Monday, April 4, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Mac External Displays for Designers and Developers

Marc Edwards (tweet):

Since writing about Mac external displays in 2016, not much has changed. LG, Dell, Samsung, and other display makers have either never catered for the specs many Mac designers and developers want, or they’ve reluctantly produced products that have been short-lived or compromised.

[…]

Thankfully, Apple’s new Studio Display now provides a great option.

Spec wise, it’s incredibly similar to LG’s 5K UltraFine, and the display of the now discontinued 27-inch iMac, even though it’s not using the same panel. […] The Studio Display hits an incredibly important target, and it can now be the default choice for discerning Mac designers and developers.

[…]

Not everyone’s going to see these issues or be annoyed by them, but they are very real. There’s also very legitimate reasons for using display scaling, or purchasing displays that can’t run macOS with 1:1 pixel mapping. It’s just good to be aware of the compromises. If you’re after a cheaper option, buying a non-Retina display could be a good choice. For that, you’d want a display that’s around 109PPI. It will look more pixelated though.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Previously:

2 Comments

Ghost Quartz

I still think buying a 109 PPI display is terrible advice, and I think the vast majority of people will be happier with a 4K display in the so-called “bad zone”. Most software allows adjusting the font size, zooming the document, or (often in the case of Electron apps) scaling the entire UI. Consider something like a spreadsheet, where the increased pixel density of a 27" 4K display allows zooming out further before legibility is compromised, versus a 27" 1440p display. Or consider things like photos, documents, and video, which have no “inherent” size, and simply look better with the bump in pixel density. Yes, some of that is offset by the increased proportion of screen space used by UI elements, but I’d much rather use a display with a higher pixel density where some UI elements are too big, than a terrible non-Retina display.

[ Disclaimer: I've only skimmed Marc's post so far ]

>I still think buying a 109 PPI display is terrible advice, and I think the vast majority of people will be happier with a 4K display in the so-called “bad zone”.

Especially if your Mac is modern enough that the performance overhead of oversampling is fine. In that case, get a 27-inch 4K (~$700) and oversample it to 5K, or get a 24-inch 4K (~$350) and oversample it to 4.5K. IOW, get a 163ppi or 184ppi display and run it at a virtual 218ppi. You can get two of those and still end up cheaper than Apple.

The result won't be as sharp as "real" Retina, and Marc of course isn't wrong about the blur, shimmer, and moiré. The key question is: does it still look a lot better than a 109ppi@1x display? I'm guessing yes.

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