An open frame monitor is a video display that comes without any kind of casing. These are designed for industrial, commercial, and gaming applications.
These monitors come without cases because they are designed to be used in applications where the screen goes into a larger unit that already has some kind of bezel (or other framing to make the monitor look good from the front).
You would use an open frame monitor in such things as an ATM machine, a video poker machine, a public kiosk, an arcade game, and any other number of commercial applications. Besides the lack of casing an open frame monitor also differs in a few other ways. The first is quality, open frame monitors are designed for years of continual use (I have one that is almost 23 years old and has been used almost non-stop that entire time). The second difference is in the controls, they will almost always be located in the back of the monitor (while standard monitors usually have their controls in front). The final difference is in cost, an open frame monitor will generally be more expensive that a standard monitor of the same type.
The most common type of open frame monitor is the standard resolution arcade monitor. These are used in all sorts of applications (not just arcade games), and have a refresh rate similar to that of an NTSC television (but are an RGB monitor as far as connections go). There are many variations on the standard resolution arcade monitor (such as medium res, Nintendo compatible, touch screen, black and white, etc), but all of them function in much the same way, and use a low refresh rate. These screens are common from as small as 9" to as large as 33".
The VGA open frame monitor is also fairly common. These have a 15 pin D-sub connector (just like a computer), and will hook right up to any equipment capable of putting out a VGA signal. The vast majority of these are only capable of 640x480 resolution (although some newer models can do 800x600, and a few rare birds can go even higher). These are not simply caseless computer monitors, as they display a picture much like that of a television or standard arcade monitor, not the crystal clear, ultra sharp picture that comes out of a normal computer monitor. These monitors are commonly available from 13" up to 41" in size (and are very expensive).
Vector (or X-Y monitors) are very uncommon today, but years ago they were used frequently in arcade games (and in some other industrial and computer applications). They are a bit of a bastard child between a television, and a standard resolution monitor. They display images only as lines (they can actually draw straight lines at any angle, with no scan lines).
Open frame television monitors are uncommon, but do exist. they are no different from a standard TV (except for the lack of casing, and controls in the rear).
Happcontrols.com sells a wide range of open frame monitors (at least of the arcade and VGA variety).
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