With the finish line drawing ever nearer, we get increased questions about the state of the project and the schedule. And that’s understandable – like you, we are excited to see Spectrum take to the stage and shine! In this progress report, we’ll present some awesome milestones we’ve recently passed. But we’re also introducing some of the bumps we’ve hit along the way and the changes that they have forced to our timeline. All in all, it’s an action-packed update, so let’s get right to it!
Last month, we mentioned new firmware code from our scalar manufacturer to enable HDMI 2.1 functionality. Our team has been hard at work implementing and testing this, and after small adjustments to the motherboard, we’re excited to announce that we were able to run Spectrum at maximum resolution, frame rate, and color depth without having to resort to chroma subsampling or compression! Of course, the new standard also offers other benefits, notably support for variable refresh rates on the latest generation of consoles, and our team is making sure everything works as it is supposed to. Successful testing has been done on the latest GPUs from both NVIDIA and AMD, as well as Xbox Series and PlayStation 5, to ensure compatibility. As hinted at by the continuing lack of HDMI 2.1 monitors on the market, HDMI 2.1 has proved challenging to implement, so we are thrilled to have it working on our device.
Grant having fun with Xbox Series X on Spectrum.
Spectrum running Cold War on PS5 in 4K at 120Hz.
HDMI 2.1 is perhaps the newest port on Spectrum, but USB Type-C offers a unique combination of capabilities that can’t be found in any other port. With the current firmware, a single cable can drive the display, enable its built-in USB hub, output audio over the monitor’s audio jack, and charge the computer at up to 100W. Again, to ensure compatibility in all directions, testing is done with a variety of devices, ranging from a 16-inch MacBook Pro to a prototype of our new V 2-in-1.
Here we have Spectrum, three USB peripherals, and a headphone connected with just one cable. A one-cable solution can look super tidy – if you don’t let Konstantinos manage your cables!
Earlier prototypes required special hardware to update the firmware. After some changes to Spectrum’s motherboard, such workarounds are no longer required: all that is required now to update the firmware is to connect a PC directly to the USB Type-C port. Not only does that make our life easier when updating our prototypes for testing purposes, but it also means end users will be able to update the monitor’s firmware without the need for specialized equipment.
Making sure things work
Most of Spectrum’s functions are currently undergoing quality and reliability engineering (QRE) testing. The goal of this is to ensure that Spectrum complies with various laws and regulations, and that it performs reliably across its life span. In the past, we’ve looked at mechanical and environmental testing of the Spectrum Stand and touched on mechanical and functional testing of the monitor itself. Though a lot of the focus has shifted to electronic and functional testing, the QRE team continues to put Spectrum through its paces, intent on capturing all remaining bugs so we can resolve them before moving to each subsequent stage of production.
Spectrum running off a new V prototype through USB Type-C.
As much as we can learn and improve from our and our manufacturer’s in-house testing, we also rely on third parties to either improve Spectrum or confirm our own findings. At this time, our firmware team is focused on making sure adaptive sync functions up to the high standards set by AMD and NVIDIA. But that’s not the only third-party testing; Spectrum samples will be shipped around the world next week to ensure everything works as it should, including Microsoft’s Xbox division and VESA (in charge of HDR certification). The Blur Busters lab behind the leading website on high-speed monitor performance, has already been sent an updated production sample. They continue to provide us with the valuable council, firmware code, and fine-tuning.
Over the past weeks, we have received a number of applicants for community prototype testing and are in the final stages of choosing our testers. Their units are being produced, and we will be in contact with them soon with more details about the process. As important as it is to have professionals measure, record, and evaluate our production samples, our experiences with the V have taught us that sometimes end users have insights that the pros hadn’t even considered. We rely on those insights to develop the right products, and we’ll continue to rely on them to test our products the right way.
Grant measures the color performance of the latest prototype to check the progress in addition to the planned testing, helping to catch remaining bugs before sending out community test units.
As mentioned earlier, getting HDMI 2.1 to work reliably across a wide range of devices required an adjustment to Spectrum’s motherboard. That would not normally be an issue, but one of the integrated circuits (IC) needed for this adjustment was not part of the original design, and is, like most silicon at the moment, in short supply. We were able to source enough components for testing and prototype development, but the lead time for bulk shipments is such that we will need to push back mass production and adjust our timeline.
The China team is discussing the changes to the motherboard.
For customers who reserved Spectrum and are looking forward to having an awesome new monitor on their desk, the most important detail in all of this is the new shipping date. So in short: based on the sourcing and manufacturing timeline, Spectrum’s 4K model will be shipping on June 29th.
Ahead of that, we will start sending out invitations to complete the orders and balance payment, as described in this topic, on May 12th.
Of course, these changes will also be communicated directly to customers by e-mail, so that they are kept informed.
We have built our first 240Hz Spectrum prototype using the 1440p panel in combination with the 4K model’s latest motherboard, and it lit up without adjustment. For comparison, it took our firmware team a week to get our first 4K prototype to light up. Of course, adjustments will need to be made; as we have mentioned before, most of the development so far should carry over, making this a short development and testing cycle. This prototype will allow us to test what works and what will need tweaks or changes. Shipping for the 240Hz model is now set for July 9th.
The original model, with a 1440p, 144Hz display, will require additional adjustments to the motherboard and housing, and has been moved to the end of Q3. More information about this model will follow later.
In the loop
From all over the world, our team and partners continue to push Spectrum ever closer to your desks, and we’ll keep you in the loop as we go. We’ve recently published an updated FAQ about the product as well as an FAQ about the balance payment process. If you have additional questions, be sure to let us know!