OPINION: We’ll all have a 4K device soon, but it may not be a TV

Well this isn’t too much of a stretch, really. While the world has been waiting for 4K live linear TV to arrive (and honestly most people don’t care) the 4K revolution already started and is pretty much already finished.

I’m slowly coming around to the idea that 4K TV is going to happen. I mean, really 4K TVs are getting cheaper by the day, even the ones that support the new Ultra HD Premium standard. I’ve said it too many times to count that there just isn’t going to be a lot of high quality content, possibly ever. But 4K technology has been with us for years, just not in the living room.

Apple has been using 2560×1440 resolutions on iMacs and now offers one with 5120×2880 resolution, which is even higher than the nominal 3840×2160 resolution of a 4K TV. 4K monitors are easy to find and they’re surprisingly cheap, too. See folks, that’s where 4K is going to make a difference.

Dual and even quad monitors are all the rage today largely because they’re cheap ways to get a lot of screen real estate. There was a time I was all over this trend but folks, there’s nothing like a large single monitor. It just makes everything so much easier. But above 24″, HD resolution begins to look a little weak. It’s just not up to the task. If you’re going to consider a 27″, 32″ or even larger monitor, you need to look at 4K. Seriously.

The key here is that these monitors are operating using a technique commonly known as “HiDPI.” This is a generic term for what Apple calls “Retina Display” where 4 pixels do the job that 1 used to do. See, if you just had a 4K monitor without HiDPI, you’d have a lot more resolution but everything would look tiny. The dots on the monitor would be so small that it would be pretty hard to get anything done (unless we’re talking about a 60″ monitor which… most of us are not lucky enough to talk about.) HiDPI monitors use the extra dots to add smoothness and clarity while keeping everything the same size that it would be on a regular monitor. Here’s an example of how HiDPI works on an iMac:

See how the image is the same size but is just crisper? That’s what I’m talking about. And honestly, it’s what I suspect you’ll be talking about fairly soon. If you haven’t started lobbying for a single 27″ 4K monitor for your desk at work instead of dual 19″ ones, start now. It’s going to take a little while for people to come around to my way of thinking but I suspect that once it catches on, it will be as common to see a 4K monitor as it is to see dual monitors today.

Bookmark this article… let’s see what the world looks like in a year or 18 months. Betcha you’ll be reading it on a 4K monitor.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.