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Sharp revealed prototype 27-inch monitor with 8K resolution at CEATEC Japan

This week during the CEATEC Japan 2016 convention, Sharp Corporation revealed a number of products to visitors wandering into its booth including smart appliances with cloud-connected artificial intelligence, the RoBoHon robotic mobile phone, and a 27-inch monitor with an 8K resolution. Yes, folks, we’re now seeing even greater resolutions trickle into the computing market. However, don’t fret if you have yet to purchase a 4K TV — it may be a while before 8K monitors become affordable to the general consumer.

Japanese website PC Watch actually checked out Sharp’s ultrasharp monitor this week, which is a mere prototype right now that’s based on IGZO technology. The details are rather thin, but the report states that the monitor has a brightness of 1,000 nits, High Dynamic Range (HDR) support, and an 8K resolution capability at 120Hz. It displayed a computer-generated video at a 7,680-by-4,320 resolution for all to drool over.

IGZO is a semiconducting material composed of indium, gallium, zinc, and oxygen. It was first incorporated into flat-panel displays in 2003 and then adopted by Sharp in 2012 for monitors, smartphones, tablets, and so on. The technology is unique in that it doesn’t consistently flash successive images each second, but will present a static image if there’s no action on the screen. This helps reduce power consumption and is easier on the eyes.

IGZO technology can be used on different display types including TN, IPS, and OLED. If you’re not familiar with these terms, Twisted Nematic (TN) is older LCD display technology that provides extremely small response times,  a high brightness, and consumes less power than competing panel types. In-Plane Switching (IPS) is newer LCD technology that provides richer color and better viewing angles.

However, OLED is a completely different display family that lights up colors by shooting electricity through specific materials. By comparison, LCD uses color filters and liquid crystals, the latter of which will block the source of light shining underneath. Thus, IGZO is thin-film transistor “backplane” technology for LCD and OLED panels that turns individual pixels on and off. IGZO relies on extremely small transistors, enabling higher pixel densities, very low power consumption, and thin form factors.

As for Sharp’s prototype, this technology helps enable a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, adding up to more than 33 million pixels crammed into a 27-inch form factor. On the connectivity front, the report doesn’t say what the prototype currently supports, but an image shows a large number of connected cables on the back. Sharp is apparently aiming for a form factor that doesn’t use a stand.

Finally, as for pricing, that’s unknown although Sharp indicated that it will be “considerable.” The final product will likely aim at businesses first until the pricing of the underlying technology falls and Sharp can make it an affordable 8K solution for the masses.