Spectrum design update!

Hello community!

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been busy creating one design from your favorite concepts while also considering manufacturability and mechanical engineering. In this post we can’t yet show you the final renders or product pictures, but we can give you an idea of the direction we are going with.

Before we dive in…

If you’re new to our crowd-developed monitor Project: Spectrum or if you just need a quick recap of what we’ve been up to so far, have a look at this summary of everything to do with the project so far . If you want to keep up to date with future steps, be sure to subscribe to our crowd-development newsletter!

From 5 to 1

The feedback from our design concept topic has been very important for us because we were able to clarify the product direction and narrow down a large number of possible options! From the previous post it was clear that two concepts were in the lead: Bloxy and Blade! And with a few more questions from the designers answered, we got a clear idea of how to handle ports, controls, and other features.

But we also know that voting is not everything and we had to really dig deeper in the comments in order to understand why certain features or design solutions were preferred over others. These are our thoughts…

Bloxy

The Bloxy concept was popular for its practical, functional approach and unpretentious, long-lasting and function-driven design and the easily accessible ports. Some negative comments consider the look too generic, comparing it to wide-spread Dell monitors. The separate control buttons were also not popular.

Blade

The Blade concept was praised for its interesting, distinctive and modern aesthetic, both of the monitor and of the stand. The slim bezel construction makes it look almost bezel-less giving it a premium feel. The centered back joystick was considered easy to find and use, and the subtle logo placement felt discreet. The negative comments in general focused on the hard-to reach ports, feeling that a functional approach had been abandoned to achieve a more pleasing look.

The other concepts

The other concepts were not nearly as popular, but each still received some feedback that we can learn from. The look of the actual ring-shaped hinge of the Ring concept was praised for being recognizable and distinctive, and the quote printed on it is a unique element. The Float design’s side port placement was considered very easy and quick to access. The Stationary concept was liked by fans of wireless charging and cable management, as these added useful functionality to the stand.

New Spectrum concept

After many discussions and summaries, a combination of Bloxy and Blade seemed the natural direction to take. In our previous post we’d mentioned a concept we’d discarded early, we felt that this one melded the two in such a way that the end result was too generic and lost the very features that made Bloxy and Blade so distinct. But we’ve been working on the other concept, and it’s finally time to show some of it to you!

We really want to focus on getting the basics right, and as we work out mechanical design and component sourcing the design may still change. So for now we’ll stick to illustrations, and we’ll save the high quality render fireworks for later.


Parts & Features

We believe most people will easily understand what is what, but it is always satisfying to make this kind of illustrations :slight_smile:

Though we’ve already confirmed what ports will be available, now we can finally see our ports for Spectrum. The order of the bottom ports may change during product development and testing, the side ports will be in the order as shown. We are aware that in the current iteration of this design some cables may get in the way when using the joystick, we are still working on a solution.

We think the best compromise is a combination of three distinct buttons: A joystick for menu operation, a concave-shaped input switch button underneath that, and a power button with integrated indicator light on the bottom edge of the monitor. We are still trying to source a joystick that slides instead of tilts (like on the Nintendo 3DS), as it will take up less space and shouldn’t affect the user experience.

Stand features

Ergonomics and adjustment were often mentioned in the comments, and we feel the Spectrum stand should be up to the task. We are constantly bombarding suppliers to get the best components so that we can offer a product that can hold its own in the market.


Cable management is also brought up a lot, and our current design features a simple through-hole solution for banding together cables. For people who want to have a keyboard or mouse plugged in permanently, the design currently offers a in the bottom of the stand that guides cables to the front. Our idea is to have the back of the channel narrower to keep the cables grouped behind the stand, and in the illustration below you can see the green cable as an example of a keyboard or mouse using this channel.

Feature update, late November

Since Spectrum is currently in the industrial design stage, we have few spec updates – we’ll make up for that later when we move on to mechanical- and electronic design. As we already revealed just now, pivot is now confirmed for the stand so rotating to portrait mode is possible. We can now also confirm that we will not have edge-to-edge cover glass, as we cannot get the panel coated the right way to make that work. Instead the panel will have a low-haze, anti-glare coating.

Click here to see the full updated spec- and feature request lists.

(recently confirmed or changed items have been underlined)

Project Spectrum
Panel
Size 27"
Panel technology IPS TFT LCD
Native resolution 2560 x 1440 Quad-HD
Pixel pitch 0.2335mm
Pixel density 108.79ppi
Aspect ratio 16 : 9
Backlight technology LED
Local backlight dimming No
Brightness 400cd/m² typical
450cd/m² peak
Contrast ratio 1000 : 1 – 1300 : 1 typical
Displayable colors 1.07 billion
Color gamut 98% DCI-P3
Color depth 10-bit (8-bit + A-FRC)
Surface treatment Low-haze, 20% anti-glare
Response time 1 ms
Refresh rate 48Hz – 144Hz native
48Hz – 165Hz overclocked
Curve No
Touch-enabled No
Pen-enabled No
Ports
(1x) HDMI HDMI 2.0a video input
(2x) DisplayPort DisplayPort 1.4 video input
DisplayPort 1.4 video output for daisy-chaining
(2x) USB Type-C HDMI (1.4b) Alternate Mode video input
HDMI (1.4b) Alternate Mode video output for daisy-chaining
DisplayPort (1.4) Alternate Mode video input
DisplayPort (1.4) Alternate Mode video output for daisy-chaining
USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gbps) downstream
USB 3.1 upstream connection to computer
1x USB PowerDelivery up to 20V / 5A (100W)
1x power output up to 5V / 3A (15W)
(2x) USB Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gbps) downstream
power output up to 5V / 2A (10W)
(1x) USB Type-B USB 3.1 upstream connection to computer
(1x) 3.5mm minijack headphone / speaker output from video input source
Speakers No
Features
HDR HDR10 Media Profile
VESA DisplayHDR400 certified
Adaptive sync G-SYNC Compatible certified (48Hz – 165Hz)
FreeSync 2 certified (48Hz – 165Hz)
Simultaneous active inputs Picture-in-picture mode
Split-screen mode
Quad split-screen mode
Pixel-perfect upscaling Integer-ratio upscaling by pixel duplication for low-resolution input signals
Emulated sRGB mode Mapped to DCI-P3 for optimal color accuracy of sRGB content
Variable overdrive Yes (multiple profiles)
Backlight strobing Yes
Controls
Buttons 1x Power button
1x Pre-set button (default function: switch between active inputs)
1x 4-Way joystick (OSD menu controls)
Controls are centered on the bottom edge and back of monitor
Status lights 1x Power indicator light (solid white when on, pulsing white when stand-by) ¹
OSD adjustments ² Global dimming (on / off)
Select USB hub source (USB-B / USB-C)
Ergonomics
Wall-mount VESA Mounting Interface Standard compatible
Vertical tilt ³ Yes (8° down, 24° up)
Horizontal swivel ³ No
Pivot ³ Yes (90° landscape to portrait rotation)
Height adjust ³ Yes (130mm)
Stand removable ³ Yes (with quick-release button)
Power
Power supply External power adapter

Product is still in development, specifications may be subject to change. | ¹ RGB option still being explored | ² Other OSD features still to be announced | ³ Stand sold separately

Feature requests

(recently confirmed or changed items have been underlined)

feature support notes
Hardware
HDMI 2.1 / DisplayPort 2.0 support No We’re ‘limited’ to HDMI 2.0a and DisplayPort 1.4, but those are more than sufficient to drive this display and all its supported features. No current or future functionality will be lost because of this.
Edge-to-edge cover glass No* Though we really wanted to offer edge-to-edge cover glass, we were not able to get the display panel coating required to enable this option. As such, we’ll have a non-glossy panel with a low-haze anti-glare coating.
Stand rotation adjustment Yes The stand we’re developing for Spectrum will support pivot as well as tilt and height adjust.
Firmware
Open-source firmware Yes* Still checking with manufacturer about the exact options available
Backlight strobing that works in combination with variable overdrive Yes
Backlight strobing that works in combination with variable refresh rate Yes We will have an implementation similar to ASUS ELMB technology
Multiple variable overdrive profiles Yes
Support for storing a 3D LUT calibration profile in firmware Yes* It is possible, but requires flashing the firmware with the updated profile. Like other firmware features, exact details are still being checked with manufacturer.
Other
Ask assistance from respected specialists like TFTcentral for default tuning Yes* Dependent on them being on board, of course. We have been in contact with journalists and influencers specialized in monitor performance and some have expressed interest in working with us to make sure Spectrum looks its best.

How can you help?

At this stage we are working with the manufacturer and suppliers to determine the design’s feasibility, and how certain solutions can actually be implemented. But at the same time we need your input to make sure we are going the right way. Please share your thoughts on the current design direction, and what you think are points for improvement!

22 Likes

This design really sees to be moving towards the final one. Would love if that curve on the back is reduced a little, doesn’t look good; seems too thick, based on the renders.

3 Likes

Love it!

The only slight negative for me is that it will be less easy to access the side ports than I would like (but I can live with that).

Also, one small suggestion: it would be great to have some sort of loop/catch to the rear of the stand’s base such that it can hold any cables en-route from the rear of the monitor, up the stand and through the cable management hole (the route of the orange/brown cable in the diagram and would also probably capture the green cable as well, even though that’s unnecessary).

2 Likes

I’d suggest looking at how LG handles their joystick. The LG 27GL850, which uses the same panel as the Spectrum, combines all three buttons in one. The joystick moves for directional input, click the joystick to enter/exit, the joystick is translucent and optionally lights up for power indication, and it’s also used to turn the display on (click the joystick while it’s off) and off (click the joystick and move up in the quick menu). The joystick is on the bottom edge of the monitor but is recessed in a sort of inverted cone so that it doesn’t stick out from the monitor.

I’m a bit curious about the expected contrast. It’s listed as 1000-1300:1. However, all reviews of monitors using this panel have been roughly in the 700-900 range. How will the Spectrum achieve this higher contrast?

3 Likes

I love it! How much will it cost?

2 Likes

@Guspaz we’ll investigate regarding joystick!

As for the contrast ratio we are using different polarizer treatment and have signed contract with LG where it states this range of the acceptable contrast. But I can’t wait to share a unit to some reputable online review sites!

2 Likes

Looking really good! Regarding the cables getting in the way of the joystick…can you move the joystick down and either push the input button to the side or move it to the bottom by the pwr button?

I don’t want to seem too much of a downer, but I think it is a mistake to try to combine the design language of the Blade and Bloxy concepts.

The curvature of the Blade design gave a distinctive rounded aesthetic:

The simplicity of the stacked Bloxy design, allowed the monitor bulge to become part of the minimalist profile:

By combining the two, you have lost the cohesive rounded aesthetic of the Blade, while also emphasizing the rectangular bulge which was hidden by the Bloxy design:

The net effect is a very generic-looking design that has lost the elegance of the previous concepts.

I would recommend not trying to please everyone, and staying true to either Blade or Bloxy—but not both.

8 Likes

I like what I see developing as it appears to be incorporating the best features. This looks simple, uncomplicated and timeless which equals longevity.

Looks pretty good so far!


Personally, I loved the fact that we could keep our phones on the stationary concept, would it be possible to provide a single ridge instead of the one above?
What do you guys think?

4 Likes

Had to be honest, the side USB A ports are useless. I’d rather stand up and plug a flash drive on the front panel of my PC case than risk hitting the panel while attempting to “pin the donkey’s tail” a USB device. You basically cannot see where the port is and then plugging while your hand is in a awkward position. And then add the usual frustration of trying to fit a USB to a port and then turning it the other way around only to discover that you got it right the first time so you turn it back again.

3 Likes

The side ports look kinda awkwardly placed, I probably won’t be using them frequently. They would be handy for always-plugged-in devices such as mouse, though. Liking the final design, can’t comment much on the usefulness of the stand since I’ll be using a VESA arm.

2 Likes

This is looking very good! Specially the comments regarding higher contrast ratio. 1300:1 typical is very encouraging.

I am also liking the DP output to connect another display, that will simplify my setup greatly!

Questions -

  1. By using the flexibility of USB-C and USB-B inputs… Will they share the downstream USB-A/C ports? Meaning, using downstream ports for keyboard and mouse with upstream ports coming from main PC (usb-b) and laptop (usb-c) ???

  2. Can we link the upstream ports to the inputs? - Meaning DP input on main PC so as to use keyboard and mouse but then setup HDMI input to work with USB-C input coming from laptop and so use keyboard and mouse with laptop? o even better use USB-C input for Video and USB ports like a dock station?!!

  3. Will the Backlight Strobing feature work with Variable Refresh Rates AND Variable Overdrive AT THE SAME TIME?? or is it only two at a time,

Thanks!

1 Like

Nice to see this moving forward!

Some comments:

1 . Is that bottom bezel really needed? I mean, the tiny LED indicator and ON/OFF button is on the bottom, the electronics are on the back, the joystick is also on the back. The only reason to keep that thicker line under the screen is not to fit a small little logo, is it? Is there some other technical issue?

If there isn’t, I’d place the logo on the stand foot, or just leave it on the back, and gift the world with a completely and evenly bezel-less monitor that puts the content floating in front of you and can be put side by side in any position.

2 . The stand does still have the problem that it will not hide the cables and will always look a bit messy. Maybe a “V” shaped section could keep the “edgy” style while hiding the cable. Just a try…

3 . Routing cables under the stand does look neat, I like the idea!

4 . There are some details that still make this look like a clash of two good designs. Like that soft curve of the stand, that is otherwise absent in the rest of the design:

image

I guess that “merging” two designs is really a tough design challenge itself, and usually doesn’t work at all. This seems to be working, but there are still some rough (or rather soft) edges to polish.

5 . I LOVE that it has 90 degrees rotation, although I’m not sure if it’s only clockwise, or also possible to turn it counter-clockwise.

6 .The rest, specs and design wise, is also looking great. I may seem critical but I think this monitor is going to be hard to resist!

9 Likes

Also,

Stand sold separately

I would suggest not to use that expression in any marketing material, ever. It will get a lot of negative comments from reviewers, like it happened to the Surface and its keyboard. Instead, sell the full monitor and say “optionally sold without the stand for a lower price”.

I know it makes no actual difference, but that’s how human minds seem to be working as of now :roll_eyes:
I can already hear them crying that “it would have been nice to have the stand included in the pr…” AAAAAAAAGH.

7 Likes

I’m sad to admit that you have a point, this is probably not the best design route to take.

But I still want them to pull it off.

But you do have a point.

But I still want…

But…

1 Like

I like the overall look of the original Blade the best, including the stand, however as mentioned by others it would do a poor job of hiding cables. I’d make that vertical stand wider and give it a cable channel on the backside to make it possible to route at least 3 cables with them out of sight. The Bloxy stand similarly has issues with the placement of the cable routing hole making it unlikely you’d be keeping the cables out of sight. I would try to maximize the ability to hide the most commonly used cables (say power, video, and USB at a minimum) with a design that matches the design language of the monitor housing itself.

I’ve used monitors that made routing varying degrees of easy or hard. Had an HP LP2475W for years that had well hidden cable routing but it was a pain to route and unnecessarily fiddly. Also used a Dell U2413 until fairly recently that had the Bloxy hole approach and the cables were visible. I think a big enough vertical support with a nice contour – basically a V or C shape with an open back for the cables to be run down and some sort of very simple retaining device – would be perfect.

That being said I am looking to go to a single stand for my two monitors so if I used the Spectrum I probably wouldn’t be using or buying it with the included stand. I just got two of the LG 27GL850s and seem to have won the panel lottery, I’m just trying to find the right dual monitor stand for my needs at this point.

Edit: I have mixed feelings regarding whether the stand should be included or separate as the default configuration. For most of my computer using life I’ve always used the included stand and only now am I looking to go with a multi-monitor stand. From a pricing perspective, if the price is really compelling even with the stand included, then I think you should advertise the monitor as normally including the stand but also offer/mention it can be purchased without to save extra money for those with their own stand/mount solution. It seems likely to me that most of the monitor buying community that are not at the high end are going to be more interested in having a monitor come with a stand.

5 Likes

I agree with all of the above comments about hiding the cables, and cable management issues with rotating.

Would it be possible to plug cables into a square base, as shown in the Bloxy design, instead of plugging them into the back? That way, all cables could be fed straight from the side or the back of the base of the stand, instead of feeding down the back of the neck.
In my head, I’m seeing a mac-mini-style base with ports on the front/side/back, a brace leading upward toward the screen, and a screen with no cable options on the front or back. At that point, it might even be a good idea to put the buttons/joystick on the base, to keep the minimalist functionality.

If rotating the screen is a priority, having the base of the stand house the cable ports could cut down on issues.

How would you be able to use Spectrum without the stand if the ports aren’t on the monitor?

1 Like

I drew up a really quick sketch of what I was generally thinking.
This way, we could rotate the screen without worrying about tangling or pulling the cables.

1 Like