, in the fictional universe, there is a technical difference between the different colors.
More than one monitor was available at a time at least in blue and in green. We can see two blue monitors side by side in "Ex Post Facto", and two green ones in "The Omega Directive". There is, however, just one episode in which two monitors of different colors are shown in one shot. This is in "11:59" where Janeway, sitting on her desk, is conducting research on two monitors in parallel, a gray and her the regular green one.
This is a list of all different color types with the places where they appeared and the episode names or ranges:
Michael Jonas' quarters
Tom Paris' quarters
Harry Kim's quarters
Species 8472 station
Harry Kim's quarters
Admiral Ross' office (USS Bellerophon)
Admiral Hayes' office
"Flesh and Blood"
DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"
"Hope and Fear"
"The Voyager Conspiracy"
Sloan's quarters (USS Bellerophon)
"Once Upon a Time"
"Once Upon a Time"
DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"
While the gray and the brown monitor is being used by various people, the blue variant shows up only in sickbay or in some other relation to the Doctor, like in VOY: "Darkling". The green monitor is exclusively reserved for Captain Janeway. On every occasion that we see the device outside her ready room (like in her quarters or in the mess hall) we can only see Janeway working on it. The brown monitor, obviously meant "for private use", can be seen outside the crew quarters or an apartment just one time: in VOY: "Inside Man" in the Pathfinder lab.
2.2 Time travel mistakes
It happens quite often in flashbacks or in time travel episodes that a prop which shouldn't yet exist or should look different is shown in the past.
Regarding the Voyager monitor, there are two such cases (albeit of minor severity) in the episodes VOY: "Fury" and "Shattered". On both occasions we can see Janeway's ready room in the first or second season. Hence, they should show the gray monitor that she was exclusively using during that time, but actually we see the green monitor that Janeway has in the normal timeline in the seasons 5 to 7.
2.3 Re-used LCARS slides
The phenomenon is observable quite a few times in Voyager.
In VOY: "Ex Post Facto", "Parturition", "Persistence of Vision", "Scientific Method", "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy" and "Virtuoso" the same text can be found on the Doctors' monitor. Interestingly this graphic will later show up on Janeway's monitor in VOY: "Unimatrix Zero II" and "Drive".
In VOY: "Resistance" and "Meld" Janeway is still looking at the graphic of "Planet Hell" from "Parturition". The slide was obviously in the viewer the whole time.
The logs of the USS Excelsior from VOY: "Flashback" are apparently very popular reading. Janeway is looking at them in "The Q and the Grey", Tuvok in "Coda" and Chakotay in "Scientific Method". On the latter occasion "USS Excelsior" is clearly legible.
In VOY: "Hunters" and "Prey" the same star map shows up on the screen. At least this makes sense, as the storylines of the two episodes are closely related.
In VOY: "Dark Frontier" Janeway has a graphic of a Borg sphere on her monitor. In "Think Tank", however, it makes no sense for it to be still on the screen.
In VOY: "Equinox II" Janeway has a plasma analysis from "Dark Frontier" on her viewer.
In VOY: "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy" Janeway is studying the Federation Judicial Code. This makes absolutely sense, as she is concerned with the question whether command functions may be transferred to the Doctor. In "Virtuoso" and "Collective", on the other hand, the text is on the display without an obvious purpose.
Janeway has the Charter of the Federation on her monitor in VOY: "The Void". In "Workforce II" the slide is still in the device, as now the Doctor, who is temporarily in command, is looking at it.
In VOY: "Q2" und "Author, Author" (more precisely in the program "Photons be Free" featuring Evil Jenkins/Janeway) we can see the same data on the screen.
In the course of the series two new monitors were developed and re-used in later episodes.
3.1 VOY: In the Flesh
The origin of this monitor is curious. It is composed of parts of a Krenim game which Obrist and Tom Paris were playing in VOY: "Year of Hell II". Two of the greenish transparent pieces were used for the base of the monitor, a small monitor now serves as the keypad, while the screen is all new. The so assembled monitor makes its premiere in the simulation of Species 8472 in VOY: "In the Flesh". Hereafter the monitor appears, without any changes, in Dr. Zimmerman's office on Jupiter Station in VOY: "Life Line". Even the Species 8472 symbols are still visible on the interface.
Finally the monitor shows up on the Nightingale in the episode of the same name, now with a golden frame around the screen. So it is a Kraylor device here, only still with the Species 8472 labels.
3.2 VOY: Endgame
One more futuristic monitor can be seen in the future timeline in VOY: "Endgame". We can see the monitor with its transparent screen in Admiral Janeway's office. Later the device reappears as in Col. Grat's office in ENT: "Detained", here as a Tandaran monitor. It was modified with new symbols on the transparent screen.
Finally a few short notices about the monitors in Enterprise. With few exceptions only real flatscreens are in use, as opposed to the non-functioning props of the earlier series. There are two noticeable re-uses of such flatscreens.
4.1 Malurian & Earth
The brown monitors in ENT: "Civilization" (Malurian) and ENT: "Fortunate Son" (Earth) are identical. The only difference is that a few 22nd century style buttons can be found on the Terran interface.
4.2 Valakian & Kantare
The same monitor with its unusually shaped frame can be seen on Valakis in the hospital in ENT: "Dear Doctor" and on the Kantare "ghost ship" in ENT: "Oasis".
Variations of the TOS Desktop Monitor - investigation of its evolution and all variants, including TOS-like monitors in ENT
Variations of the TNG Desktop Monitor - investigation of its evolution and all variants, including the TNG movie monitors
Variations of the DS9 Desktop Monitor - investigation of its evolution and all variants, including other monitors of the series
Re-Used Props - Mobile Computers - desktop computers, handheld computers