Samsung UD590

PetaPixel: The Samsung UD590 is a 28-inch Ultra HD monitor with 10-bit pixels, which means a billion colors.

Ultra HD or UHD. I prefer not to use jargons, but the display industry is using the name Ultra HD to mean 3840×2160. I prefer 4K; it is simpler and 4K means something. Yes the number of horizontal pixels don’t get to 4000, but it’s close enough for everyone to figure out what 4K means. UHD on the other hand offers no clue as to its meaning.

A non-dithering 10-bit monitor will need 10-bit sub-pixels and a look up table (LUT) that can handle all those bits. Most monitors use three sub-pixels in a 3×1 format: red, green, blue. 10 bit means two to the 10th degree and that in turn means there are 1024 variations, per sub-pixel. Since there are three sub-pixels (1024x1024x1024) we get 1.07 billion. That’s 1 billion variations, or colors.

The Samsung UD590 sports a resolution of 157 ppi. With a distance of 22 inches (56 cm) or father the pixels on the UD590 becomes retina, meaning for most of us we won’t be able to decipher individual pixels.

There are two ways you can make use of all these pixels. One way is to put up humongous spreadsheets, four 1920×1080 video streams, edit 1080p video using Final Cut Pro with two 1080p windows side by side and all of the controls on the bottom, etc. There’s a lot you can do with more than 8 million pixels. The other way to use them is to pixel double: 2×2 pixels become a single pixel. If you use the UD590 or any other 4K monitor this way the effective pixel format becomes 1920×1080 but the fonts, icons, and everything on the display becomes smooth, as smooth as the iPhone (4 and up) or the retina MacBook Pros. This is how I would use it.

The Samsung UD590 isn’t cheap, but it isn’t as expensive as I thought it’d be: US$700. You can pre-order the UD590 on Amazon.