Dell is soon to start rolling out its newest in high-fidelity, cutting-edge monitors with the Dell 32-inch UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD 8K (UP3218K) monitor. While that official name may be a mouthful, it is about as descriptive as names get. This flat-screen monitor is among the first of its kind – displaying at an 8K resolution. Dell expects the UP3218K will be available in March for a reported price of about $4,999.
Below is a breakdown of everything you need to know about this technology.
What does 8K resolution actually mean?
In the mid 2000s, consumer markets started pushing televisions and computer screens away from DVD-quality resolutions (named standard definition) and toward the new higher resolutions of 720p and 1080p (also known as high definition, HD, or Blu-ray quality). Currently there’s a similar push toward even greater visual fidelity as markets start making way for televisions and monitors that boast higher-than-HD resolutions, appropriately labeled Ultra HD.
The label of Ultra HD, or UHD, includes both 4K and 8K displays. 4K resolutions are approximately four times as dense as 1080p, with images made of over 8 million pixels. And 8K displays are four times denser still than 4K at over 32 million pixels. For comparison, the digital projection on a movie theater screen displays at 2K, an image comprised of roughly 2 million pixels. So, imagine taking an image that fits on a movie screen, quadrupling its resolution, quadrupling it again, and then squishing it to the size of your TV. This should give you some idea of how crisp the image quality of 8K can be.
How cutting edge is this, really?
An 8K monitor is so cutting-edge that there is a good chance your computer won’t be able to support it. There are three major obstacles that can prevent a PC from displaying 8K resolution. First, the file sizes are enormous. The file size of an 8K digital movie is thousands of gigabytes. Second, the GPU required to process these images necessitates the highest-quality graphics cards available. Even then, the support for 8K is still too new to be completely reliable.
The last obstacle for 8K monitors like the UP3218K is the size; in order to even see the pixels on a 32-inch display, you would have to be sitting closer than a foot from the screen. For 4K monitors of the same size, that threshold is 25 inches. That means that in order to get more out of viewing a 32-inch 8K monitor than a comparable 4K monitor, you would have to be sitting within two feet of the screen. Any distance further and you literally cannot tell the difference. And, when the price tag is anywhere from four to 10 times the price of a 4K monitor, the benefits of 8K really don’t outweigh the cost.
Who is Dell’s 8K monitor for then?
This device is clearly not for everyone. Unless you are interested in really future-proofing your PC, there are only a few very specific circumstances where you could find value in the Dell UP3218K. The target audience are professionals (think: photographers, video editors, architects, etc.) who need to see fine detail and who could use the extra real estate when editing images at 4K and greater.
Even if you are thinking of buying this monitor for the time 8K support inevitably becomes more common, you might find yourself waiting a while. At this point, 4K is still a fairly new technology. Some movies, like “Deadpool” and “Batman v Superman,” have 4K editions available, and even Netflix allows streaming of its original series in 4K, but it is not yet universally supported. 4K is not even expected to enter a third of American homes until 2020, according to IHS Markit projections. Furthermore, even conservative estimates put 8K’s establishment as an industry standard no sooner than five years down the road.
Regardless of whether or not you are interested in picking one up for yourself, the 32-inch Dell UP3218K is an exciting indication of things to come. It may not yet be totally practical, but the fact that a device like this exists means that this 8K technology is well on its way to becoming significant, if not universal.