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Studio Display & MacBook Pro – a match made in heaven

the MacBook Pro and Studio display are perfect partners

Studio Display & MacBook Pro from Apple

You can have fish without chips, but who would? You could have gin without tonic, but it’s unthinkable. You could have jam on a scone without cream. You get my point, just because you can opt to have one of them without the other, does not mean you should. And so is true of the M1 MacBook Pro and the Studio Display.

In the beginning

In November 2021, when the new MacBooks were released, we were all astounded by what Apple had achieved with the M1 chip and the new iterations – namely the Pro & Max versions of the SOC processor. As standalone machines, there were fantastic. I have one sitting in front of me right now, that I am working on, and we are left wanting for nothing. Thunderbolt ports, an SD card slot, MagSafe charging and an HDMI port should you need it too. Hours of battery life on hand at all times, and the most gorgeous keyboard as well. Then the screen, oh boy, this screen is something else, more of which in a bit. But that was only half the story, as it turns out.

Fleshing up the bones

So, we all got busy with our day-to-day business and using the MacBooks to create whatever is our chosen challenge. The choice of either 14” or 16” covered all needs, budgets, and requirements. I know many picked the 14” as it was a little lighter and more portable. I selected the larger brother to get the biggest screen, and still be mobile if I wanted. I wrote at length last week about how the screen plays tricks on you. It is only a 16” laptop, yet it feels large enough to create and edit with. Even on complicated workflows, such as multi-layered Photoshop documents, or the timeline in Premiere Pro, you don’t feel cramped. The mini-LED panel sucks you in, and working on it is a total buzz. We had, all we needed…or, did we?

Welcome to the studio display

And so to March this year, and the Peek Performance event. The big star, on that spring day, was the Mac Studio with the newest of the M1 chips – the Ultra. But, it’s what came along with the Mac Studio that interested me the most – the Studio Display. By March, I knew I was going to buy a Mac. I had pretty much narrowed it down to the 16” MacBook for a host of reasons, but kept on wondering if the smaller display would be a mistake, in the long term. Then hey-presto, my dreams were answered, and I could now have the best of both worlds. My decision had been made for me…the MacBook Pro and Display were now in the basket, and I was a happy little creator.

The reality

My Mac actually arrived about 10 days before the display, and I was loving what I was getting from it too. Then, last weekend, my Studio Display turned up. I had to be patient and not open it straight away, as I wanted to cover it on a video – too good a chance to miss, eh! I know, I know…

I hooked it up for the first time, mid-shooting a video. I immediately liked what I was seeing, but, understandably, my attention was diverted, as I had the video to shoot, edit and upload. It was only after my work that day was done, I began to sit back and take heed.

The winner is

We, the user and consumer, are the winners, no doubt about that. As you can see, I don’t have the MacBook in clamshell mode. Hell no. It is far too gorgeous for that. I have them sitting side-by-side, working in a dual monitor set-up. It is the most productive I have ever felt. I took my studio apart on Sunday to rearrange how it all would sit – I hate clutter, and love a tidy work environment. I thought I knew retina screens, as I have only worked on Macs now for a decade or longer, but these two panels have taken it to a whole new level.

The Studio Display was actually made with the Mac Studio in mind, as we all know. But the MacBook Pro and Studio Display are not too shabby together, I tell you.

It’s a close call

Having had time to reflect now, there is a winner on overall quality of display, and it is marginally the MacBook. The blacks are blacker, the colours richer and everything just that bit more vibrant. I am splitting hairs, I promise you, but I wanted to give you the most honest appraisal I could. Look, you could, and will, work very happily on either bit of kit. If you want to be mobile and create, trust me, nothing is holding you back. You will not be substituting quality for mobility. But, on the days you need to be desk-based, then this Studio Display is stunning. To be able to flip-flop between the two is – well, words fail me. My work and creativity has risen to a whole new level, with these two latest additions to my Apple ecosystem. They don’t come cheap, but I intend to make them earn their keep and start paying me back from the get go.

When I edited my first video on this kit, I took advantage of the extra real-estate on the Studio Display, but once I was colour grading, I then checked the output on both screens. That was so cool! I picked up minor nuances that I would have missed before. I have not been happier with the colour on any video. I am liking what I am seeing.

The future looks colourful!

Originally published at https://www.talkingtechandaudio.com/blog on May 17th, 2022.

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