Apple Studio Display review: At $1,599, you don’t get what you pay for

People have two different reactions to

an Apple‘s

AAPL 0.65%

New $1,599 Studio Monitor with Webcam and Surround Speakers:

# 2 Oh wonderful! How good do I cut my nails, load the dishwasher and do the taxes? I don’t touch a screen more expensive than my own actual What the computer did not do everything.

After a week of testing, I have answers. Surprise! It’s not a good nail clipper. Well, the real surprise is that it is not a good webcam, especially after Apple talked about it.

Computer monitor shipments soared During the big migration of working from home, so you can see why Apple wants to offer something other than Pro Offer $4,999. But still, $1,599? That’s more than double the price of many high-end monitors.

The new screen is designed to pair with Mac studio targeting pro, which starts at $1,999. Yes, that means $3,600 or more to set up a shiny new Mac. However, you can purchase Studio Display separately for pairing With most newer MacBooks. (Sorry, PC users, it may work but wasn’t designed with Windows in mind.)

The new Apple Studio Display may look like an iMac, but it’s just a display — Mac sold separately.


Photo:

Kenny Wasos/The Wall Street Journal

Since I’m a laptop person who generally uses a second monitor, the studio monitor looked like a home office dream catcher: a beautiful 5K, 27-inch monitor that transforms into the ultimate video conferencing center. It has a 12-megapixel webcam, six stereo speakers, and an A13 Bionic processor (found on iPhone 11 models) for improved camera and audio performance.

Even with all this smart stuff, it turns out that a studio monitor isn’t a very smart purchase. The webcam consistently made me look like a ’90s home video star and the display quality was often indistinguishable from the older, more affordable options.

Whatever the price range of your monitor, I urge you to compare the options to the following criteria.

Display quality

The image quality has become so good that unless you are a professional, you probably won’t be able to spot the main differences.

So what I got is professional. I recruited Daniel Silverman, a color illustrator who spends his days color-correcting in films and commercials, to help me evaluate Apple and a host of other 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) and 5K (5120 x 2880 pixels) Dell monitors,

Samsung

And the

LG.

(Please don’t buy a 1080p screen. It looks like a doo-doo now because all of our laptops have a higher screen resolution.)

As you will see in my video, I asked my producer to hide screen frames so we didn’t know which was which. Next, Daniel and I evaluated each by looking at the same content on all screens.

Daniel’s top two picks? LG UltraFine 5K $1,300 27″ Monitor and LG $450, 27-inch UltraFine 4K observer. mine? I couldn’t choose between 5K LG and Apple.

The new Apple Studio Display is compatible with most newer MacBooks.


Photo:

Kenny Wasos/The Wall Street Journal

This is logical. That 5K LG, which Out in 2019It has roughly the same specs as the Apple display, for $300 less. Apple recently stopped selling the model in its store – most likely because they want you to buy their own.

When we turned off True Tone, Apple’s automatic color temperature adjustment feature, Daniel also agreed with Apple, and we agreed that both were excellent. Analysts I spoke to believed that the Apple board was made by

LG screen.

LG declined to comment. An Apple spokeswoman said this is a new, custom-made panel.

Even if you’re not a sharp-eyed expert, you’ll notice one big difference when these monitors are on your desk. LG models come by default with height-adjustable mounts. Apple’s base stand lets you tilt the screen, but if you want to tilt the screen And the Move up and down, as if you were a spoiled royal, it would cost an extra $400. Or you could just put that awesome new $1,600 monitor on a pile of old books. your choice.

Want to raise your Apple Studio Display? You’ll need some books for that, or an extra $400. The default stand height of the LG 5K monitor can be adjusted.


Photo:

Kenny Wasos/The Wall Street Journal

camera quality

You can understand why I would expect the Studio Display webcam to be the goat (the greatest of all time). With a 12MP camera and an A13 Bionic chip, it should be on par with the front camera of the iPhone 11 Pro.

However, Apple’s camera consistently produces grainy and blurry photos. There was a lot of missing detail in some of the shots that reminded me of the camera on my old BlackBerry. On the plus side: No one can see my curly hair.

To be sure, I once again brought in extra eyes. I recorded webcam footage on the Studio monitor (12MP), iPhone 11 Pro (12MP), 14-inch MacBook Pro (2MP) and LG 5K display (2MP). I shared the frames with a bunch of colleagues, without saying which one. The group was unanimous, which finally made Apple’s Studio Display webcam dead. Naturally, the iPhone came out on top.

Even in great lighting, the Studio Display’s webcam was constantly battered by the iPhone 11 Pro’s front camera and the lower-resolution webcams on the LG 5K and 14-inch MacBook Pro.


Photo:

Joanna Stern/The Wall Street Journal

After contacting Apple about my results, another spokeswoman wrote, “We have detected an issue where the system is not working as expected. We will make improvements in a future software update.” I plan to observer the situation.

The Apple Center Stage trick hides some of these quality issues. As you move around a room, the webcam actually zooms in/out and pans to track you. If someone else gets into the shot, it will expand to capture. It’s fast and works in many video calling apps, including FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype. But it feels less More useful on a Mac than on an iPad. When I sit at my desk, the biggest step I take is having coffee.

Headphone and microphone quality

studio screen Do Earn the GOAT title for the quality of the headphones. With a six-speaker system, Apple crushed every other monitor’s built-in speakers in our side-by-side testing. Music, movies, and even phone calls seemed more complete.

The A13 chip enables Spatial Audio, a virtual surround sound experience. similar to Support on HomePod and AirPodsThis requires Spatial Audio music, which, of course, is easy to get with Apple TV and Apple Music. Synergy! HBO Max and Peacock also offer it through Safari browsers, according to Apple.

Microphones are great too. They did a better job than the 14-inch MacBook Pro at canceling out background noise.

Connection

For laptop users, the monitor is no longer just a monitor – it’s a docking station.

The Studio Display has four USB-C ports – one of which is a Thunderbolt port capable of fast-charging a laptop and three others for connecting peripherals. For me, my MacBook is connected to the Thunderbolt port, and the microphone and hard drive are connected to the other ports. Once I connect my laptop, I can access these accessories. The 5K LG phone has a similar set of ports.

The new Apple Studio Display includes a Thunderbolt port and three other USB-C ports.


Photo:

Kenny Wasos/The Wall Street Journal

So what do you buy? If you don’t care about speaker quality or attractive aluminum design, but are obsessed with the 5K picture, save $300 and get the 5K LG. Although they are now sold out at many retailers, a LG spokesperson tells me the company expects to resell them in stock next month. But honestly, those Apple or LG 5K aren’t enough to keep me away from them My Trusted $450 4K LG. The screen is nice and I use headphones most of the time anyway.

But, hey, Studio Display is great for one thing: it got us thinking about what a computer screen should be. It has many built-in cameras and USB hubs; Some, like Samsung M7 Smart Display $370 I tested, I even have voice assistants and apps. (Unfortunately, the display quality wasn’t great and the stand wiggled.)

The point is that our observers should do more for us. Hooray for Apple to catch up with this. Boo on Apple for charging $1,599 for technology that’s not quite up to market.


Photo:

Tammy Lian

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