The modern IT market is characterized by constant improvement of production technologies of various types of devices. Among the most dynamically developing segments is the production of computer monitors. As soon as only Full HD displays managed to form a trend, they were replaced by the newest monitors operating under the 4K standard, or Ultra HD. Devices, corresponding to it by technological parameters, are produced by the world's leading brands. What is the specificity of 4K-monitors? What parameters can be considered key when choosing a device in the spectrum of offers that are present on the market?
What is a 4K monitor?
4K-monitor - a device that has a screen resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. There are other common designations for such devices. For example, it could be Ultra HD, UHD or 2160p. That is, monitors 4K, Ultra HD - are synonyms. In this ratio, the aspect ratio of the screen in the 16: 9 format is assumed. But 4K-monitor can be executed in other standards, for example, 21: 9 or 4: 3. There is also a screen ratio in the proportion 1: 1, that is, it turns out that the height and width of the display are the same. Another common name for the technology in question is the "ultra-high definition format."
The standard Ultra HD, surprisingly, is not the most revolutionary. An interesting fact is that the first monitors, which were close to 4K-displays by resolution, appeared in the early 2000s. One of the world's leading IT developers in the segment of video devices, the Japanese NHK corporation, in 2003 showed the public the prototype of the TV UHD TV. In 2012, the corresponding standard for ultra-high definition television was approved. Soon manufacturers of computer monitors began to adapt to it.
It should be noted that the previous UHD standard - Full HD, corresponding to the resolution of 1920 x 1080 points, can not be considered obsolete. Until now, many manufacturers of modern multimedia content are guided precisely by it. This resolution corresponds to a full-length film in the amount of several tens of gigabytes - the technical capabilities of many modern users sometimes do not allow viewing even this type of content. However, 4K-displays, which involve multimedia broadcasting in even more voluminous figures, are gradually gaining popularity. What is the practical need for the newest displays? In this connection, the user may need to overpay (in most cases significantly) for an Ultra HD monitor if he already has a perfectly working Full HD?
It is difficult to answer this question objectively. A user who uses a PC to solve everyday tasks can really not have the need for a newer display. The real need for such devices can arise in people who are professionally involved in the processing of multimedia, the creation of computer games. But once trying to sit behind an Ultra HD monitor, the user will almost immediately feel how much more clearly and realistically the picture looks on it compared to what is displayed on the displays of previous generations. And in this sense it will not be easy for him to return to work for a PC with a less advanced monitor.
It can be noted that the technological capabilities of many modern video cameras make it possible to shoot commercials, the full reproduction of which requires monitors not even 4K, but 8K, working at a resolution of 7680 x 4320 pixels. It is possible that such devices will eventually replace 4K-type displays that are gaining popularity.
Monitors in 4K format are represented in the global IT market in a fairly wide range of varieties. Consider some popular devices. We do not set a task to review the best 4K-monitors, but in our collection there will be really high-quality and market-demanded devices from the world's most famous manufacturers.
Monitor from Dell
Dell is one of the leading brands in the IT market. As for the market of 4K-displays, the American corporation developed a device with the index P2815Q. Let's study its main characteristics.
The type of the display panel set in the display is TN. In the device there is a highlight of type W-LED. The diagonal of the 4K-monitor Dell P2815Q is 28 inches. The device plays a picture in 16: 9 format. The brightness of the device is 300 cd / sq. M. Among the communication slots - audio input, as well as several USB 3.0 ports. What is particularly good about a Dell monitor? 4K-standard, implemented in it, is accompanied by high quality of color reproduction. According to a number of IT experts, this device is among the best solutions for such a criterion as the homogeneity of light.
Another significant advantage of the device is a democratic price ($ 500). Many competitive devices cost more. However, among the technological characteristics is not the most modern standard of the matrix type TN. In many ways, it is considered obsolete. Many of the leading developers are trying to equip devaysy displays with an array of IPS or even IGZO. However, the TN standard can be considered quite functional and in demand even at such an innovative market segment as the release of 4K-monitors. Dell is also not the only manufacturer of displays of the appropriate type that equips the devices with a TN-matrix. Considering the solutions further, we will see this.
4K-device from NEC
Another well-known IT-brand, company NEC, also released an excellent 4K-monitor. Its diagonal is 23.8 inches, smaller than the device from Dell. Characterized by excellent indicators of color accuracy. The density of pixels on the device from NEC is 185 ppi. EA244UHD - under this index a monitor is produced, equipped with modern GB-R illumination, which is capable of providing a sufficiently wide range of color coverage. Also, this type of illumination is superior to LED analogs by the criterion such as the accuracy of color management. The NEC 4K-monitor produced by the company has a decent brightness index of 350 cd / sq. M. The device is also equipped with an automatic light sensor that adjusts the brightness.
Among the main technological features of the display is a modern matrix type AH-IPS. That is, NEC has decided to equip its device with a more modern component than the one that is present in the monitor from Dell. Matrix AH-IPS works on 30 bits and is able to display more than 1 billion color shades. Characterizes the screen produced by NEC, the minimum response time (6 ms) and excellent contrast ratio (1000: 1). The device costs significantly more than a monitor from Dell, - $ 1,350.
Does Apple produce 4K displays?
It is interesting that one of the world's largest IT brands, Apple, has not yet introduced the general public to the 4K-monitor of its own production. However, technologically an American firm, most likely, can produce such devices. To draw such a conclusion allows the fact that on some of the monoblock computers from Apple there is a display, whose resolution and completely exceeds the performance of 4K-monitors. The level of technology used by the American company probably allows it to produce devices that can even outperform some of the competitive solutions in this market segment. But while 4K-monitors from Apple in free sale is not observed.
Another noteworthy fact: in the official online store of the brand is sold 4K-monitor from the company Sharp. How can American and Japanese brands be affiliated in this market segment? Everything is logical: Sharp is one of the leading contractors for the production of displays for Apple. For the production of screens in the framework of cooperation between the two brands, a separate plant in Japan was even built.
Its own 4K-monitor Apple does not release, but if we talk about models that can be direct competitors to solutions from the brands discussed in the article, then we see that Americans at least promote the market products from Sharp. And therefore it will be useful to consider the main advantages of displays produced by the Japanese corporation.
Monitor Sharp PN-K321, attributed to the 4K-type, has a diagonal of 32 inches. Its cost is much higher than that of solutions from Dell and NEC, - about 3.5 thousand dollars. The displays use modern technology IGZO, involving the use of transistors containing indium oxide, as well as gallium and zinc. The advantages of this technology will be discussed in more detail later. Monitors from Sharp are characterized by low power consumption, high image quality at any viewing angles, excellent color reproduction. In the display from Sharp there are quite powerful 2-watt speakers, as well as a slot for connecting additional audio devices. The device has communication interfaces such as DisplayPort, as well as HDMI. The brightness indicator for the monitor from Sharp is 350 cd / sq. M.
It can be noted that the monitor is optimal for Mac Pro computers manufactured by Apple.
Display from LG
LG is also keeping pace with other major brands in the segment of modern 4K monitors. So, the Koreans brought to the market a model with the index 31MU97. Released LG monitor 4K has a diagonal of 31 inches. The display is constructed on the basis of an IPS-type matrix.
One of the features of the monitor from LG - its screen area can be divided into two parts that function independently. For each of them, you can define color settings. The communication interfaces that are equipped with the display are HDMI, DisplayPort (including the Mini version), three USB 3.0 ports, and a slot for connecting audio devices. The price is quite average for the market - 1400 dollars.
4K-display from Samsung
Another Korean brand, Samsung, also launched its own product in the segment of 4K-Dispens. Let's consider its features. As with the Dell device, the 4K-monitor Samsung U28D590D is equipped with a TN-matrix, which largely predetermines the economy of the device. Its price is comparable to an American device.
Even the diagonal of the monitor from the Korean brand is the same as on the monitor from Dell, 28 inches. Aspect ratio is executed in a similar format - 16: 9. The brightness indicator, which Samsung's 4K monitor has, is 370 cd / sq. M. The contrast is rather high - 1000: 1. The interfaces that are equipped with the display are HDMI, as well as DisplayPort. It is possible to connect external audio devices through the corresponding slot. Built-in speakers 4K-monitor Samsung is not equipped.
Monitor from Asus
The brand Asus also pleases the enthusiasts of modern technological displays. The company has released a device with the index PQ321QE, which belongs to the category of 4K-monitors. The diagonal that the Asus 4K monitor has is 31.5 inches. The screen matrix is made with the use of modern technology IGZO, as in the displays from Sharp.
The monitor from Asus has a PPI of 139.8. The device is equipped with a modern backlight type W-LED. The maximum brightness of the monitor is 350 cd / sq. M. The contrast is 800: 1. The screen can display 1.07 billion color shades. The monitor has built-in speakers.
It can be noted that Asus, according to information from a number of sources, was the first in the world to launch computer monitors in the 4K standard for the consumer market. And therefore it will be useful to pay attention to some remarkable technical characteristics of the device in more detail - in many ways they have become reference points for competing brands.
Display brightness 4K: optimal
The screen brightness of the monitor from Asus is 350 cd / sq. M. In many other devices mentioned above, it is comparable or similar. Is this brightness sufficient in terms of the needs of modern users? In the environment of IT experts, it is common to estimate that this indicator is relatively modest. But it is enough to perform everyday tasks typical for a typical PC owner, which are associated with working with text editors, simple graphical programs, watching movies and photos.
The display from Asus has a contrast ratio of 800: 1. How does it relate to the corresponding characteristic of competing models? Many brands that produce monitors 4K (Ultra HD), provide on their devices a figure that is significantly higher, for example, 1000: 1. But those figures, which are claimed by Asus, suggest that the monitor will be able to provide a sufficiently high-quality picture. And so we fix that the contrast ratio of 800: 1, as on the monitor from the Taiwanese brand, is perfectly optimal.
The display from Asus has a response rate of 8 ms. Is it possible to consider it typical? The question is ambiguous. The fact is that on many displays from competing manufacturers, the indicator is 5 ms. However, in practice, the difference will be almost invisible to the average user. Therefore, we, fixing the fact that the corresponding characteristic of the monitor from Asus is more modest than the one that is present on some competing devices, we note that this indicator is quite optimal.
Many UHD 4K monitors, including a sample from Asus, are equipped with a screen matrix that is based on IGZO technology. Does this give an obvious advantage to the devices before the competitors? To answer this question, let's consider the specifics of this technology in more detail.
IGZO is the abbreviation Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide. That is, we are talking about the oxide of metals: indium, and also zinc and gallium. This type of material belongs to the category of semiconductor. It is intended to be an alternative to amorphous silicon in the production of liquid crystal displays. Among its main features is the possibility of forming transistors with smaller dimensions. As a result, the elements that make up the image can also be reduced. The speed of the device as a whole increases, the pixel density index becomes higher, and the energy consumption level decreases.
Above we noted that IGZO technology in the manufacture of displays is also used by Sharp - in fact, it developed it. It turns out that the corresponding development is quite in demand on the IT market. Perhaps, the 4K-based monitors produced on the basis of IPS technology will be gradually supplemented with devices based on the latest concepts of this type.
How to choose a monitor?
What conclusions can we draw by considering some of the characteristics of the monitor from Asus, one of the first solutions in the market of computer 4K-displays, and comparing them with the indicators of competitive solutions? Is it possible to determine the criteria that will allow us to select the best 4K monitor based on the facts revealed by us?
The question is ambiguous. If only because the pace of development of the modern IT market is such that some technologies are sometimes very quickly replaced by others. The same IPS-technology used in the production of displays, seems to be regarded as one of the most advanced, but as we found out, it had a competitor in the form of IGZO, which is actively drawn to the world's leading brands.
Let's try to limit ourselves to the theses, suggesting the allocation of typical characteristics that modern 4K-monitors have. The review is not conducted at all to identify objectively the best devices, but rather to highlight the main criteria that can be useful for a potential display consumer.
There is not much point in taking the display diagonal into consideration - this factor is in most cases subjective. Someone will be more comfortable working behind the monitor in 28 inches, another user will not be sufficient indicator of 32 inches. Other things being equal, it's not at all necessary that a person would prefer to choose a display with a slightly larger diagonal.
With respect to such characteristics as contrast, we can say that 800: 1 is quite sufficient, as on the monitor from Asus. However, all things being equal, we have the right to prefer a display with higher figures. This will almost certainly be important if it is intended to use the monitor by professional designers, when editing films, when creating computer games.
The brightness of the display is 350 cd / sq. M is quite an indicator. If the above is good, but it is not worthwhile, it is probably worth overpaying for the device that stated the numbers that exceed the value we noted.
As for the response, it all depends on the purpose of using the monitor. For professional designers, it is probably desirable to have a device with the lowest response rate. But if the user performs ordinary tasks on the PC, it is possible to do with the device, the response on which is about 8 ns.
For fans of the latest trends in the IT industry, it is likely to be significant that their display is equipped with an advanced matrix based on IGZO technology. But it should be noted that the IPS-standard is not outdated. Moreover, the Dell 4K monitor is equipped with a TN-based matrix, which in some respects is inferior to IPS. But the quality of the image remains perfectly in line with the needs of the modern user. Many buyers choose an inexpensive monitor from Dell, rightly believing that they have no reason to overpay for a more efficient display matrix.
So, after analyzing some of the aspects that characterize 4K-displays, we will try to compile a set of criteria that can contribute to the selection of a device optimized for various user tasks. If the owner of the PC performs typical tasks: working with texts, watching videos and pictures, then the monitor with relatively modest characteristics will suffice: the contrast is of the order of 800: 1, the brightness is around 350 cd / sq. M, a response of 8 ns, an IPS-type matrix or even TN, which can predetermine significant savings.
If a person is a professional in the field of design, he engages in computer graphics, creates games, mounts films and videos, then it probably makes sense to pay attention to displays with more advanced characteristics: a contrast ratio of 1000: 1, brightness above 350 cd / sq. . M, a response of the order of 5 nm, and also an IGZO type matrix. In this case, the price of the device is likely to be much higher, but it is assumed that the investments will pay off.
Regarding communication standards, most brands are trying to ensure that their devices comply with the standards actually adopted in the IT industry. That is, monitors will almost always be equipped with HDMI-connectors, DisplayPort interfaces so that they can be guaranteed to be connected to a PC. The selection of the display by such a criterion, as equipped with interfaces, is rarely expedient.