It’s been another year of adding to my Apple gear – but there is one device that still stands out…
Apple has had their fair share of my money this year.
This isn’t going to be a review of my tech year – I may write that in a few weeks…and I’ve certainly added to my Apple booty this past 12 months. AirPods Max, a HomePod, the iPhone 15 Pro Max and just a few weeks ago the M3 iMac.
All the gear has its place in my day and I don’t think I’ve bought one device and been unhappy with it.
The AirPods Max have great audio quality and a long battery life. The HomePod which I have paired to my Apple 4K TV sounds brilliant and I love the way it fits so well into my Apple ecosystem – music, TV, movies or podcasts – they all sound great on the new large HomePod.
My iPhone 15 Pro Max is head & shoulders the best iPhone I’ve ever owned and I’ve finally got on top of shooting in log & ProRes with it too which has lifted its importance in my day even further.
But, as great as all those devices are – and the ones I bought last year like the M1 Max MacBook Pro and M2 MacBook Air there is one bit of Apple kit that strikes me between the eyes – almost literally – as being the most important part of my day…and that is the Studio Display.
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Apple’s Studio Display – making the day better
I bought it last spring at the same time as my MacBook Pro.
I spent a long time working out in my head which route I wanted to take before buying the MacBook/Studio Display combo. Until that point, I’d always been a desktop worker so was very tempted with the Mac Studio. I knew it would have had more than enough grunt for my needs – but it would also have tied me to the desk for who knew how many years to come.
Post COVID my work day looks very different as it does for many of us I guess. I’ve now taken on a studio space so my day is pretty evenly split between home & the studio. The beauty of the MacBook is that can come with me and there is no interruption to my productivity. It was the right decision – but even as I was buying it I knew that I’d need the Studio Display to go with it.
Sure the Liquid Retina XDR display on the MacBook Pro is a stunning panel but even at 16.2 inches it was always going to be too small to work on every day. And although there were cheaper alternatives out there as far as panels go – they were never an option. Once you’ve worked on a Retina display there is no going back!
The V word – value
I’m done with defending myself over the cost of the display. Okay – at £1500 it is an expensive panel but sometimes it’s just worth digging a little deeper to evaluate what value is.
If we just look at the hardware itself – you get a bright, punchy 5K hi-res Retina display with 600nits of brightness. Although my stand is the standard tilt-only version it never feels low or uncomfortable to work on. No one has ever said the iMac is too low – so why that argument is levelled at the Studio Display I have no idea.
It comes packed with a decent 12MP camera too with Apple’s Centre Stage thrown in. I’ll be the first to admit that at launch the camera had some ’issues’ but much to my surprise the subsequent over-the-air updates have solved most of those niggles – it’s now a very useable, competent camera that is more than good enough to use on FaceTime calls – the days of looking orange and being horribly over compressed are luckily a thing of the past.
And if you are looking to further save both money and space the audio set-up is good as well. It has a downward-facing six-speaker system with pretty impressive bass coming from the force-cancelling woofers.
It supports Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos – so if you are watching videos or Apple TV on the display – it will sound pretty amazing – I can tell you that from experience having just watched the latest episode of Slow Horses on it!
But that is not my definition of value – at least not fully.
Investing in me
Sure all those bits that Apple threw at the display make it beautiful to use – but the money I spent on it falls by the wayside when I think of the benefits it’s had to me or for me.
As mighty as the MacBook Pro is – I spend hardly any time looking at it. Yeah, sure it’s the brains of the partnership and without that at the heart of my workflow everything would come crashing down but Apple’s display is what makes it possible to actually do the work.
I must spend between 8-10 hours in front of this display every day. I write on it and edit videos and podcasts on it. The 24-inch panel is just so inviting to work on – if I had my way I’d buy another in a flash for the studio – and if money were no object I’d probably even splash out on the Pro Display XDR – and the reason is simple…your display is crucial to how you perform.
You only get one pair of eyes and it pays you handsomely to look after them as best you can. The kind of work I do is very demanding on the eyes. The nature of video editing and working in Photoshop are both intensive and the last thing you want to be doing for hours at a time is straining.
You need the images and colours you are looking at to pop out at you from the screen – the more those deep dark blacks and rich vibrant colours can ‘sing’ to you the easier your day will be. And don’t take my word for it. In the summer I had my 24-month eye check and there was virtually no difference in the results.
Before the check-up, I was asked what I did for a job and having told her I think she possibly feared the worst. But I told her about the quality of the display I worked on and she said that was quite possibly the contributing factor as to why my eyes had lasted up so well.
Yeah – I take regular breaks and try to walk away from the display as regularly as I can – but that would all be for nothing if I was looking at a cheap inferior display day after day.
You are worth it
If you’re reading this then there is a good chance you are an Apple convert – you know well enough that Apple is not in the habit of making or selling cheap shoddy gear. Nope, with Apple you get what you pay for.
They are no saints – they will stiff you hard for every GB of extra memory you buy from them and they are also guilty of some inexcusable actions as well – the lightning ports on the keyboard & mouse on my new M3 iMac being prime examples.
But they do make tremendous devices that work beautifully together in simple synergy. When they decided to dip their toes back into the affordable consumer-level display marketplace they decided that quality should be the calling card.
You could argue that at the price point, they could have given us a stand that was both height & tilt adjustable but that to one side – the engineering on the stand is gorgeous and will last a lifetime. Indeed that feeling is true wherever you look at the display it looks sleek and stylish and will make any desk set-up look better.
There is a decent array of ports to support your peripherals – with one Thunderbolt 3 upstream port that charges my MacBook Pro and 3 USB-C ports – that combined with the MacBook that it spends its days hooked up to means I am spoilt for selection.
The only thing I’d have changed about the display is the power cord – I’d rather that have been more akin to the one found on my new iMac – the fixed cable has proven to be a pain in the arse on more than one occasion – but that is my only complaint after endless hours of use over nearly two years.
Enough value for you?
And if you still want to quibble with me about the price bring it on.
I’d buy it in a heartbeat all over again – it invites me to work rather than making it a chore – I bloody love working on it and if this display from Apple can make my day seem easier and more creative I’d say that equates to value in my book.
There has been loose talk of a 32-inch Studio display coming out – if that materialises you may well find me at the front of that particular queue!
If your day sees you tied to the desk my simple advice to you would be to invest in yourself. Sure the iPads, iPhones & MacBooks are the poster boys – but the real heroes are your eyes and this stunning display from Apple will take care of them for you.
You are worth it…
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