17 Jan 2017

This might be the tipping point for 8K

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Dell UltraSharp 32 8K Monitor (UP3218K) will ship in March (US) for $4995. Dell UltraSharp 32 8K Monitor (UP3218K) will ship in March (US) for $4995. Dell

A recent addition to the Dell monitor line-up points to the arrival of affordable 8K in the near future.

I'm always reluctant to declare that year X is the year of Y. For example: "1997 is the year of virtual reality." That didn't go too well, did it. Neither did "2011 is the year of 3D TV" come to think of it...

I prefer to think more in terms of tipping points: the moment when a new technology seems more likely than not to become widely adopted. And I think we may just have reached that with the announcement from Dell at CES 2017 that it is about to ship an 8K computer monitor.

Just in case you're not up with the numbers: an 8K monitor has sixteen times the pixels of a full HD screen. Most screens being shipped today are still either HD or less. An 8K monitor may seem like ludicrous overkill, but it only has four times the linear resolution of Full HD.

Reasons to take note

This announcement is important for a number of reasons. First, it's only about four years since we saw 4K computer monitors. It's only about six years since any type of monitor greater than HD has been available (starting, I think, with Apple's 27" iMacs). So in the space of six years, maximum screen resolutions have increased by a factor of sixteen.

Unbelievably, we now also have smartphones with 4K screens. I still find that hard to take in.

So while everyone still seems to focus on processor clock speeds as almost the sole measuring stick for technological progress, the reality is that other disciplines are moving forward faster than ever.

Now, it seems, we'll have an end-to-end signal path for 8K that's affordable if you're running almost any sort of business.

And don't forget that an 8K monitor is the perfect resolution for still photographers. Not everyone shoots 32 megapixel images, but that doesn't really matter. What does matter is that you'll be able to see your shots in a one-to-one pixel ratio and that's what's not been possible before.

Finally, this won't, of course, be the last affordable 8K monitor. Over the next three years, we will probably see dozens. But kudos to Dell for being the first. Next, I'd like to see bigger versions, curved, if possible, because you simply can't use an extremely high resolution monitor if it's too big, simply because you'll need to refocus every time you look at another part of the screen.


David Shapton

David is the Editor In Chief of RedShark Publications. He's been a professional columnist and author since 1998, when he started writing for the European Music Technology magazine Sound on Sound. David has worked with professional digital audio and video for the last 25 years.

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