Size really does matter when you are working in front of a Mac all day – so are Apple working on the next incarnation of the Studio Display?
The eyes have it
Without my Studio Display, my days would be immeasurably harder.
Last year turned out to be a busy year for me adding to my collection of Apple gear, and one of the devices that I use the most, is the Studio Display. The thing is, with a display, you almost forget about it. It’s odd, it’s the most visible thing, yet almost invisible. It does its job so well, that I almost forget that it’s there, and look straight through it.
I decided to make my primary workstation a laptop for the first time last year, moving away from iMacs for the first time. I deliberated over it, but it’s turned out to be the best thing I could’ve done. Being able to have all relevant, recent projects locally, and now being mobile, has been a blessing. No more waiting for a cloud sync to update – wherever I want to work from, home, or the studio space, I’m good to go.
Real estate required
With the nature of the creative work I do, a large display is essential.
Moving to a 16” MacBook Pro was all well and good, but I just knew, as good as the gorgeous Liquid Retina Display is on that Mac, it was still only 16-inches. My eyes are tired enough at the end of a day, without working on a smaller display.
I was going to need real estate – I’d been used to the 27-inch iMac for so long, that I’d become accustomed to it – spoiled by it, even. So, I plumped for the Studio Display to be the MBP’s daily partner in crime.
I got lucky
Whenever I write, or make videos about this display, I’ll always get questions, asking if I’ve had niggles, such as whining, or buzzing. Honestly, as hard as this screen works, touch-wood, I’ve had no problems whatsoever. It’s performed faultlessly.
I don’t notice the lack of ProMotion when I am working on it side-by-side with the MacBook Pro. I have a theory about that, actually – it seems to make more of a difference on the smaller, more condensed displays. If I look at a phone, that isn’t ProMotion, it’s noticeable almost immediately. But, to me, the larger the screen gets, the less noticeable ProMotion becomes.
The Studio Display is bright, punchy, quiet, and vivid. It’s colour accurate for my workflows – whether that’s design, or video editing.
The in-built camera has been improved in recent updates, although I’ve never used it. As I do, so many online recordings, be that interviews, or podcasts, having a decent camera has always been a priority.
My camera choice has changed over time – when I first bought the display, I opted to for a Logitech 4K camera. That then got swapped out when Apple brought out the Continuity Camera feature. Now, I’ve finally joined the ‘big-boys’, so I hook up my Canon and use that instead – and as you can see, the results are great.
The only bugbear I have, is that bloody cable! Why, oh why, the engineers at Apple decided to make it non-removable is beyond me. I don’t move it from my home studio that often, but when I do, it’s such a ball-ache. I don’t have much space behind my custom-made desk in there, and I can barely get the plug through. First world problems, I know, but if the cable could be pulled out, such as it can on the iMac’s – that problem would be no more.
So, happy as I am with my Studio Display, I’m always keen to learn what could be coming downstream.
With Apple now being back in the display arena, there are stories that we could be seeing a new display added to their lineup this year – and these rumours are coming from the highly reputable, Ross Young. He has been busy tweeting recently, that we are due to see a third Apple display this year. That’s right, this new display won’t replace the current Studio Display, but rather be in addition to it. And, even more exciting is the news that it promises to be feature packed too.
The display that Young is anticipating should still be with us this year, will slot in somewhere between the $1599 panel I have, and the $4999 Pro Display XDR panel. Although there have recently been supply chain issues, one could imagine this new display being unveiled alongside the Mac Pro, which is still scheduled for delivery this year too.
Exact details remain scant, but it would appear that this latest display, will be similar in design to the Studio Display, rather than the Pro Display, but with more goodies than are currently offered.
Apple has decided to retain the 27-inch size for the new panel, leaving an obvious distinction between this new display, and the 32-inch Pro Display.
Crucially, though, it will be the first of Apple’s displays, that will utilise mini-LED technology. iPad Pro was the first device that Apple offered with mini-LED, and they have since gone on to use it in both the 14-inch, and 16-inch MacBook Pros.
If the new panel does use mini-LED, it will then give the company a chance to position the panel as being ideal for creatives with a colour critical workflow. This technology offers greater clarity, richer, more dense blacks, and better contrast. This technology alone, will also help Apple to explain away, why a panel of the same size as the current Studio Display, is pricier.
I’d imagine it likely that ProMotion will also come to this panel, as another unique feature among Apple’s current display lineup.
One other question that often pops-up when I write about the Studio Display, is that of being able to add additional displays, and work in a multi-display environment.
Being at a higher price-point, should give Apple the option to make all the ports Thunderbolt. Currently, of the four-ports on my display, only one is Thunderbolt, whilst the other three are only downstream USB-C ports, suitable for connecting peripherals etc.
There’s really no need to bother changing the chip for anything newer, either. The A13 Bionic chip is really only there to enable the display to receive firmware & software updates, so it more than good enough for those tasks.
On this new display, let’s hope that a better, newer, and improved camera module makes its way to the panel. I’d guess there would be little change to the audio set-up, though, which is more than good enough for a desk display.
Two other wishes I’d have for this latest panel would be that the fully adjustable stand, and anti-reflective glass are both made standard this time around. The fact that on my display, the height adjustable stand is a $400 option, frankly, is a disgrace.
Finally, Apple…please, PLEASE make the cable detachable this time! Not only does it make it more user-friendly, but would also make the panel more sustainable too. Fingers crossed they listen to the voices…
Due to the concerted, collective efforts currently being thrown at the headset, we are not expecting too much in the way of innovation this year.
The Mac Pro, is due, and a new, feature-packed panel to offer along with it, would seem a marketing dream opportunity, too good to miss.
In essence, the hard work has already been done by the Studio Display – so a little tweak, and a few simple improvements, could be the shot in the arm that the new display would need.
No need to re-invent the wheel, just this time, remember, to make that power cord removable!
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