4K for $649
The growth and adoption of 4K resolution panels (most commonly 3840x2160) has really been the biggest story of the past year or so in the world of PC gaming. After a couple of TVs that ran at 3840x2160 over HDMI at 30 Hz found there way into our offices, the first real 60 Hz 4K monitor that I got some hands on time with was the ASUS PQ321Q. This monitor was definitely targeted at the profressional market with its IGZO display (near IPS quality) and somewhat high price tag of $3500. It has since dropped to $2400 or so but it remains somewhat complicated by the use of MST technology (multi-stream transport) that was required to hit 60 Hz.
Earlier this month I took a look at the Samsung U28D590D 28-in 4K panel that was capable of 60 Hz refresh rates for just $699. This display used a single-stream transport DisplayPort connection to keep setup simple but used a TN panel rather than IPS/IGZO. This meant viewing angles were not as strong (though better than most TN screens you have seen before) but...that price!
Today we have our second low cost, SST 4K monitor to evaluate, the ASUS PB287Q. We saw it at CES back in January and with a launch date of June 10th and an MSRP $649, ASUS is setting itself up for an impressive release.
So what can you expect if you purchase the ASUS PB287Q 4K monitor? In short you get an adequate screen that won't live up to IPS standards but is just good enough for the PC gamer and productivity user in all of us. You'll also get a form factor that well exceeds that of the Samsung U28D590D with fully moveable stand and VESA mounting. And a price of $649 for a 3840x2160 screen doesn't hurt either.
Read on the next pages for more details on the user experience in Windows 8.1 as well as while gaming to see if this is the right monitor for you to buy this summer!
Subject: Displays | May 22, 2014 - 11:30 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: nvidia, monitor, g-sync, acer, 4k
We've been talking about the benefits 4K for a while, most recently with the Samsung U28D590D, which added single-stream 60Hz support to the mix, but there have certainly been some drawbacks with 4K monitors to date. Between usually low refresh rates and the general problem of getting smooth images on the screen (not to mention the high price of entry into 4K) there have been some legitimate questions about when to upgrade. Well, an interesting new product announcement from a surprising source might change things.
With a logo like that, who needs product photos?
Today, Acer is announcing an interesting alternative: the world’s first 4K monitor with integrated NVIDIA G-SYNC technology.
The XB280HK will be a 28" display, and (provided you have an NVIDIA graphics card and were looking to make the move to 4K) the benefits of G-SYNC - which include minimizing stutter and eliminating tearing - seem ideal for extremely high-res gaming.
We’ll be eagerly awaiting a look at the performance of this new monitor. (Or even a look at it, since Acer did not release a product photo!)
The details are scarce, but Acer says this will be a part of their “XB0” series of gaming monitors. Here are some specs for this 28” 3840x2160 display, which features three proprietary technologies from Acer:
- “Flicker-less” which Acer says is implemented at the power supply level to reduce screen flicker
- “Low-dimming” which sounds like an ambient light sensor to dim the monitor in low light
- “ComfyView” non-glare screen
Of interest, the Acer XB280HK is likely using a TN panel given the claimed "170/170 degree" viewing angle.
The hardware needed for good 4K frame rates are definitely up there, and with G-SYNC onboard the XB280HK will probably not be in the low-end of the 4K price range, but we shall see!
Subject: General Tech, Displays | May 18, 2014 - 03:19 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: oculus vr, Oculus, facebook, google glass
Who would have thought that John Carmack would have opened the flood gates of talent to Facebook. Apparently, not only was he the first in a long list of people to join Oculus, a large chunk of his coworkers at id Software followed him over (if a Glassdoor review is to be trusted) in Februrary. Their latest grab is Adrian Wong, former senior hardware engineer for Google's Glass Explorer program.
Didn't see that one coming...
Clearly, something is happening at Oculus VR. This acquisition by Facebook is giving them a warchest to grab as much top talent as possible. Ironically, without Oculus, I doubt that most of these hires, if any, would happen. Without knowing the internal structure of Facebook and Oculus, it is hard to predict how much benefit the parent company can gather, but the acquisition could be paying for itself in raw talent.
The Oculus Rift DK2, announced at GDC, is currently a $350.00 pre-order and expected to ship in August.
Subject: General Tech, Displays | May 12, 2014 - 03:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: g-sync, freesync, displayport 1.2a, adaptive sync
AMD might have originally thought that dynamic refresh rates were not worth adding to their machines but they did develop FreeSync quite a while ago and now that G-Sync is available they've changed their minds. Even better for the consumer is the way that they went about releasing it; not as proprietary hardware which is only compatible with certain monitors but as an update to the DisplayPort standard which does not require any extra hardware. We do still have a while to wait before these monitors hit the shelves, the display scaler and control chips manufactures will have to incorporate the new standard into their designs but once they do they should be functional on both NVIDIA and AMD as long as you are connecting with DisplayPort. Read more about the process on The Tech Report.
Also, you can read the official VESA press release.
"PC gaming animation may soon become more fluid than ever, thanks to a development just announced by the folks at the VESA display standards organization. VESA has officially added a feature called Adaptive Sync to the DisplayPort 1.2a specification, which means that a G-Sync-style adaptive refresh mechanism could be built into nearly every new desktop monitor in the coming months and years."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 154: AMD's K12, OCZ's future and the Z97 invasion begins
- Windows 8.1 Update Deadline Pushed Back @ [H]ard|OCP
- Choose Your Favorite Open Source SBC, Enter to Win Prizes @ Linux.com
- Nvidia's 64-bit Tegra K1 could end up in microservers @ The Inquirer
- ARM lays the foundation for a data center invasion @ The Tech Report
- Don't fret over SOHO routers and Heartbleed. But yeah, there's LOADS to fear on home kit @ The Register
- HyperX Event at 2BY2 @ Madshrimps
- Asus PCE-AC68 802.11ac Dual-Band PCI Express Wireless Adaptor @ eTeknix
3840x2160 for Cheap!!
It has been just over a year ago when we first got our hands on a 4K display. At the time, we were using a 50-in Seiki 3840x2160 HDTV that ran at a 30 Hz refresh rate and was disappointing in terms of its gaming experience, but impressive in image quality and price ($1500 at the time). Of course, we had to benchmark graphics cards at 4K resolutions and the results proved what we expected - you are going to need some impressive hardware to run at 4K with acceptable frame rates.
Since that story was published, we saw progress in the world of 4K displays with the ASUS PQ321Q, a 4K monitor (not a TV) that was built to handle 60 Hz refresh rates. The problem, of course, was the requirement for a multi-stream connection that essentially pushes two distinct streams over a single DisplayPort cable to the monitor, each at 1920x2160. While in theory that wasn't a problem, we saw a lot configuration and installation headaches as we worked through the growing pains of drivers and firmware. Also, it was priced at $3200 when we first reviewed it, though that number has fallen to $2400 recently.
Today we are looking at the Samsung U28D590D, the first 4K panel we have seen that supports a 60 Hz refresh rate with a single stream (single tile) implementation. That means that not only do you get the better experiences associated with a 60 Hz refresh rate over a 30 Hz, you also gain a much more simple and compatible installation and setup. No tricky driver issues to be found here! If you have a DisplayPort 1.2-capable graphics card, it's just plug and play.
The Samsung U28D590D uses a 28-in TN panel, which is obviously of a lower quality in terms of colors and viewing angles than the IGZO screen used on the ASUS PQ321Q, but it's not as bad as you might expect based on previous TN panel implementations. We'll talk a bit more about that below. The best part of course is the price - you can find the Samsung 4K panel for as low as $690!
Subject: Displays | April 11, 2014 - 05:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: touch screen, philips, 231C5 SmoothTouch
If you are going to use Windows 8 as your OS you will find it is a better overall experience to use if you have a touchscreen. With mobile devices that is not a problem but for the most part desktop systems do not tend to sport a touchscreen. Enter the Philips 231C5 SmoothTouch a 23" IPS 1080p display with a built in webcam and microphone as well as multi-touch capability of course. The array of inputs are sufficient, two HDMI ports – one with MHL capabilities, DisplayPort, VGA, two USB 3.0 ports and stereo audio. Before you dismiss this display completely you should check out eTechnix full review.
"When Microsoft announced the imminent launch of Windows 8, one of the revolutionary aspects of the new operating system was its more streamlined integration into touch screen devices. Since that time we have seen touch screen capable notebooks and Ultrabooks swarm the market and the era of the touch screen computer has changed the way that many of us have interacted with our systems."
Here are some more Display articles from around the web:
- NEC MultiSync PA272W 27" Professional Monitor Review @ Hardware Canucks
- ASUS MX279H 27-inch LED-Lit AH IPS Monitor @ Phoronix
- Choosing the Right Projector for your Needs @ TechwareLabs
- Nvidia G-Sync: My Impression @ Kitguru
- Samsung PN64F8500 64 Inch Plasma Smart TV Review @ Tweaknews
Subject: General Tech, Displays | April 6, 2014 - 02:41 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: vesa, freesync, DisplayPort, amd
According to French website, hardware.fr, the VESA standards body has accepted AMD's proposal for FreeSync into an extension of the DisplayPort 1.2a standard. FreeSync is the standards-based answer to NVIDIA's G-Sync, a process for allowing the monitor to time itself according to its driving GPU. At CES 2014, AMD claimed that the technology was already in development to be used for mobile devices to save power (less frequent monitor refreshes).
By presenting image to the user only when the work is complete, you can avoid "tearing" and latency. The tearing will be eliminated because the graphics card does not change the image being drawn by the monitor as it is trying to display it. The latency is eliminated because it does not need to wait until the monitor is ready (up to one-over-the maximum refresh rate of the monitor). It should also save power by reducing its refresh rate on slower scenes, such as an idle desktop, but that is less of a concern when you are plugged into a wall.
What does this mean? Nothing yet, really, except that a gigantic standards body seems to approve.
Ever since CES we have been expecting an onslaught of 4K monitors to make their way to the market. Today Amazon.com listed the Samsung U28D590D for pre-order for the price of just $699. This is a 28-in display with a 3840x2160 resolution and support for 60 Hz refresh rates courtesy of the DisplayPort 1.2 connection.
That's a hell of a deal for a 4K monitor, especially one capable of 60 Hz (likely through MST)! Worth noting is that the monitor is a TN panel so picture quality won't be as good as the IPS options still selling for over $2500, like the ASUS PQ321Q we reviewed previously.
The panel has a pair of HDMI inputs but both are listed as only supporting 30 Hz 3840x2160 resolutions without any mention of using them both simultaneously.
You can find the full specifications list on Samsung's website, and we are working to get a sample in for testing in the next two weeks!
Subject: General Tech, Displays | March 28, 2014 - 04:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: VR, valve, Oculus, facebook
Today, Oculus VR issued a statement which claims that Michael Abrash has joined their ranks as Chief Scientist. Abrash was hired by Valve in 2011 where he led, and apparently came up with the idea for, their wearable computing initiatives. For a time, he and Jeri Ellsworth were conducting similar projects until she, and many others, were forced out of the company for undisclosed reasons (she was allowed to take her project with her which ultimately became CastAR). While I have yet to see an official announcement claim that Abrash has left Valve, I have serious doubts that he would be employed in both places for any reasonable period of time. With both gone, I wonder about Valve's wearable initaitive going forward.
Abrash at Steam Dev Days
This press statement comes just three days after Facebook announced "definitive" plans to acquire Oculus VR for an equivalent of $2 billion USD (it is twice the company Instragram was). Apparently, the financial stability of Facebook (... deep breath before continuing...) was the catalyst for this decision. VR research is expensive. Abrash is now comfortable working with them, gleefully expending R&D funds, advancing the project without sinking the ship.
And then there's Valve.
On last night's This Week in Computer Hardware (#260), Patrick Norton and I were discussing the Oculus VR acquisition. He claimed that he had serious doubts about whether Valve ever intended to ship a product. So far, the only product available that uses Valve's research is the Oculus Rift DK2. Honestly, while I have not really thought about it until now, it would not be surprising for Valve to contribute to the PC platform itself.
And, hey, at least someone is not afraid of Facebook's ownership.
Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | March 22, 2014 - 01:04 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: oculus rift, Oculus, gdc 14, GDC
Last month, we published a news piece stating that Oculus Rift production has been suspended as "certain components" were unavailable. At the time, the company said they are looking for alternate suppliers but do not know how long that will take. The speculation was that the company was simply readying a new version and did not want to cannibalize their sales.
This week, they announced a new version which is available for pre-order and expected to ship in July.
DK2, as it is called, integrates a pair of 960x1080 OLED displays (correction, March 22nd @ 3:15pm: It is technically a single 1080p display that is divided per eye) for higher resolution and lower persistence. Citing Valve's VR research, they claim that the low persistence will reduce motion blur as your eye blends neighboring frames together. In this design, it flickers the image for a short period before going black, and does this at a high enough rate keep your eye fed with light. The higher resolution also prevents the "screen door effect" complained about by the first release. Like their "Crystal Cove" prototype, it also uses an external camera to reduce latency in detecting your movement. All of these should combine to less motion sickness.
I would expect that VR has a long road ahead of it before it becomes a commercial product for the general population, though. There are many legitimate concerns about leaving your users trapped in a sensory deprivation apparatus when Kinect could not even go a couple of days without someone pretending to play volleyball and wrecking their TV with ceiling fan fragments. Still, this company seems to be doing it intelligently: keep afloat on developers and lead users as you work through your prototypes. It is cool, even if it will get significantly better, and people will support its research while getting the best at the time.
DK2 is available for pre-order for $350 and is expected to ship in July.