Sharp PN-K321 32-Inch Ultra HD Monitor Review: More 4K!

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Ultra HD – Still A High-End Proposition

After more than a year, can we say that Ultra HD has progressed towards becoming a desktop standard? At this point in time, the answer is no. With most users looking to spend under $400 for a monitor, even the least-expensive 4K models won’t fit the average budget.

At the high end, we still have the IGZO triplets from Asus, Dell and Sharp. They are unchanged from a year ago, which is why today’s review of the PN-K321 is still relevant. Measuring 31.5 inches diagonal, their screen size is the ideal one given the current state of Windows font and icon scaling.

Moving to the opposite end of the pricing spectrum, we have the 28-inch models all based on the same TN panel from Chi Mei Optoelectronics. While their price point is under $500, you give up some off-axis image quality and a precious four inches of diagonal screen size.

In the middle are the 24-inch IPS screens. We’ve seen one from Dell, the UP2414Q, and another is currently in our labs, NEC’s EA244UHD. Both are wide-gamut displays aimed at professional users and cost at least $1000. While they offer great performance, their small size makes Windows a challenge to use.

So even though a little progress has been made with the introduction of $500 28-inch UHD monitors, the ideal product has yet to materialize. If you simply must have a 4K screen, you have two major considerations: screen size and color gamut.

To make the best use of an eight-megapixel display, the 32-inch format is a must. If you also need the wide gamut, your search begins and ends with Dell's UP3214Q. For those satisfied with sRGB, it comes down to Asus and Sharp.

As we’ve discovered, the two monitors are physically identical right down to their OSDs. Performance-wise, they are neck-and-neck in almost every test. Notable differences are that the Sharp has the upper hand in uncalibrated contrast and 10-percent-greater brightness. That could be a deciding factor for users needing to use the monitor outdoors on location. Asus wins the input lag test by a nose and that could be a deciding factor for gamers looking to play at 4K resolution.

The final comparison is, of course, price. All three IGZO monitors started their lives selling for around $3500. The Asus and Dell screens have dropped to less than $2400, while Sharp maintains a price point just over $3000. That’s a tough variable to overlook, especially when Dell offers the additional attraction of a wide-gamut option.

At this point, we can only speculate that Sharp and its competitors are working on the next-generation Ultra HD displays. They know that market acceptance will only happen when the price comes down. With the steadily dropping cost of high-performance graphics boards, it’s becoming easier to put enough horsepower in a mid-priced gaming rig to drive eight megapixels at decent frame rates.

There’s no question that we like the PN-K321. It performs well and its image is stunning. The jumbo screen makes Windows perfectly usable and we’d have no problem working with it on a daily basis. Our biggest beef is the price. Whether that will fall for this model or a future one remains to be seen. Other than that, we have no reservations about putting this Sharp on our recommended list.

Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.

  • cknobman
    Over $3000


    Get this BS under $1000 or dont even release it.
  • Kridian
    Yep, they're out of their GD minds!
  • 10tacle
    I'd start *thinking* about buying one of these at a $1500 price point, get more serious at a $1200 price point, and pull the trigger at a $1000 price point...AND when it's a 120Hz panel.
  • InvalidError
    14481231 said:
    Over $3000


    Get this BS under $1000 or dont even release it.
    Give it some time. Display manufacturers like gouging fat wallets while they can to recover some of their R&D costs while production volumes are still low and their products are still different enough to justify higher margins over models aiming for the bargain basement.
  • loki1944
    Maybe by the time single GPUs can run games at 60fps on 4K prices will be reasonable, because right now holy cow. Sticking with my 1080p and 1440p monitors for now.
  • NightshadeRC
    I got 2 of the Samsung 4k 60hz monitors about 3 months ago and they were only $349 each. Much better than the 1080p for $150-$200 and 1440p was another couple of hundred more (in Australia, tech tends to cost a bit more).
    It's won't be long before 4k TN gets more popular
  • jfkeenan
    Cost is one thing, but why aren't they using HDMI 2.0? My GTX 980 is begging for a 4K 60hz monitor.
  • rantoc
    Got an Dell 3214 and the "split screen" (many don't know this fact about the current 4k 1.2 DP driven displays running at 60hz but in order for DP1.2 to show 4k @ 60 hz the screen is virtually split into two screens over the interface and then combined) issue, many have all kind problems with this including only picture on one screen, different resolutions on one half or all kind of wake from sleep issues.

    My advice - Wait for DP1.3 that can handle 4k@60hz properly before considering an 4k screen and that is a shame - the resolution and picture clarity on the Dell UP3214Q is an enormous breakthrough - The issues however are so severe i'm not even using it! So much for a 2000$ monitor =/
  • beetlejuicegr
    I want a 24inch 4k display at 300$. Till then not buying! ^^
  • cypeq
    That's TV not monitor my TV is this big.