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Report: Your Monitor Could Actually Be a 4K Display Disguised to Be Inferior

27 JUN 2018

It sounds crazy, but you could very well be the owner of a fancy high-resolution 4K monitor without ever knowing it, a new report claims.

According to German tech site PRAD, some monitors on the market are actually 4K displays that are downscaled to only show lower resolutions.


On the face of it, this doesn't seem to make any sense. Why would companies hide more advanced, superior technology in cheaper products that sell for considerably less?

Well, if the claims are true, there's a perfectly good reason for it: economics.

While they might still be something of a rarity among consumers, high-resolution 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) panels are becoming cheaper to manufacture (and buy) all the time.

So cheap, in fact, that anonymous manufacturers of monitor panels say the price difference between supplying them as opposed to supplying lower-resolution QHD (2,560 × 1,440 pixels) panel has become negligible in some circumstances – according to PRAD.

"Depending on the order situation, a higher-resolution panel is simply installed in the event of [QHD] supply shortages, as actually specified in the data sheet," PRAD writes.

Unfortunately, the customer never becomes aware of this, because firmware in the 4K monitor forces the unit to downscale to QHD resolution (which is still pretty fine, for what it's worth).

Of course, QHD models are themselves a fairly rare commodity, but if these claims are accurate, thousands of people are actually staring at disguised, dumbed-down displays that would have been technically capable of producing much finer, high-resolution images.


Is there any way we can unlock and restore that higher resolution? According to PRAD, unfortunately not, with the site explaining they were assured that flashing the firmware won't give back the benefit of 4K UHD resolution.

At present it's not known which manufacturers (or models) have been doing this, but if you want some tips on how to find out if your monitor could be affected, check PRAD's website for more information, or contact your manufacturer.

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