In my quest to find an external display for my MacBook Pro w/Retina, I came across a lot of reviews online about the option of 4K TV as a monitor. My first thought was negative. A television couldn’t possibly be as sharp and colorful as a real LCD monitor.
I read review after review. I also researched by watching Youtube videos that were quite informative. A 39 inch display is very tempting because of the screen real estate. The size alone would benefit anyone that depends on productivity. After all of my researching efforts, I decided against the Apple Thunderbolt Display. I also decided against the Samsung 27 inch and an Asus 27 inch display. The size, price, and resolution attracted me to the Seiki.
4K Display for Photographers
Out of all the researching I did, I only found a couple of photographers using this display. Very little information was put out about sharpness and color accuracy. For that reason, I knew I was taking a risk in this display/TV. If this thing did not workout well for a photographer’s display, then at least I would have a 4K TV in the house. After a shipping nightmare, I was finally looking at this massive, potential MacBook Pro accessory. Due to the shipping nightmare, there is still a 4K TV lost out there somewhere. After getting the TV out of the box, it was easily assembled and placed on my desk. This is the point where all the frustrations that I read about in my research begins.
The Frustrations of this 4K TV
The first thing that I dealt with was the firmware update that was talked about in many reviews. There were many complaints of video lag and spastic behavior when switching inputs. I did not bother to test the current firmware. I immediately downloaded the firmware. The only trouble I had with the install is not knowing which USB port to use on the TV. After loading the firmware on a USB-drive, I inserted it in the first port I found. This happened to be USB port 2. Nothing happened when going to maintenance mode. For the firmware update, USB port 1 needs to be used.
According to different reviews, the MacBook Pro Early 2013 does not render 4K resolution from the HDMI port. I just found out that it does. Because of the review I read, I purchased the Accell B8086-006B Ultra AV mini display port 1.1 to HDMI 1.4 adapter. This connection works fine. The HDMI port works fine also.
Because of the limitation of this TV, video can be a little off. Anything above 30fps will show dropped frames or stutter. Overall, I was impressed the true 4K content that I was able to find online.
Okay, lets get to the reason I purchased this TV. Instead of a multi-display desk setup, one huge display is what I had in mind. I could edit my imagines at the huge resolution of 3840 x 2160. This goes well with the large images from my Nikon D800. Another issue I anticipated because of my research is color reproduction. To get as close to the accuracy needed to edit large images, I also purchased a Datacolor Spyder 4 Pro. This was a life saver. I can see the weird color from the first image I opened in Lightroom. These crazy colors worried me! Seiki is also very aggressive with the sharpness. I had to turn the sharpness all the way to zero for correct sharpness. After messing around with the picture settings, I began the calibration. When calibrated, this TV was transformed into my new MacBook Pro external display. The color differences were amazing. Display calibration is extremely important with this display. Brightness needed to be toned down a little as well. Below is a list of the settings that I used to fine tune the display.
Due to the newness of such a low price 4K TV, this was an option that I took a huge risk with. No one really talked about photography in their reviews, so this made it riskier. After dealing with the shipping nightmare and other minor issues that could have been major, this TV turned out to be a solid choice for a monitor. As for 4K content, it is still new technology and has not become a main stream consumer option. Many movies are shot in 4K or even 5K, but compressed when delivered to the consumer. The Seiki is currently limited to 30Hz and will make some video content look bad. I was impressed with the 4K content I have watched so far. This 4K TV makes a great monitor after calibration!
Contrast - 38
Brightness - 52
Color - 29
Sharpness - 0
Color Temp. - Normal
Blue Screen - on
Backlight - 98