⇡ # Coronavirus is a brake on the development of technologies and the emergence of new products
First, about the main thing: almost everything that the manufacturers presented at the end of 2019 began to appear on sale only now, and we are still waiting for some of the promised new products. This has not happened before, except perhaps for the situation with super-expensive models like ASUS PG27UQ and Acer X27, the wait for which lasted for 3 years.
The coronavirus has seriously spoiled the plans of the entire industry and many of the announcements actually turned out to be “paper”. The promises of BOE and Samsung to fully master mini- and micro-LED technologies and to launch retail models based on them for the middle and upper market segments by the end of summer or early autumn did not become a reality either. On the territory of Russia, the aforementioned gaming solutions with FALD-backlighting almost completely disappeared from sale, and the first desktop OLED display released by ASUS was supplied with a barring price (~ 400 thousand rubles per 22 inches), besides, the available parties themselves were extremely small.
A story of a different nature once again happened to Dell. The manufacturer at CES 2020 demonstrated the final version of the 55-inch OLED monitor, promising to launch it soon, but there are still periodic supply problems, and on many popular online sites the model is completely absent from the range. And the reviews for the new product turned out not to be very good, which, of course, was facilitated by the price at the level of 4,000 dollars.
In general, it turned out almost the same as last time, with a 30-inch OLED model – they started selling, faced problems and gradually curtailed production. Will the Alienware AW5520QF suffer the same fate? It is quite a likely development of events, especially if you look at the market for modern OLED TVs, where you can find solutions similar in capabilities and characteristics, but half the price.
⇡ # Fast-IPS monitors and fastest * VA Samsung Odyssey
One of the main events in the past year was the conquest of new peaks of speed – both for IPS- and * VA-like models. The first manufacturers were practically officially dubbed the term Fast-IPS, and the frequency range of such solutions ranges from 144 to 360 Hz. In all cases, the response of the liquid crystals was significantly improved (compared to what we saw in the previous generation IPS), and this led to a decrease in delays when switching between different colors and, accordingly, a decrease in the visibility and length of trails behind moving objects on the screen.
After such success of manufacturers, many cyber-athletes and just advanced gamers have stopped dreaming of buying high-speed displays based on TN + Film technology, which was previously considered the fastest, giving their preference to IPS-novelties. Of course, the difference in speed between these two types of matrices is still present, but now for many it is completely negligible, so there is no point in putting up with TN’s shortcomings.
Business has moved off the ground in the area of * VA-technology, previously considered the slowest, all other things being equal. By the middle of autumn, Samsung put on sale its novelties from the Odyssey series: the G7 models with a diagonal of 27 and 32 inches, as well as the 49-inch G9. New * VA panels at their core are capable of providing not only a significantly increased response speed, but also a vertical scanning frequency of 240 Hz at high screen resolutions (from WQHD and higher), which made Samsung the first manufacturer to submit to this TX combination.
Unlike the previously presented gaming Odyssey, the new items received a more daring design and a significantly increased degree of curvature for greater immersion in what is happening (but not everyone likes it), while on many color transitions in speed they reached the level of the best IPS representatives and even bypassed some of them, and the manifestation of the Black-Smearing effect (smearing on black) was significantly reduced. In other words – G7 and G9 are the fastest * VAs on planet Earth, and it looks like other manufacturers will get these panels no earlier than in six months or a year. These are the rules of the game, alas.
⇡ # Meet Sharp in the gaming segment
Suddenly, by the end of 2020, the Japanese company Sharp made itself known, which we mainly recalled in conversations about IGZO displays and advanced smartphones, produced mainly for the Asian sales market. But now, after the purchase of the LCD panel factory from Japan Display (JDI), Sharp is also mentioned in the description of gaming desktop monitors.
The manufacturer decided not to hesitate and immediately conquer everyone with the phenomenal technical characteristics of its first game panels.
The combination of 27 inches diagonal, 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution, wide color gamut (93-95% DCI-P3 and 100% AdobeRGB) and 0.3ms MPRT response is a powerful blow to competitors in the face of AUO with their Fast IPS and LG Display with Nano-IPS. The development of competition is always good, so it remains to wish the Japanese further success in mastering new technologies and the speedy use of their IPS solutions in a larger number of monitors.
⇡ # Professional novelties from Dell – an attempt to take away the leadership from EIZO or a competition with HP?
Who has the most expensive and advanced professional monitors? – The overwhelming majority of consumers will have one answer to this question: EIZO. Indeed, aside from the rare reference solutions from Barco and Sony for medical and cinematographic purposes, the Japanese EIZO has a really large portfolio of unique displays, priced at $ 2,000-4,000+.
The basis of their uniqueness, in particular, this concerns solutions of the Color Edge family, for many years there was a built-in retractable colorimeter for automatic monitor calibration and constant color quality control. Other manufacturers could only dream of such a thing, therefore, as a more affordable alternative, they released special versions of their professional solutions with an external colorimeter included in the delivery set (as a rule, these were – and still remain – relabeled solutions from the Swiss X-Rite) and adapted Software, and not always of high quality.
The first attempt to release an analogue of expensive EIZOs was made by HP, reorienting some monitors from the Dream Color series. The beginning was laid about 2.5-3 years ago – and at the moment HP has 3-4 such models. We got acquainted with one of them, the HP DreamColor Z27x Gen 2 monitor earlier – and were very impressed. The device is significantly more affordable than similar solutions from EIZO, has extremely broad capabilities, but is focused on a user with a technical mindset – for a simple photographer without knowledge in the field of coloristics and experience working with models of this kind, the monitor will be too advanced and complex.
In 2020, the American Dell decided to take a similar path, releasing an update to its professional UltraSharp UP line in the segments of 27-inch WQHD solutions and 32-inch 4K on IPS matrices. So far, you can only buy the first of the two without problems, but the older friend, based on mini-LED-backlighting with 2000 separately controlled zones, will have to wait a little longer.
Both monitors feature a retractable colorimeter that is tucked into the wide bottom of the case, rather than the top of the competition, eliminating the need for huge outer bezels. The manufacturer revised its approach to hardware calibration and allowed it to be carried out not only through the separately supplied software based on the X-Rite i1 Profiler, but also through the monitor menu. There are plenty of settings in the latter case, and to carry out the procedure, the user only needs a couple of clicks.
The menu itself and the manufacturer’s approach are generally simpler and friendlier than those of HP, and the cost of the UP2720Q, already available for more than six months, is about 95-100 thousand rubles, that is, it is two times cheaper than its counterpart from EIZO. Yes, you will not receive a 5-year warranty and the Made in Japan inscription, but otherwise the possibilities of new Dell products are wider and more interesting than those of the Japanese.
⇡ # Xiaomi has taken over the monitor market?
“And what about the Chinese?” – you ask. We answer: everyone is doing well, and the truly popular Xiaomi is even better. In mainland China itself, its monitors are scattering like hot cakes, the available solutions are becoming more and more, and more recently, the first 27-inch WQHD IPS for advanced gamers with a vertical frequency of 165 Hz reached Russia, which turned out to be the fifth in the company’s range. The Mi Gaming Display 27 is likely to rise to the level of popularity of one of Xiaomi’s first-borns, the Mi Surface Display 34, which has brought down sales of high-speed 34-inch * VA models from long-established manufacturers in this segment.
The product may not be perfect, but the ability to get a fast (at least on paper) and the most affordable ultra-widescreen display turned out to be much more important for consumers than its quality. Many turn a blind eye to the obvious shortcomings, others do not see them point-blank, calling the Xiaomi product the best in the class. As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle, and we hope that in the future the manufacturer will have a desire to make not only outwardly attractive monitors, but also solutions without children’s ailments, based on outstanding panels in terms of characteristics and maintaining the same attractive pricing policy …
⇡ # The first pancake is lumpy. A tale of flaws in the first firmware of modern monitors. New reality.
The desire to be the first and faster to launch a particular product on the market has long led to the fact that devices often come out raw – with software and, in the worst case, hardware problems. If we talk about smartphones and tablets, a lot can be fixed with new firmware with integrated patches, however, for most monitors, such a procedure is possible only in a service center, and, frankly, few engineers will be happy with your visit. In addition, without a clear indication of the problem, which should be obvious and clearly visible to everyone around, even to those with poor eyesight (a joke in which there is some truth), it will be impossible to achieve a result.
Thus, the optimal solution to the problem is to provide the user with the ability to flash the display at home. Some manufacturers began to use this approach for some of their models, which led to one negative effect. In addition to the obvious possibility of ruining the monitor during firmware in case of electrical problems, the second, less obvious problem is the desire of manufacturers to release the product as soon as possible, without paying due attention to polishing the firmware. New top-end solutions from LG and Samsung are direct proof of this.
The newest and long-announced LG 27GN950 with a high-speed 4K IPS-matrix from the factory does not provide the ability to emulate sRGB at the proper level, does not allow high-quality hardware calibration, it may flicker, and when turned off, it loses the data recorded in the “Calibration 1” and “Calibration 2” presets … It took LG almost 2 months to release a new firmware that eliminated these problems. Separately, we would like to note the longest possible firmware process, which lasts 35-40 minutes, during which the power supply must be stable, otherwise no guarantee will help you. Believe me, you will tickle your nerves, but as a nice bonus, you will get the ability to overclock the vertical frequency to 160 Hz. This is LG’s gesture of goodwill for your suffering!
The second, much more popular and discussed example from the life of modern monitors, lives in the range of Samsung. The problematic models include both displays of the G7 series, on which everyone took up arms for the flickering of the picture when the adaptive synchronization system is running. The company spent about three months fixing the problem, releasing a total of three or four firmwares. That being said, we do not know if the problems with the bad factory setting and the actually not working sRGB emulation mode were fixed, as is the case with LG. We only know that flashing Samsung is easier, faster and more reliable, because it is done directly on the monitor via a plug-in USB flash drive with a pre-downloaded firmware.
What will happen next? It looks like there are no options here. This practice will become the norm, and consumers will once again be beta testers for their own money. It doesn’t matter how much money you pay for a new monitor. Problematic display for 50 or even 100-150 thousand rubles? You are welcome. Receive, sign! Don’t forget to check for dead pixels and backlight uniformity.
⇡ # Confuse me completely! GTG vs MPRT
Manufacturers continue to confuse buyers, and therefore, in 2020, the fashion for the use of the term MPRT (Motion Picture Response Time) has greatly shifted the abbreviation GtG (Gray to Gray), which is familiar to the ear and the eye. , according to the scheme 10-90%) in the description of the speed of game models. As a result, we often see figures of the order of 0.3 or 0.5 ms MPRT, but it seems that this is not the limit yet.
The loophole found by the companies can actually tell the consumer about just a few things: the possibility of the backlight system operating in the “insert black frame” mode and the maximum vertical scanning frequency at which this system can operate. As a result, the MPRT figure indicates the time when each frame appears on the monitor screen, and the rest of the time the backlight remains off. The higher the refresh rate, the less each frame is displayed to preserve the CRT monitor effect required for “black frame insertion”. Thus, by increasing the frequency, the manufacturer absolutely legally reduces the declared MPRT time.
In this case, you should always be aware of the fact that the use of systems of “black frame insertion” significantly increases the load on the eyes, often increases the visibility of artifacts from low-quality Overdrive overclocking, and therefore most of the time (especially not playing time) the monitor will be used in normal mode, for which the concept of MPRT is simply not applicable and has no meaning. For example, with the specified 0.5 ms MPRT, the GtG response time can easily be the usual 4-6 marketing ms, and up to 10-20 + ms with real measurements on various transitions. So what is there to believe? Only to your eyes!
⇡ # Ergo-models of monitors in each segment. Did you ask? Get it!
Ergo models, as they came to be called in 2020, are solutions with the included VESA bracket with wide ergonomic possibilities and a compact mount to the table top, which allows you to save workspace around and better fit the monitor into a modern minimalistic interior, while ensuring work with the monitor in any position.
Previously, there were corresponding modifications of some popular Dell models on sale, and at the end of 2019, similar solutions were presented by LG and Samsung. In almost all cases, they belonged to business displays with a vertical frequency of 60-75 Hz, and therefore were not particularly interesting for those who like to play. But 2020 is not an easy year, and therefore the concept has undergone some changes.
LG decided to continue their beginnings with Ergo displays and in the range, among other ergonomic novelties, there was a gaming solution based on the super popular 27GL850 with a Nano-IPS matrix, which is named LG 27GN880-B. The monitor combines the best of the gaming industry and a VESA bracket of the level of top solutions from the American Ergotron (for example, the Desk Arm LX series). For such a stand, LG wants about two times less than the amount for which you can buy a similar one on the Internet, and therefore such an offer looks very interesting.
ASUS takes a slightly different approach to promoting Ergo monitors. First on the list is ROG Swift’s latest 360Hz monitor, modified by the PG259QNR. The solution comes with two types of stands, however, using part of the bracket does not provide the same degree of freedom as products from LG and Samsung, but allows you to clean up unnecessary from the desktop.
⇡ # Where DCI-P3 is, there is AdobeRGB. Why not?
The transition from the standard sRGB color space to the newfangled DCI-P3 seems to be in jeopardy. Rapid development of advanced backlight systems, obtained by sputtering various chemical elements (variations of QD-LED, PFS Phosphor W-LED, KSF Phosphor W-LED, Nano-IPS, etc.) onto an additional light-scattering layer or directly onto blue LED backlight elements led to the fact that the conquest of DCI-P3 has become an easy task, and most importantly – quite affordable from a financial point of view.
Previously, it was possible to achieve this through the use of expensive, hot and complex lighting systems such as RGB-LED and GB-r-LED, which are ubiquitous in professional models with an extended color gamut and corresponding price. Now, when more affordable and simple technologies have made it possible to achieve such high results, manufacturers have gradually begun to bring solutions to the market with 99-100% color match to the AdobeRGB space. High numbers are everything – and marketers know it!
Для подавляющего большинства потребителей это значит, что насыщенность картинки на экране будет ещё выше, чем на DCI-P3-мониторах, а у профессионалов (в основном тех, кто ещё занимается печатью) появится больше возможностей по работе с цветом – то, ради чего ещё несколько лет назад приходилось сильно переплачивать. В зависимости от уровня монитора и принятого производителем подхода цветовой охват может быть искусственно ограничен путём эмуляции более узких цветовых пространств/стандартов, как в виде классического варианта – дополнительных режимов, — так и на глобальном уровне – сохранить более комфортный для глаз спектр подсветки, но урезать ЦО для всех режимов единовременно. По последнему сценарию уже создано несколько известных автору этих строк моделей и, по всей видимости, это только начало…
⇡#Прогноз на 2021 год
Когда вы будете читать эти строки, 2020 год уже закончится. Это был по-настоящему необычный год! Никто и представить себе не мог, с какими трудностями мы столкнемся и какое влияние Covid-19 окажет на мир. ИТ-индустрия не осталась в стороне и многие планы производителей в одночасье рухнули, что напрямую повлияло на ранее данный нами прогноз, из которого мало что сбылось (кстати, впервые за последние 5 лет).
Теперь будем осторожны и расскажем о том, что знаем наверняка, без завышенных ожиданий от производителей и индустрии в целом. Итак, совсем скоро в продаже должны появиться 31,5-32-дюймовые 4К IPS-решения c частотой 144 Гц. Раньше с такими характеристиками можно быстро встретить лишь 27-дюймовые модели, и только часть из них научилась работать на максимальной частоте без потери качества картинки (спасибо технологии сжатия DSC). К сожалению, такое нововведение потребовало аппаратных изменений, поэтому производители были вынуждены выпустить новые модели своих мониторов.
Уже в начале года вы сможете приобрести WQHD-модели c частотой 240 Гц не только от Samsung, на изогнутой *VA, но и в виде IPS-решений от ASUS, Acer, Dell и Gigabyte. Появятся аналоги 360-Гц PG259QN с более доступной ценой и ультраширокоформатные решения на базе Nano-IPS от LG Display, которым придётся побороться за своё место под солнцем» занятое сейчас продуктом самой LG. Продолжится тренд на использование интерфейса USB Type-C с возможностью одновременной зарядки ноутбука. Сейчас его устанавливают даже на некоторые игровые модели, что раньше было невообразимо.
В доступной рознице так и не появятся OLED-мониторы, mini-LED ещё точно год останутся в топ-сегменте профессиональных и геймерских дисплеев, а ожидаемый конкурент органическим светодиодам в виде неорганических micro-LED, может ворваться в прототипы дорогих телевизоров, но до реального потребителя и за адекватные деньги доберётся теперь не скоро. Будьте здоровы!
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