When it comes to monitors, bigger is always better.
When we first started using multiple monitors so we could see more and do more, the bezels were anywhere from one to one and one-half inches thick. They got thinner over time but still ate up a quarter to a half-inch each. It doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re looking at a CAD drawing or a big spreadsheet, it makes a lot of difference. The productivity you gain from multiple displays is partially lost as you scroll the image back and forth to get the continuity desired.
Big displays aren’t new. The curved 38-inch display has been with us for over five years. And not too long ago, Dell introduced a 49-inch monitor. It was fantastic, still is. Dell didn’t design or position it as a gaming monitor, but I play games on it, and the FOV is incredible. The only drawback is it is only 1440 lines. That’s not an insufficient number for a gaming monitor; there are still many folks playing on an HD screen. But I’m a pixel pig, and I want more; I always want more. Dell heard me and made a 31-inch 8k display. I couple that up with two companion 31-in 4K screens to give me a staggering 53 megapixels—how’s that for More? But then there’s those bezels.
Once again, Dell was listening (I wonder if they’ve tapped my phone). During CES 2021, Dell rolled out a 40-inch, 5k beauty. Now we’re talking—11 bezeless megapixels.
Seeing more, doing more, without bezels
With a 40-inch 5k monitor you could have six Zoom windows open at an individual resolution of 1706 × 1080, almost six 13-in HD screens. If you’re a big Zoomer, that’d probably delight you. But if you are a big file user and/or a multi-app user, it should probably make you downright giddy. Think about it—no offsets, no skew, no color imbalance: all that represents less eye fatigue and unquestioned productivity improvement.
But I’m still a pixel pig, so I immediately coupled it up with my 17-in 5K notebook giving me 22-megapixels.
22-megapixels in a cubical
This exercise aimed to address the issue of big monitors and limited desk or office space. I spent several hours in front of this configuration looking for problems. I did everything I usually do on my monster 53-megapixel 3-monitor rig—which, BTW, occupies 56-inches of desk space and consumes over 200 watts. The standard size for a traditional office desk is about 60 × 30-inches, which means you’re giving up over 50% of it to your monitors. I’m fortunate in that I have a huge tabletop, but most people work in cubicles.
Another way to think about it is if you crammed two 27-inch 2560 × 1440 monitors together, you’d get 7.3 megapixels spread across 49-inches—66% of what you could get with the Dell UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD Monitor (U4021QW) and no bezels.
Hooking it up.
It was really tough. First of all, I had to plug in the power cord. Then I had to connect a USB-C cable from my notebook to the Dell U4021Qw. And then, is there no end to my burden? I had to look at my notebook so it would know it was me. It did, and it immediately connected and configured the monitors (that’s Microsoft’s magic). The elapsed time from putting the monitor on the desk until I was moving a cursor around on it ~ 2 minutes. I can remember when it would take an hour or more to get such a configuration to work. Now, when I approach the desk, the notebook and 40-inch monitor wake up and are ready to go. More productivity—my coffee doesn’t even cool off.
The UltraSharp 40 IPS display offers wide color coverage and excellent color performance. The color specs on it are 100% sRGB, 98% DCI-P3 with 1B colors. Also, it’s a commercial panel, so the refresh rate is 60 Hz. However, the monitor has a 5–8 ms response time. It can deliver a billion colors, making it a 10-bit color-depth display. But even though it has an LED backlight, it’s not modulated and doesn’t have 1k nits (it has 300 nits, to be precise), so it can’t be called an HDR display, and it only draws 90 watts.
It comes with a Thunderbolt 3 port (that power a notebook). Other ports include a pair of HDMI 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort 1.4 port, four USB Type-A ports with data speeds of up to 10Gbps, an Ethernet port, a 3.5mm jack, and a USB Type-B upstream port, and integrated 9W speakers. Dell says the new monitor will be available on January 28th, 2021, for $2,100.
What do we think?
This is not a competitive gamer’s monitor, but most gamers aren’t competitive players. Most gamers are playing on a 60 Hz 1440 monitor. Therefore, the U4021Qw ought to be an outstanding gamer’s monitor too. I plan to test that theory.
The Dell U4021Qw could be the last monitor you’ll buy. Let me say that differently, I don’t want to crater Dell’s share price—the Dell U4021Qw could be the last monitor you’ll need. It’s hard to call something the ultimate, but this monitor comes damn close. It’s the right physical size; it’s definitely the right resolution, it’s the right color depth, and it’s ridiculously easy to install.
Remember when 1k (HD) monitors were introduced. It took almost 10 years for everyone to get one. This will be similar. There’s a bunch of people who are going to look at this and say – wow- if only… In the meantime, Dell will speed up the refresh rate, pump up the nits, and it will become the HDR gaming monitor we all dream about. I really think this could become the next standard in displays.