I didn’t think this event was going to be anything that exciting. Just a regular spring event for iPhone SE, iPad Air, and perhaps MacBook Air refresh. But boy, was I really in for a treat this time. As you may know, for a few years now I had been pleading for a new less expensive Apple-branded display. Here’s what I wrote most recently back in June of last year:
Again, here is all I'm asking: take out that 5K 27-inch panel in the discontinued iMac Pro (or the one you're putting in the new 27-inch Apple Silicon iMac), put it in an external display chassis, maybe add some bells and whistles like a webcam, USB-C ports, fancy speakers, etc., slap a $1,300-1,500 price tag on it (knowing Apple), and take my money.
And look at what they announced:
[Studio Display] features an expansive 27-inch 5K Retina display, a 12MP Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage, and a high-fidelity six-speaker sound system with spatial audio.
With 600 nits of brightness, P3 wide color, and support for over one billion colors, images come to life with spectacular detail. True Tone technology automatically adjusts the display’s color temperature as the environment changes for a more natural viewing experience. An industry-leading anti-reflective coating enables incredibly low reflectivity for better comfort and readability.
Studio Display also includes a studio-quality, three-microphone array with an especially low noise floor for crystal-clear calls and voice recordings.
Studio Display has three USB-C ports that deliver speeds up to 10Gb/s to connect high-speed peripherals, storage, and networking right into the display. A Thunderbolt port enables users to connect Studio Display and any connected peripherals to their Mac with a single cable. The same cable also delivers 96W of power to a Mac notebook, allowing Studio Display to even fast-charge a 14-inch MacBook Pro.
Never before in my time of following Apple had my wish been granted almost so spot-on. The Studio Display has everything I asked for, and then some. Not only that it has a webcam, it also supports Center Stage. Not only that it has speakers, it also supports spatial audio.
The announcement itself was such a roller coaster of emotion. They showed the Studio Display and went into all of its features, talking about the camera, speakers, built-in A13 Bionic chip, etc. And that’s when I (and my bank account) got really worried: this thing is packed full of features and I thought that it for sure was going to be at least $2,200-2,500. So when it was revealed to be $1,599, I never celebrated so hard for something that is still so expensive. But given the precedent with the $5,000 Pro Display XDR with a $1,000 stand, this Studio Display price tag is quite reasonable in my opinion.
Annoyingly the base configuration comes with a non-height adjustable stand which is such a cheap move from Apple given how much it already costs. To upgrade to a height-adjustable stand without the nano-texture coating is extra $400, making it a nice rounded $2,000. Way too much for a computer monitor, but that configuration is what I ordered.
Not to make excuses for how ridiculously expensive this monitor is, but for comparison the Thunderbolt Display that came out in 2011 had a $1000 price tag which, adjusted for inflation, would cost around $1,250 today. That monitor came with a non-retina 1440p panel and 720p camera. So the new Studio Display costing $350 more with all of these extra features is not out of character for Apple.
This was another surprise for this event. This Mac and the M1 Ultra look like a beast of performance. I definitely don’t have that kind of need and I am very happy with my 14-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro. The tease at the end about the Mac Pro is so very cheeky and I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do with it.