For a long time very high resolution displays were reserved for tablets, smartphones and, to a certain extent, laptops. As we're approaching 2014, signs are more promising now for desktop monitors as well. WQHD models are becoming more affordable and various manufacturers have announced new 4K or UHD screens for 2014. Dell announced no less than three monitors that boast a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels. We tested the 24-inch model, the UltraSharp U2414Q. Dell managed to raise the bar very high right away.
The pixel density of a 24-inch monitor with UHD resolution is almost 184 pixels per (square) inch. That's twice as high as Full HD, but far less than tablets and smartphone displays that have exceeded 500 ppi already. However, your face tends to be a lot closer to those mobile devices than to a computer monitor.
The advantage of a higher pixel density is sharper text, photos will have more detail and colours and transitions look better. It really makes a difference whether you have 200 or 400 pixels for a colour gradient. Once you've gotten used to a higher pixel density, you will notice the inferior experience of lower resolutions.
There remains one practical challenge when using higher resolution monitors (also referred to as HiDPI), specifically in Windows. Since Microsoft allows third-party developers lots of freedom when it comes to designing windows and icons, not all applications scale correctly with a higher pixel density. Microsoft's own 'Modern UI' in Windows 8 works fine, but when you increase the classic desktop environment beyond 125%, things can get very tiny. Programs such as Adobe Photoshop, which could greatly benefit from more desktop space, scale poorly.
It's a classic case of the chicken and the egg. With more consumers adopting high resolution monitors, developers will be more likely to overhaul their interfaces to better take advantage of high resolutions. Apple's MacOS X does a better job than Windows, likely also because Apple places many more restrictions on developers.
We previously tested the 32-inch Sharp PN-K321H, which uses Sharps IGZO technology and was the first 4K monitor we tested.
Now Dell comes with three new 4K monitors, a 32-inch model, a 28-inch model and the 24-inch UP2414Q, subject of this review.
The recommended retails price of the UP2414Q is around 1,450 euro including VAT (about £1,225). While a lot of money, it's a steal compared to the 32-inch Sharp priced around £3,195 when it came out. Not only that, the new Dell monitors are also supposed to have better colour-rendering than the Sharp PN-K321H.