I think I may officially be in love with the Apple Studio Display
Ok, so I may not be the first to the party, but over the last few weeks, I have been bringing my Apple game up to date. AirPod Pro (loving the ANC), 16” M1 Max MacBook Pro (everything you’ve ever heard about it is true), and now, the Apple Studio Display. Expensive, yes, but has it hit the spot?
An odd way to get it
Before I get into the meat of the blog, and telling you about my experiences with the display, first, the conundrum about how I actually got my display. I had placed my order at the end of March. An expected date of mid-July had been promised. Last week, my wonderful viewers on my YouTube channel, made a suggestion that I look around at some UK third-party retailers. I had checked Amazon and Ebay, with no joy, but had not thought of vendors. Well, sure enough, they were correct. I found a Studio Display, for next-day delivery, with a company called Very. It was almost too easy, but sure enough, after a wasted month of waiting, it arrived the next day. Here is the odd thing though, the despatch paperwork told me it was sent direct from Apple! Now, explain that to me!
All very Apple
On arrival, it is typical Apple. The clam-shell boxes they are now using are just spectacular in their engineering. It sets the scene perfectly for you, of what’s to come. Inside, you don’t get much. By not much, I mean the monitor and the thunderbolt cable! If you have a 27” iMac, then it weighs roughly the same as that, but sits a little lower on the desk. The build quality feels premium, as you’d expect. It’s the ‘Apple’ brushed aluminium finish all over, with a simple, large black logo on the back. The power cable is, oddly and inexplicably, non-detachable. Just make sure not to let your dog chomp through it, or else you’ll be minus the display while Apple fixes it!
Could not be simpler or quicker. Out of the box, pull off a few protective layers and attach the supplied USB-C thunderbolt cable. One thing I will say is, that for £1500, the 1-metre length is a little on the stingy side. Laughingly, you can now buy either a 1.8m or 3m cable now, if you’d prefer, but for that, you’ll be asked to hand-over £129 or £159! C’mon Apple… I love you as much as the next, but a 1m cable is woeful. That to one side, you are done and ready to go. You have no more setting-up to do. And don’t forget, the (short) thunderbolt cable will also charge your MacBook too, so fewer cables on view. And no, I don’t have OCD issues… I just like a clean desk, OK! One last mention of the cables, both the thunderbolt & power cable, they are now a cloth, braided affair. Again, attention to detail is amazing. Again, all adds to that premium feel.
What we came here for
The panel is a 27” 5K display with a 5120×2880 resolution at 218 pixels per inch. It’s bright too, at 600 nits, with True Tone technology and support for 1 billion colours. When I first set it down on my desk, it was against a 27” iMac, and I tell you no lies, it made that look poor. It is probably the best, most colour accurate monitor I have worked on. Until last week, that would have been the end of that statement, but the display on the MacBook just beats it….just! The blacks are a little denser, and the colours a shade more vibrant, but I am being both spoiled and picky too! The Studio Display is beautiful from every angle of viewing. I can see not flat spots or dead cells. Edge to edge, it delivers in the spade load.
What we didn’t come here for
The camera. It is terrible! Honestly, don’t use it. I A/B’d it with my Logitech C920P 1080P, 30fps, HD camera, which cost all of £65, and it beat it hands down. OK, I did not buy the monitor for the webcam, but here is my point. If you are going to have one come with it, make it good, or just don’t bother. It ruins the user experience and dents the premium air to the package. It was the first time I had seen Centre Stage in action, which, admittedly, is very clever. But, I’ll never use it! On my test, the camera seems to be at an awkward height and made me look plastic and orange. It was that bad, I really cannot do it justice. Just buy your own camera would be my advice.
Audio & content consumption
Audio is a different story altogether, though. You have a six-speaker system here, and it sounds it, too. The soundstage is fairly comprehensive and if you are looking for comfortable, day-long listening, these will deliver. Not overly bass-heavy, crisp and present, would be the easiest, non-audiophile way of describing the experience. For you guys, I listened to some Kendrick Lamar to check out Spatial Audio. Barely perceivable if I am honest. There was some head-tracking, but not that you’d notice. It was far better, as, perhaps, you’d expect, with AirPod Pro. Watching Apple TV on this panel, or YouTube, was probably about as good-a visual experience that I have had. It is better than my Apple TV….and that is GOOD! Again, depending on your desk set-up, you may find the monitor sits a little low, it is lower than the iMac for instance. As much as it truly hurts me to say this, if you are working on a standard desk, the £400 upgrade for the tilt and height adjustable stand, may be worth it. Sorry!
One of your four ports is taken by the thunderbolt that will link to your Mac. The other three ports are plain-old USB-C with give you up to 10Gb/s for connecting peripherals, storage, and networking. The fit of these ports is tight and accurate. There is a highly re-assuring ‘click’ when they snap in to place.
Over the moon! I knew the camera was not going to impress, from all I had heard. But as I don’t buy a monitor for the webcam, I am going to disregard that. In the areas I did buy this display for, it could not deliver more of a 10 out of 10. Vibrant, bright, colourful and accurate. Simple to set up, and a joy to be in-front of so far. I am sure there are cheaper options out there, but like the rest of my Apple kit, this is an investment for the future. The MacBook will be old way before the display is, I suspect. So, although it is an expensive outlay, it’s a one-time thing. I will soon be comparing it to the LG Ultrafine 5K monitor, and I will give you my thoughts. I know I make it easy for Apple. It was always going to be this monitor for me. It looks great and fits in beautifully. Would I recommend it? Hell yes! I have just looked at the Apple site, and they are still quoting an 8-10 week delivery. My suggestion, is shop about. You, too, may get lucky.
Be in no doubt, though, this is Apple at their best – bar that camera.
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Originally published at https://www.talkingtechandaudio.com/blog on May 16th, 2022.