This post is going to be about ports! after this we will have enough of an idea of what we’re making to start working on the product’s industrial design (ID)!
In the meantime we are testing panel samples and we will get back to you with the results shortly!
Ports are part of our DNA The V had lots of ports which helped to set it apart from the competition, and Project: Spectrum should be no different. Or should it? Let’s find out in this topic!
|-||port||signal||resolution/refresh rate||feature support|
|VGA||analogue||1920x1080 at 85Hz||-|
|Dual-Link DVI-D||digital||1920x1080 at 144Hz, 2560x1440 at 75Hz||-|
|HDMI 2.0a||digital||3840x2160 at 60Hz||audio, HDR|
|DisplayPort 1.4||digital||3840x2160 at 120Hz||audio, HDR, adaptive sync|
|USB Type-C||digital||3840x2160 at 30Hz (HDMI alternative mode) or 3840x2160 at 120Hz (DisplayPort alternative mode)||audio, USB-PD power delivery|
Backgrounds and considerations
VGA has been around for decades, and because it’s commonly found on older projectors and displays it can still be found on some modern computers for reasons of compatibility. Its resolution support is limited, and because it’s an analog connection there is a loss of image quality both in converting the digital signal from your computer and in the transfer. Since we want users to actually be able to enjoy the full quality of the display panel, we feel that VGA is not suitable for our monitor.
DVI has also been around for a long time, and though it has replaced the VGA port as the go-to connector for monitors long ago, it too is now slowly dying out in favor of HDMI and DisplayPort. Though there are a number of varieties to DVI, the one that is relevant to us is Dual-Link DVI-D, the digital variant capable of higher resolutions. It is still a very common port on computers, so if we opt for a Quad-HD (2560x1440) panel it may be a suitable port for our needs, though even then it would not lend itself to high-refresh rate gaming.
HDMI is the modern standard for transferring a digital image signal between computers, consoles, set-top boxes and TVs. Being able to deliver both a video and an audio signal makes it a one-stop solution for connecting multimedia devices. Though it is fine for most resolutions, its focus on film and TV means that high refresh rates aren’t supported. It is the ideal port for connecting your computer to a TV rather than a monitor, but because of that it is still a very common port found on many modern computers.
DisplayPort was designed to supersede DVI as the new modern standard for monitors. And as such, it can handle just about any use case you can throw at it. High resolutions? High refresh rates? Audio signals? DisplayPort can do it. Features like HDR, adaptive sync, or daisy-chaining multiple monitors on a single cable? DisplayPort again. Because it’s aimed specifically at monitors and not at multimedia devices in general, it’s taken a while to become as wide-spread as HDMI. So you’ll mostly find it on modern computers, but when it’s there, it’s the port of choice!
USB Type-C can be used to carry protocols other than USB. Thunderbolt 3 has been a popular example of adding functionality to the port, and another useful feature are alternative modes. Through these, a USB Type-C port can output a DisplayPort, HDMI, or other signal. On devices with limited space, having this versatile, reversible port allows you to connect a variety of peripherals. And for some time, that was done mostly through port adapters (the dreaded ‘dongles’). USB-C has been appearing more and more on monitors, allowing you to connect computers with video output over USB Type-C directly to the display. And because USB-C can also transmit audio and power, your screen could charge your laptop with the same single cable through which it receives its image signal.
Time to plug in our monitor!
What ports do you think should be on Project: Spectrum?
- Dual-Link DVI-D
- USB Type-C
If you picked USB Type-C, what features should it support?
- USB-PD to power the monitor using the computer
- USB-PD to power the computer using the monitor
- USB HDMI Alternate Mode to carry an HDMI signal
- USB DisplayPort Alternate Mode to carry a DisplayPort signal
Not all about graphics
Obviously, the image signal connectors are the most important ones on a monitor, as without them it couldn’t actually do its primary job as a display. But some monitors offer additional ports, like a built-in USB hub.
Instead of digging around the back of a computer case that might be out of reach, USB ports on the side or back of the screen allow for quickly plugging in a temporary device like a USB thumb drive. Some may connect their keyboard, mouse, and other accessories to the monitor so that only a single cable has to be run between the monitor and computer, keeping a cleaner desk.
When considering these features, keep in mind that things like a built-in USB hub generally require an additional USB cable to be run to the computer alongside the image signal cable.
- I don’t care about extra features, just get me a good display
- I want a hub with just USB Type-A built into my monitor
- I want a hub with just USB Type-C built into my monitor
- I want a hub with both USB Type-A and Type-C built into my monitor
- I want an SD card reader built into my monitor
- I want a 1Gb network port built into my monitor
- I want something else built into my monitor, I will leave comment