What is a good 32-inch 4K monitor?

Five years ago I purchased two Samsung 32-inch 4K computer monitors for $1300 each. These UD970s boasted “99.5% Adobe RGB and 100% sRGB Color Compliance”, which I thought would make them good for editing photos. They’re also reasonably bright, at 350 nits. Unfortunately, one now has a vertical line permanently stuck to cyan, about 1/3rd of the way in from the left. The other one has a flaky power supply and turns itself on and off at random.

I can’t go with a fashionable curved monitor because I had a treadmill next to a chair and, in theory, want to be able to drive setup from either the left or right side of the desk. So it needs to be a primary and secondary monitor of roughly 32″ in size.

One thing that might be interesting is a monitor with built-in speakers so that I can clear the speakers and amp (optical digital in to speaker-level out) off my desk. It is rare that I listen to anything where high sound quality is required.

Here are some ideas, based on Amazon ranking:

  • LG 32UN500-W (includes built-in speakers), VA panel rather than IPS, $350 (“Amazon’s Choice” but maybe that is based on gaming performance and I am not planning to game). 350 nits. No USB ports! In a world where everyone needs a webcam for Zoom-during-lockdown, how does it make sense to exclude the USB hub function from the monitor?
  • Samsung LS32AM702UNXZA (built-in speakers), which has “Wireless DeX” that promises “a full PC experience, without any PC” (put phone applications on the big screen), $400; see “Mobile Phone As Home Computer” (2005) for why this is close to my personal dream. Possible deal-killer: only 250 nits (also a VA panel). Three USB-A ports and one USB-C for keeping the desktop clutter-free.
  • LG 32UN650-W (built-in speakers), IPS panel, no USB. $500.
  • LG 32UN880-B (built-in speakers), IPS panel. $650. Comes with an “ergo stand” that clamps to the back of the desk, thus freeing up desk space for additional clutter. Has a handful of USB-A and USB-C connectors on the back.

After I get at least one new one, I could maybe have some fun with the kids trying to assemble a single working Samsung out of the two broken ones (panel from one and power supply, etc., from the other?).

Here’s a question for genius readers? Why aren’t there OLED computer monitors? Problems with burn-in, you say? You’d have pixels burned to standard user interface elements? What if the monitor were 10 percent oversized horizontally and vertically? Have the 4K image slowly float among the corners, which would ensure that the pixels along the edges got some completely dark time. (LG already seems to do a weak version of this with its OLED TVs; they call it Screen Shift.) What about central pixels? Have the monitor and/or video card watch for extended periods of constant illumination (maybe it would be white since so many documents have white backgrounds) and do some selective dimming as necessary.

The LG “Ergo: design”:

Update: It wouldn’t have been simple to mount the Ergo on my particular desk, so I got the LG 32UN650-W (a $500 IPS monitor). The built-in speakers far exceeded my expectations… for tinniness. They are unusable for music, YouTube sound tracks, etc. I guess they’re a good emergency backup in case my external amp (Nuforce DIA, purchased in 2012 and now discontinued) or Audioengine P4 speakers fail and I need to be on a Zoom call. I never calibrated the Samsung monitor (the one that still works, but has a stuck line), but photos appear brighter and bluer on it. Comparing to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, on which the photos originated, the LG is a little closer.

7 thoughts on “What is a good 32-inch 4K monitor?

  1. The Dell Ultrasharp line is well regarded. They often have the same panels as Dell’s lower tier monitors, but product support is much better, with less tolerance for defects.

    Much of the added expense on monitors is linked to what we call “trim” in buying cars — the underlying frame and power train is the same on the luxury touring Honda Odyssey as on the base model.

    $1000 is probably your price point. Spend less and you won’t get the quality control and calibration options you want — spend more and you will not notice the difference in image quality to justify the expense.

    Apple no longer sells monitors, but they made very good ones. I have a 10 year old HP business monitor that is still in productive use. HP makes monitors that might be worth considering, but their website is terrible.

  2. Avoid VA & TN panels at all costs, but LG’s low end IPS offerings still have a recessed backlight which creates soft edges. Unfortunately, a 4k 32″ as good as a 30″ 13 years ago still costs what a 30″ was 13 years ago. $150 for a stand is a bit much when the 26lb Ergear is under $30.

    Unless homeowners are really struggling for space, just get a 40″ TV for a lot less money.

  3. I wish I could tell you, but I am only up to a 27″ (Sceptre 4K — apparently discontinued for being too affordable?), but I will say that none of the ones I have tried to date have decent speakers. However, a 2014 27″ iMac (with tiny speakers) sounds reasonable. I finally got out my 1987 Bose Roommate speakers from the basement and mounted them on their support arms. They still sound great. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1985-01-13-8501030376-story.html
    As far as the ergonomic support arm: Wang patented one of those in the mid-1980s :-> https://uspto.report/patent/grant/4703909

  4. Note how the LG publicity shot studiously avoids depicting the rat’s net of wires (they usually connect to the monitor itself, not the stand). It’s a good thing DisplayPort cables are thinner and more flexible than the VGA or DVI boa constrictors of yore, but power cables are still thick and power bricks still ungainly.

    5 years ago I splurged $1700 on a NEC PA302W 30″ monitor (on sale at B&H from the regular list price of $3000 IIRC). It replaced an HP LP3065 with a CCFL (fluorescent tube) backlight that had gone bad after 5 years, out of warranty (HP’s warranty on professional monitors is excellent, they come on-site to fix them).

    The NEC is still going strong, thanks to LED backlighting, it has hardware LUT and calibration, which means more accurate and consistent color. If you are still into photography, a good monitor is basically the same price as a medium-priced professional zoom lens, and to correctly evaluate your photos, far more essential. The only ones I’d consider are the hardware-calibrated models by NEC and Eizo, or the Dreamcolor series by HP.

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