The portability of a MacBook is the main point in choosing many for a computer, but when it comes to the workstation (where the user spends most of the time), an external monitor helps a lot in productivity – and I am an adept of this type of setup.
Apple Displays, also known as Cinema Displays, were produced in 2016, and the latter version went through five long years of production without a single update. A lot of uncertainty about the return of Apple monitors surround the market and raise doubts and expectations among the brand’s fans, but it really does not look like we’ll see anything coming from Apple for a while.
Some consumers who, like me, much like the idea of having a setup consisting of a MacBook connected to a fully compatible monitor – and the minimum required cables – were heartbroken by Apple’s exit from that market. But to the delight of some, the market itself has tried to fill some gaps, featuring monitors compatible with the technologies that the new MacBooks Pro have been offering since 2016.
LG, in partnership with Apple itself, launched the UltraFine Display in two configurations: one with a 4K resolution (4096 × 2304 pixels), 21.5 inches; and another with 5K (5120 × 2880 pixels), 27 inches – precisely what we’ll be talking about here.
In my quest for a monitor, I highlighted three criteria that I understood to be the most important: the greatest possible compatibility with my 13 “MacBook Pro (using USB-C / Thunderbolt ports), reducing desktop peripherals webcam and speakers) and, of course, the image quality. The LG UltraFine 5K presented itself as a great product and, within the criteria, I set out as important, it seemed to be perfect!
In the launch of the new MacBooks Pro, the big controversy was the extinction of all other ports at the expense of the USB-C type / Thunderbolt, which although extremely fast at 40Gbps is not yet so widespread in the market that users, do not feel the effects of absences.
On my previous monitor, I had to “hang” several adapters (one from USB-C to HDMI, because of video and audio, another from USB-C to USB-A, to connect peripherals such as speakers, webcam, printer, etc.). It was an annoying mess.
The LG UltraFine comes with three USB-C ports on the back, with 7.5W of power each, enough to charge your main devices when needed. What’s more interesting, though, is the Thunderbolt 3 port that offers up to 85W to charge the MacBook Pro. All in just * one cable *! That is, what was once three cables, adapters and charger, now turned into just one connecting the monitor to the MacBook Pro directly. Wonderful!
Compatibility starts at the cables and ends at the system settings, which immediately recognizes the external monitor, allowing the same settings as the MacBook Pro monitor, as well as switching audio input and output (stereo) – and also lets you choose which FaceTime camera HD to use in an absolutely fast way.
I can safely say that only those features above would have convinced me that this was the monitor I was looking for, but the main highlight of the product is the image quality.
The 5K resolution (at 60Hz) is fantastic! With more than 14.7 million pixels, you get the feeling that no image can be more detailed than the one we see on the screen. It is impossible to see any pixel, and from any angle you look at the monitor the image remains perfect and with the same quality. Colors (P3 standard) and brightness (500cd / m²) are irreparable, making the experience of watching videos and viewing photos incredible.
Unfortunately, not all Macs support everything this monitor has to offer, only MacBooks Pro from 2016 onwards and iMacs from 2017 are compatible with 5120 × 2880 pixels at 60Hz resolution – MacBooks Pro 15 “Can even support two of these beauties simultaneously!
Earlier machines, typically made after 2013 (Mac Pro), 2014 (MacBook Pro and iMac) and 2015 (MacBook Air), support up to 3840 × 2160 pixels at 60Hz.
Another highlight is the construction of the product. The finish is made of a very good quality hard plastic, fixed in a very firm metal base by a height-adjustable pedestal which comes together with the angle adjustment of the monitor itself, allows for several variations of position for the user’s choice. The frames are of an acceptable size; the upper one is a bit thicker to receive the FaceTime HD camera with microphone.
Yes, it is not a masterpiece of technological design – and Jony Ive certainly would not put his signature on something like that – but it does well for its role, with a very discreet look. Certainly the significant problem with this product is the price, already expensive in the United States where it costs scary $ 1,300, making the purchase almost impossible for people.
Lastly, I am delighted! This will be my external monitor for a long time – if all goes well, it will keep my current Mac and the futures coming, too. All I have to do is hope that the USB-C ports remain Apple’s standard for a long time.
- Compatibility with MacBooks Pro;
- Image quality;
- Speaker, FaceTime HD camera and built-in microphone.