Dell's new LCD monitor to be start of 5K resolution revolution?

The forthcoming UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K and new DisplayPort 1.3 technology will push computer displays past 4K.

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We've barely wrapped our heads about the concept of 4K -- double the resolution of 1080p HD -- but that hasn't stopped the display industry from forging ahead to 5K. With the forthcoming UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K, Dell is kicking off the 5K resolution revolution if you're in the market for a real expensive Christmas present.

The 27-inch monitor has a resolution of 5,120×2,880, which works out to about seven times the number of pixels in an equivalently sized 1080p display. It's also a few million more pixels than a 4K monitor sports. The UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K comes with features like Dell PremierColor calibration, a half-dozen USB ports, and a pair of built-in 16-watt Harmon Kardon speakers. As the photos above show, the monitor can also pivot to portrait mode if your viewing needs require it.

You might be wondering not only if people need a 5K monitor, but also how Dell was able to get that resolution into a 27-inch screen. ExtremeTech speculates that rather than using a single pane, the UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K is a pair of smaller displays tiled together. If so, it may require a pair of DisplayPort 1.2 connectors using Multi-Stream Transport (MST) technology. Whether that turns out to be the case or not, the monitor doesn't come cheap: It's expected to run around $2,500 when it supposedly becomes available in December.

Speaking of DisplayPort, the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has announced DisplayPort 1.3, which will provide a 50-percent increase in bandwidth. That boost will make it possible to support 5K displays using a single cable, or a couple of 4K monitors that can be paired using the MST feature.

The next bit of 5K news could come from Apple, which is rumored to be working on an iMac with a 27-inch screen with that resolution. A Korean-based research firm predicts the 5K iMac could be launched by the end of the year, like the UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K. If that's the case, it could use the same tiled screen approach that Dell has taken. But as with many Apple rumors, this one should be taken with a pixel of salt, though the next version of OS X, Yosemite, apparently supports resolutions even beyond 5K.