Seiki 39” 4k TV as a Monitor

Those are 22" monitors on either side Keep in mind that this is 2014; this is the first generation of this monitor; that being said:   I would not recommend using this as an all-day development monitor.

The exact item:  Seiki Digital SE39UY04 39-inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz LED TV.   When it dropped to $405 on Amazon, I jumped at the possibility of using it instead of a portrait 1080p as my main coding window.   (Side note: I used CamelCamelCamel to track the price)

It arrived, and it turned out I didn’t have anything that could drive it.  I went out and purchased an NVidia 700-level card which had HDMI 1.4 outputs on it.. hooked it all up.. and..

It is HUGE.

Panoramic View And it is Painful. 

Problem #1: Refresh Rate

I could not tell at first what was “not right” about it.   Eventually, i figured it out – as can be seen from this video:

Low Refresh Rate

As I move a window around on a different monitor, the motion on this monitor lags behind.  It might be due to the refresh rate – or it might be due to some kind of latency – but the effect is about the same as using a PC over a somewhat laggy (100ms?) remote desktop connection.   [Edit – actually, its more like remote desktoping into a machine, and then running a VM which does not have client tools, and then trying to use that VM.  The annoying bit is that I try to move the mouse to a certain spot, but I keep over/undershooting]

The problem is due to HDMI 1.4 only being able to handle a 30hz refresh rate at 4K resolution.   HDMI 2.0 would fix this – but this TV does not support it. (yet?) It looks like DisplayPort would handle it, but the TV did not have a DisplayPort input either.

Problem #2: Sheer Size

I am used to snapping a window to full screen, left, or right.

With the right software (Winsplit Revolution), I can snap a window to various parts of a 6×2 quadrant as well.

Either way, snapping windows on this monitor did not work for me.  The only place which felt “right” was snapped to the middle column in the monitor – everything else was too far away, too high, or too big.  I would have to physically move my keyboard to once side of the monitor or the other, to focus on a window that was snapped there.   (Given, I have progressive lenses, and pretty bad astigmatism; perhaps younger eyes would not be troubled as much)  

Floating Windows in a Desktop SeaInstead, the solution was to revert to non-maximized, non-snapped windows – keep each window as small as you can get away with, and they all just “float” in monitor space.  The monitor truly is big enough for it. 

Problem #3: Bifocal Nightmare

I have bifocals.  Actually, no, I have progressive lenses .. the limit as number of focals approaches infinity.    With my bifocals on, I could NOT crane my neck up high enough to actually focus on the top of the monitor, from a 3 foot distance or so. 

So, I switched to my computer glasses.   Single focal length across the entire frame.   It mostly worked, except.. the left and right sides of the monitor – were far enough away – that if the center was in focus, then they were not.  The monitor really is that big.

Watching 4k Video on YouTube

Wildlife in Ultra 4k – The picture was amazing.

Elysium Trailer – Fail (for me)

Once again, the 30hz made it pretty unbearable.  However, I have this same problem at most movie theaters as well – whenever a camera pans, I can see individual frames, it is not “smooth motion” for me.   I might just be defective.


Don’t buy one … yet.  Not till there’s a way to do 4K at 60Hz into it.  Or if you are going to, first spend a day as follows:

  • Bring your refresh rate on your 1080p monitor down to 30hz, and leave it there for the day.
  • Move your monitor away from your normal line of sight – to about 45 degrees away from where your keyboard and mouse “face”.   [Edit: don’t point it at yourself!   Leave it angled away from your line of sight.]
  • Change all your fonts to be really small.  Really really small. 

If you can live with these things.. or if you have a need to work with really large excel spreadsheets, which this was a BOSS at), then go ahead and buy one.  For $400, its pretty awesome.  

I’ll be shipping it back on Wednesday (after the snow storm).  Back to just 3 monitors for now.. with the middle one in portrait mode.   I’ll live.

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