4K TV as the computer monitor

Apr 2, 2018
So here I am, decided to solve my screen estate problems with a 4K television from LG.

Because this thing is 49" UHD with an IPS panel for 350 € there's surely something wrong with this. Well let's find out! The store I bought this from has a most generous return policy so I have about a month to decide if I want to keep it.

Is 49" necessary?

Screen estate is the primary reason I want to explore this scenario. There's a big list of detailed technical reasons behind it, but the end result is that an 4K UHD panel in size 42-49 inches is going to offer me the amount of screen estate I really desire, even "need".

4K monitors in 27" size give me "effectively" 3.6 megapixels of screen estate because I have to scale the UI to be able to see everything comfortably. (Pics would appear super crisp though.)

4K monitors in 43" size give me "effectively" all of the promised 8 megapixels because I don't need to scale the UI.

Alternatives include: two 4K 27" monitors in scaled mode. I'm getting 2x3.6 effective megapixels = enough. But how are you going to place two big honking monitors so that you can comfortably view one straight on, and the second should still be easily viewable so that I don't waste that bought estate. This is a big logistical challenge.

Hence, a single 42-49" 4K panel is solving a lot of problems at once, and potentially very affordably at that!

Is IPS necessary?

I honestly don't know how bad/good the viewing angles are with TN panels today. But assuming that no matter how good a modern TN panel is today, equally new IPS panel is going to offer better angles.

Is LG necessary?

LG is the only manufacturer who offers IPS panels in affordable models. I have had bad and good experiences with various LG models. I know good Samsung and Philips panels to be good panels in PC use from the past. But they are not offering IPS panels in these price ranges.

Why not OLED?

OLED would be very good I assume. So good as to justify some premium at the price. But sadly the pixels they use in OLED televisions are sufficiently big that there aren't affordable options in 42-49-inch sizes.

What's good

For the price of 350 € the colors aren't bad. The screen estate is nice, very roomy. The viewing angles are pretty stretched even with IPS technology -- the edges appear somewhat dim but it's within reasonable expectations I would say.

This panel also seems to have a decent gamut and it reproduces a smooth tone gradation.

Viewing own images in 20x30" while developing is really wonderful. It's also wonderful being able to allocate more space for raw developer tools and toolbars so that you get a better sense where you're at and so on.

What's bad

The LG uses RGBW technology and now I fully realise what that means actually in use. All colored text and such loses definition in a funny way ... black on white is crisp but red on white for example looks as if it was JPEG-compressed. Very tiny text can interestingly enough lose color altogether if in one location on screen... shift it by one pixel to the left or right and you get color back.

Many hate this effect and see this "white paper" or blog post by Samsung, no doubt aimed at throwing shade at LG What is RGBW TV? -- this picture from the post highlights what I am seeing.



What's most interesting in all this, the effect is not visible while looking at images, or developing own. It's like JPEG compression in that sense also. You don't see the compression artifacts in a photograph but in normal text in an editor or web browser it's noticeable and gives a very low-fidelity viewing experience.




Like said, I'm free to return this and I have a good month or so to study workarounds and things. Do I like the big view? Yep. Would I prefer a crisper RGB pixel panel? Definitely! But TV-wise, there aren't many in FI markets that could offer IPS angles of view without RGBA in a budget friendly manner.
 
Apr 2, 2018
I'm pretty torn about whether to keep this setup or not. (Day #3)

While yes, in picture development this is half-decent, the pixels are pretty terrible in web/word processing. For 50 € less, I could get a well regarded QHD 27" panel (for example, Lenovo 27q) that offers me 3.6 effective megapixels -- the same as 4K if scaled 150%. I could throw my existing 24" FHD monitor as a secondary monitor and get a combination of ~5.6 MP of screen estate.

Still have plenty of time to decide. There's actually a pretty decent chance I can just finetune my font type hinting and colors to get crisp text where it matters.
 

ReneBee

Veteran
Oct 20, 2013
Nieuwegein, The Netherlands
René
I tink that for pixel-peeping the 49" works nicely, but for other computer it seems a bit big to me....
The 27" here works well, in both. I do more computer work than post work on my photos.
Here the Windos scaling is also on 150%, but in Firefox the scaling is on 90% for whatever reason, but that works.
The only thing with the photos that are shown here: they are scaled up. So often I copy the photo to display it in Irfanview in its original size.
 
Apr 2, 2018
I went ahead and browsed other tellies at the store. To my surprise, all display models showed tremendously good viewing angles. Not all of them were OLEDs, I'm sure. This gives me confidence to explore the cheaper VA or TN paneled TVs -- they won't appear gray on the edges :)

I'm starting to think that with my budget I want to continue with the TV aspect, and I want to return this and try another one, with proper pixels. The potential is tremendous.

These sorts of options at the hands. 2x27" option is the most expensive at around 600 and up, besides money there's the need for physical space and there's also big requirement for computing power.

The last option has its problems with scaling. No operating system does a good job managing multiple displays with different scaling factors.

Replace "4K UHD at 150% scaling" with a "QHD" monitor and you don't need to scale. You lose that pizzazz from the pictures as well.

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The second option is also terrible in that what direction the user is supposed to be looking at. :) Both being equal monitors, either I sit awkwardly in one end of my table.

Assuming the 3rd option with a QHD panel so that both displays can draw at 100% scaling this starts to sound slightly more reasonable. One can safely place the smaller FHD as the secondary monitor and treat the 27" monitor as the main one. As added benefit if I buy a larger table I can also fit yet another garbage FHD (buy one for 30 € or so) for non-graphical things. It'll balance nicely very nicely, know that from experience.
 
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Apr 2, 2018
I hit the stores today.

I saw a surprisingly many good LG models out there even though people said there's so many ones with those poor RGBW pixels out there.

This is a sample of the bad RGBW pixel matrix. Just like that rival Samsung's white paper promised.



The color appears as hexagon pattern really.

And the next two are samples from two different good RGB panels.



LG's "NanoCell" technology looks nice too (below). I was told most every NanoCell television uses RGBW but it doesn't seem to be the case.








So this is looking good. I can get IPS panel, good desktop performance and the normal RGB pixels.
 

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