When Harry Potter’s name emerges from the Goblet of Fire, he becomes a competitor in a grueling battle for glory among three wizarding schools – the Triwizard Tournament. But since Harry never submitted his name for the Tournament, who did? Now Harry must confront a deadly dragon, fierce water demons and an enchanted maze only to find himself in the cruel grasp of He Who Must Not Be Named. In this fourth film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, everything changes as Harry, Ron and Hermione leave childhood forever and take on challenges greater than anything they could have imagined.

Apple

  • Apple Unveils New IT Professional Training Courses

    Apple Unveils New IT Professional Training Courses

    Last week Apple unveiled a new IT Training course and website, available at training.apple.com.

    There are actually two parts to the full course, the “Apple Device Support” course and the “Apple Deployment and Management” course. The Device Support course is approximately 14 hours in length and will cover tools, services, and the best practices used to support an organization’s iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Once you have completed the course you can attempt the exam to earn the Apple Certified Support Professional certification, with the exam ID of 9L0-3021-ENU.

    Apple Device Support IT Training images
    Apple Device Support IT Training images

    The Apple Deployment and Management course is approximately 13 hours long and will cover the ways to configure, manage, and secure Apple’s products while using a mobile device management, or MDM, service using Apple’s Business Manager or Apple School Manager. Once you have completed this course and pass the exam, you can earn the Apple Certified IT Professional certification, with the exam ID of 9L0-3019-ENU.

    Apple Deployment and Management Tutorials
    Apple Deployment and Management Tutorials

    Notes

    There are a couple of things to note about these. First, the “Certified Support Professional” is required before attempting the “Certified IT Professional” certificate.

    Second, the exams are online exams and administered by Pearson OnVue. When you do take the exam, it will cost $149 each. So, that is something to keep in mind. According to Apple’s documents, if you do not pass the exam on the first try, you can retake it again after 14 days, with a maximum of four attempts to pass the exam.

    Each exam is 110 questions, of which you need to get 80%, or 88 questions, correct in order to pass. You have 120 minutes to complete the questions.

    This is a great addition for those looking to get some training on Apple’s products with documents directly from Apple. The ability to learn at your own pace is a great thing for providing significant flexibility for those wanting to learn.

    Source: Apple Newsroom

  • First Generation Apple TV: 15 Years Later

    First Generation Apple TV: 15 Years Later

    This article continues the series that I started earlier this year called “15 Years Later”. The series is intended to look back at 2007 and many of the big things that occurred during that year.

    To date, I have covered the following:

    This is another article in that series. This one will cover the original Apple TV.

    Apple TV Introduction

    Typically, when Apple introduces a new product they do not pre-announce it. However, there is are exceptions to this. The only exceptions is when Apple introduces a new product line, that requires certification by regulation agencies, like the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC. The reason for this is that Apple would rather control the introduction and information as opposed to having it be released by another agency.

    Apple initially announced the Apple TV, then called the iTV, in September of 2006. You can watch the introduction video below.

    On March 21st, 2007 Apple began shipping the Apple TV. So let us look back at the 1st generation Apple TV.

    Apple TV (1st Generation)

    Of course at its release it was not called the 1st generation Apple TV, it was just the Apple TV. The original Apple TV was a smaller and thinner version of another Apple product, the Mac mini.

    In fact, the physical size of the Apple TV was 7.7 inches by 7.7 inches by about 1.1 inches tall. This would fit nicely in a stereo cabinet with other devices.

    The original Apple TV had two different connection types, HDMI and component video. The reason for both is that not all TVs at the time had HDMI connections, but many at least had component.

    The Apple TV was limited to either 480p or 720p when playing video. However, the interface could be shown at 1080p.

    The Apple TV also had an ethernet jack as well, only a 10/100 Mbps connection. This was enough bandwidth to easily stream from a computer to the Apple TV. Ethernet was not on the only connection you could use.

    Ports on the back of the first generation Apple TV

    I know I tended to use Wireless more often than the wired connection. The Apple TV could connect to 802.11a/b/g/n. Even 802.11g would be fast enough for streaming 720p video, and since 802.11n was faster, it was definitely able to handle it. However, there was one area the speed would be even more beneficial, and that was the primary use case, syncing.

    Syncing with iTunes

    The Apple TV was effectively a giant iPod. This meant that you could connect the Apple TV to iTunes and synchronize data over to it. The Apple TV would appear in iTunes and you could then choose the movies, podcasts, or TV shows to synchronize.

    Storage and Pricing

    The Apple TV came in two storage sizes, a 40GB or a 160GB model. Both of these were 5400RPM 2.5-inch laptop hard drives. The 40GB model cost $299 and the 160GB model cost $399.

    Processor

    The first-generation Apple TV contained a low-power Intel processor. This made sense because the Apple TV was developed early into Apple’s transition to Intel processor. Specifically it has a 1.0 GHz Intel Pentium M. It had 256MB of RAM with an integrated Nvidia GeForce Go graphics card with 64 Megabytes of dedicated video RAM.

    Internals of the first generational Apple TV

    Remote

    The way that you interacted with the Apple TV was by using a white plastic remote. This was the same remote that was included with iMacs at the time. You could also use an aluminum remote as well.

    These remotes have a four way directional pad with a click button in the middle.

    Original Apple TV Remote

    Apple also introduced an iOS app that would allow you to connect your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to use the Apple TV. Sometimes it was easier to use the iOS iTunes Remote, particularly when you needed to enter in a password.

    My Purchase

    Even though the Apple TV started shipping in March, it was not until May 5th, 2007 that I actually picked up an Apple TV. The model I got was the 40GB model. This was because it was cheaper at $299 and it was the most I was willing to spend at the time.

    The Apple TV was a spur of the moment type of purchase and not one that I had really planned on making. I distinctly remember where I bought it from, it was a Circuit City. I was looking through some old paperwork and I ran across the receipt at some point recently. Although, now I cannot seem to find the original receipt.

    The original Apple TV Today

    Unlike many old Macs, you cannot really use the original Apple TV in its original configuration today. Since iTunes is no longer able to sync, you cannot add any media to the device.

    There still is one thing that you can do with the 1st generation Apple TV, it was possible to use it as an AirPlay destination. I was not able to get my video to AirPlay to the Apple TV, but I could get music to AirPlay successfully. Therefore, if you have an original Apple TV you can still use it for at least one thing. The AirPlaying was done with my mid-2017 iMac running macOS Monterey.

    Air Play of a song to a first-generation Apple TV

    Personally, I do not use my original Apple TV anymore. I have since upgraded to several of the newer models. I do still use the first generation Apple TV as a way of raising up my iMac or another monitor, depending on what I need. When I did briefly plug the first generation Apple TV again, the hard drive was a bit nosier than I had remembered, but it was still operational.

    Closing Thoughts

    The Apple TV was a good device for its time. Even though it required you to sync data over to it, the speed of the wireless connection, with 802.11N, or even the 100Mbps ethernet connection, would synchronize data fairly quickly.

    The fact that it was the same physical footprint as the Mac mini allowed it fit nicely into an entertainment center with other devices. The Intel Pentium M processor was a lower speed, but allowed for passive cooling, so there was no fan noise.

    There is one spot where there might be noise, and that would be the 40GB or 160GB spinning hard drive could be the place where noise would be heard, particularly as the device got on in age.

    The Apple TV cannot really be used with any modern Mac, with the exception of being an AirPlay destination. Therefore, if you do have the need for a TV and you still have an original Apple TV, you could still use it.

    Apple Newsroom: Apple TV Now Shipping – March 21, 2007

  • Apple Discontinues the iPod touch

    Apple Discontinues the iPod touch

    It was not that long ago that I had commented to my friend Barry Sullivan that Apple needed to determine what they were going to do with the iPod touch, either increase the screen size to 4.7 inches, to bring it inline with the iPhone SE, or cancel the product outright. They opted for the latter. Today Apple announced that they are discontinuing the iPod touch, the last in a long line of iPod products.

    1st generation iPod
    Original iPod introduced in October of 2001

    The iPod was initially introduced on October 23rd, 2001 with the first generation iPod. In September of 2007, Apple introduced the iPod touch as “the iPhone minus the phone”. The iPod touch was a widescreen iPod and device that many felt safe giving to their kids instead of a full-fledged iPhone. In the newsroom post, Apple states:

    Among the incredible ways to enjoy music across a range of devices, including a wide variety of models from the new iPhone SE to the latest iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone is the best device for streaming Apple Music or storing an entire music library on the go. Apple Watch and AirPods are the perfect companion, allowing users to access over 90 million songs right from their wrist, starting at just $279 with Apple Watch SE. iPad starts at just $329, comes with a more powerful chip, larger display and the latest iPadOS features. And for the best way to enjoy music at home, HomePod mini is just $99.

    One thing I would like to point out about the above paragraph. It is somewhat disingenuous to say that someone can purchase an Apple Watch SE and listen to music. This is because it requires an iPhone to setup an Apple Watch. Yes, an Apple Watch could be added for another person in a family, but at that point it is not fully standalone. Therefore, someone wanting to get a device to download and listen to their music on the go has to pay at least $329 for an iPad. If they want to only listen at one location, and only stream Apple Music, then the HomePod mini is the way to go.

    My Thoughts

    I cannot say that I am surprised by this decision. The 7th generation iPod touch was introduced on May 28th, of 2019 and has not been updated since. It took Apple a few months to even update the webpages when the 7th generation was introduced. So, it is not surprising that the product is being discontinued.

    I myself was never much of an iPod touch person. I do have a 7th generation iPod touch that I use mostly for development and testing, but it is not something I use day to day. Even though the iPod touch was not for me, I did own a fair number of iPods over the years. A 1st generation iPod mini, the 1st generation iPod nano, the 6th generation iPod nano, and a 7th generation iPod nano, and a 5th generation 30GB iPod.

    1st generation iPod mini
    1st generation iPod mini

    The discontinuation of the iPod touch does have some overall implications. First, for many instead of purchasing an iPod touch for their kids, many are now more likely to pass down old iPhones that do not have cellular plans. Second, for developers, the iPod touch has always been an outlier. It has the smallest screen size available at 4 inches. Trying to create interfaces that work at the variety of sizes available can be challenging. Being able to slowly drop support for the 4-inch screen should make development a bit easier, in the long run anyway.

    It is sad to see the iPod line come to an end, but since the introduction of the iPhone, the sales of iPods has been decreasing. The iPod touch has not been a big seller for Apple for many years now. And the iPhone is a much more capable device, particularly in the world of streaming music.

    Source: Apple Newsroom

  • Apple’s Self Service Repair Now Available

    Apple’s Self Service Repair Now Available

    Today Apple announced that their previously announced repair service is now available. While you may think that it is being run by Apple, it is not. Apple has contracted with a third-party to handle ordering of parts. The service repair site is available at https://www.selfservicerepair.com/.

    The Self Service Repair Service site allow you to order parts that can repair a phone from the iPhone 12 line, a phone from the iPhone 13 line, or the 3rd generation iPhone SE.

    In order to be able to order anything, you will want to look at the repair manuals, which are available on the Apple support site. After you have determined what item, or items, you need for your repair you can order the necessary parts. In order to purchase parts, you will need a valid IMEI or serial number. This is so the site can verify that the parts will work for the device.

    The Self Service Repair site will allow you to order tools, as well as the parts. However, it is possible that you may not want to purchase the tools. For these instances, you can rent tools for $49 for a seven day rental. The tools that would be sent are the ones that are specific for your device. The rental option is helpful if you only need to do one repair.

    There is one last thing to note, all of the prices on the site are the same ones that Apple charges standard third-party repair companies, so there are no surcharges for parts or tools.

    If you are one who is wants to be able to try and repair their own device, it may be worth going through the Apple Self Service Repair program to get your parts and tools.

    Source: Apple Newsroom

  • Mac Studio: A Review

    Mac Studio: A Review

    If you were able to time travel back to 2007 and give someone the list of Mac desktops from March 17th, 2022, they would not see any differences. Not a single one. Back in 2007 there were three desktop models, the Mac mini, the iMac, and the Mac Pro. Yes, the form factor, designs, and internals have all changed, but someone the actual devices and their place in the lineup would be instantly understood and comprehended.

    It is not often that Apple introduces a new Mac model to the lineup. But, that is exactly what Apple has done. That device, is the Mac Studio. Before we dive into the Mac Studio, let us briefly look at recent Apple desktops.


    Brief History of recent Apple Desktops

    Apple has always had desktop computers. Their first computer, the Apple I, was a desktop. Apple has continually improved their desktops through the mid 1990s. The problem with the approach that Apple was taking in the mid-90s was that they were really no different than PCs. In fact, they were allowing companies to clone the Mac and as many who used the clones during the time would say, they are not very good. That changed when Apple cofounder Steve Jobs returned to the company. Shortly after his return to Apple, he introduced a new product, the iMac.

    The iMac was an all-in-one device that was self-contained, no separate monitor and computer. Apple continued to update and refine the iMac to include a flat-panel display. The iMac was the first device that Steve Jobs re-introduced after he returned to Apple and became interim CEO in 1997, after Apple purchased NeXT. The iMac has continued to be updated and changed since its introduction in 1998.

    In 2012 Apple introduced a new iMac size, to go with the 27-inch model. That size was the 21.5-inch model. In 2014 Apple introduced a revision that was the first retina version. The 27-inch iMac was updated in mid-2015, late 2015, mid-2017, early-2019, and mid-2020.


    High-end Mac Languishing

    Throughout the mid-2010s many Mac users were questioning what Apple was doing with the Mac. The reason that this was being questioned is because it seemed as though the Mac had stagnated and was not getting the attention that many thought it deserved. This was particularly true in 2015 and 2016 where the high-end of Mac line had not seen any meaningful changes in the Mac Pro. At the time, the model was last updated in 2013, but that model was a revolutionary design, a cylinder.

    In April 2017 Apple convened a roundtable for journalists that re-iterated the fact that the Mac was not dead and that they were still committed to the Mac. At the roundtable Apple indicated that “we’ll see improved iMacs that Apple feels will appeal to a segment of Pro users”. 

    Specifically at the Mac roundtable in 2017, Apple’s Phil Schiller stated:

    “As part of doing a new Mac Pro — it is, by definition, a modular system — we will be doing a Pro display as well. Now you won’t see any of those products this year; we’re in the process of that. We think it’s really important to create something great for our pro customers who want a Mac Pro modular system, and that’ll take longer than this year to do.”

    While it would take a bit for the new Mac Pro, more on that in a bit, it was not long after that meeting where Apple would introduce a new product, the iMac Pro.


    iMac Pro

    iMac Pro 2019
    Late 2019 – iMac Pro

    Introduced at their World Wide Developer Conference in June of 2017, the iMac Pro was a more professional iMac. The iMac Pro had the same physical dimensions of the regular 27-inch iMac, but it had entirely redesigned internals. The iMac Pro was aimed at more professional users. The iMac Pro included workstation-level processors, the Intel Xeon line, as well as error-correcting code, or ECC, memory. 

    Beyond the workstation graphics and ECC memory, the iMac Pro also included a 1TB solid state drive, which was possible with the standard 27-inch iMac, but this was still during the spinning hard drive era of the iMac. There was 32GB of memory as a base, but could be upgraded to 256GB of memory, if desired. 

    The iMac Pro also included a dedicated AMD Radeon Pro Vega video card, with up to 16 Gigabytes of dedicated graphics memory. The iMac Pro was not an inexpensive machine. Not by any means at all. The iMac Pro had a starting price of $4,999, so nobody would buy this on a whim. The iMac Pro was a one-off product that continued to be sold until March of 2021, when Apple announced that they would stop producing the iMac Pro and would continue to sell the iMac Pro until supplies ran out. 

    Even though Apple stopped selling the iMac Pro, there was still the other professional Mac, the Mac Pro.


    Mac Pro

    2013 Mac Pro
    Late 2013 – Mac Pro

    When the iMac Pro was introduced, some had speculated that the iMac Pro was intended to be the top of the line Mac and that the Mac Pro was no longer going to be updated. But, that was not the case, because Apple explicitly stated that they were working on a new Mac Pro, but it would not be coming in 2017. In fact, it would not be introduced until two years after the introduction of the iMac.

    There is the 2019 Mac Pro, which was unveiled at WWDC in June of 2019 and went on sale in December of 2019. Introducing the Mac Pro at WWDC was the right decision because one large segment of power users are developers. 

    At the same event as the introduction of the Mac Pro Apple also released their first all-new standalone display in nearly 9 years, and three years after selling standalone displays. That product is the Pro Display XDR. 

    I could dive deep into the Mac Pro and the Pro Display XDR, but that is not the primary focus of this review. Even though it’s not the focus, it is important that we keep in mind both the iMac and iMac Pro, because they come into play with a new Mac desktop, the Mac Studio. We will look at the Mac Studio in a bit, but before we do, let us look at a bit more history. Let us turn to my personal history with Mac Desktops.


    Personal History with Mac Desktops

    March 28th, 2022 marked the 15th anniversary of me using a Mac. As I posted in my retrospective, my first Mac was the Late 2006 20-inch iMac that I purchased in March of 2007. According to some, including @TweetDowns, I am merely a “rookie”, when it comes to using Macs. I take no offense to being called a “rookie” even though I have been using a Mac for 15 years, because there are those who have been using them for far longer than I have.

    If you have been reading the site for a while you likely notice that I end up getting a new iPhone and a new Apple Watch every year. One thing that you may also notice is that while I end up buying a new iPhone and Apple Watch every year, I tend to use my Macs for quite a bit longer. In fact, in my time using Macs, I have owned four Mac desktops, all three have been iMacs. These models have been Late 2006 20-inch iMac (purchased in March of 2007), a Mid-2011 21.5-inch iMac (purchased in July of 2011), and a Mid-2017 27-inch iMac (purchased in July of 2017). On average I end up replacing my Mac desktop every five years. And it has been just about five years time to replace it. I do not exclusively use Mac desktops though, I also have owned some Mac Laptops. Unlike desktops I have only owned two laptops. These are the Mid-2007 13-inch Black MacBook and the early-2015 13-inch MacBook Pro.

    On a side note, astute and diligent readers may remember that I also have a base-model Mac mini (M1, 2020), and they may be wondering why I did not include that one in my list. Well dear reader, that is a good observation. The reason I did not include it is that the Mac mini has not been my “daily” computer. It use it exclusively for testing app builds and running beta versions of macOS. It uses an entirely different account and has none of my personal data. With that, I decided to not include it in my list of desktop Macs.

    When I started thinking about which device to replace, my mid-2017 iMac or my early-2015 MacBook Pro, I was initially leaning towards replacing my MacBook Pro, since it is now seven years old. While making these decisions I could not decide whether or not to just get one replacement machine, a MacBook Pro with higher specifications, or continue with my two-computer setup.

    It turned there was something that caused me to end up replacing my iMac. The thing that prompted the replacement was that the iMac screen began to crack. I noticed the initial crack in March of 2021 and at the time it was small crack and it was stable for almost a year. But, over the course of about month it started to expand from that one inch (2.54cm) crack to be 18 inches (45.72cm) overall.

    Once the crack started expanding, that is when I decided to replace the iMac. I ended up buying a Mac Studio with a Studio Display. I will not cover the Studio Display, at least not in-depth, because I did an entire review of the Studio Display. The Studio Display will absolutely come up in the review, but it will be in context of the Mac Studio, and now onto my review of the Mac Studio.


    Mac Studio

    Front of an Early 2022 Mac Studio
    Early 2022 Mac Studio

    Apple introduced the Mac Studio last month, in March of 2022 at their “Peek Performance” event. This is the first new all new Macintosh design since 2006 with the Mac Pro. After the event Apple also did something else, they quietly removed the 27-inch iMac from sale. This makes sense, given that they introduced a standalone display, the Apple Studio Display, at the same event.


    Design

    When Apple introduced Apple Silicon at their World Wide Developer Conference in 2020, many thought it would be an opportunity for Apple to redesign all of the Mac models. However, the first models with Apple Silicon did not have any redesign, not even some internals were changed. This makes complete sense to use this approach. The reason that this makes sense is that if you do not change anything then you can do all of your development in secret without anybody knowing that something new is coming. This is exactly what Apple did for their first round of Apple Silicon devices, the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac mini.

    Even though Apple used the exact same enclosures and ports for their first round of machines, they did not continue to do that for newer models. While the MacBook Pros were not the first ones to get a redesign, they were the most anticipated The most anticipated updates were the higher-end MacBook Pros. In particular, Apple redesigned the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Along with the 16-inch MacBook Pro came a smaller model, the 14-inch MacBook Pro alongside it. The exterior of these laptops were redesigned including ports that users had been asking for, including MagSafe charging, HDMI, and an SD Card slot. 

    The first device to see a significant change was actually the 21,5-inch iMac. The 21.5-inch iMac got such a redesign that it was actually replaced with the 24-inch iMac. The 24-inch iMac was a radical change that included a set of new colors, an external power brick with a built-in ethernet cable, and a thin screen. While the 24-inch iMac was a great design, many were waiting for the replacement for the 27-inch iMac. That replacement is the Mac Studio. 

    The bottom of the Mac Studio is very reminiscent of a device that was unveiled in September of 2006 and released in March of 2007, the original Apple TV. The similarities are that they have approximately the same physical size, but the item that is most similar is that both of the devices have rubber element that is covering the entry point to the device. It is a full rubber pad for the original Apple TV and a rubber ring for the Mac Studio. Another similarity, the rubber ring, or pad, will be completely destroyed if you try to remove it. It was possible to remove the Apple TV rubber pad, but more often than not you would ruin it.

    The physical dimensions of the Mac Studio are 7.7 inches (19.7cm) by 7.7 inches (19.7cm) by 3.7 inches (9.5cm). The is the same physical footprint as Mac mini and the original Apple TV. The Mac Studio is significantly taller than the Mac mini, which stands at 1.4 inches (3.6cm). This is just a bit over two Mac minis tall.

    On the front of the Mac Studio is a power light indicator. This light is not super bright, which is good, but it is bright enough to be able to easily see no matter how much ambient light is available. I do not know if the light’s intensity is because it is how the type of light that Apple sourced is designed, or if Apple added a bit of diffusion within the case of the Mac Studio.

    Mac Studio stacked on top of an M1 Mac mini which is on top of an original Apple TV.
    Mac Studio stacked on top of an M1 Mac mini which is on top of an original Apple TV.

    Weight

    The Mac Studio is a somewhat heavy device, at least compared to the Mac mini. In fact, the Mac Studio is 5.9 pounds, or 2.7 kilograms. The Mac mini is 2.6 pounds, or 1.2 kilograms. The Mac Studio is 2.25x heavier. This somewhat makes sense because the Mac Studio is more than two Mac minis on top of each other. The difference in weight is partially the case for the Mac Studio but a majority of it is due to the fan assembly and heatsink. The M1 Ultra is slightly heavier at 7.9 pounds, or 3.6 kilograms. The reason for the M1 Ultra being even heavier is due to the copper heatsink that provides even better heat dissipation.

    It is not often that you will move the Mac Studio, but it is something to be aware of should you need to move it on a regular basis. Next, let us look at the modularity of the Mac Studio.


    Modularity

    When Apple introduced the Mac Studio they discussed that the Mac Studio is modular. When Apple mentioned this many likely thought “wait, this is the Mac Pro mini that was rumored”. Unfortunately for them, that is not the modularity that Apple was talking about. When Apple mentioned modularity they meant that the screen and computer are both modular. Meaning, that you could replace either of the items instead of needing to replace both at once.

    This approach does have its merits, in particular the fact that you are more likely to upgrade the Mac instead of the display. I know that is my intention for the Mac Studio and Studio Display. I intend to use the Studio Display for a long while and I am more likely to replace the Mac Studio before the Studio Display.

    There is another aspect to “modularity” when it comes to the Mac Studio. Unlike many of Apple’s other Macs, the storage is not soldered onto the logic board for the Mac Studio. This means that Apple can easily provide additional storage options, but more on that later.

    I think this was deliberately done. As my friend, and editor of my books, Barry Sullivan astutely pointed out, the Mac Studio is designed to be the replacement for both the 27-inch iMac as well as the iMac Pro. When he mentioned this, it instantly made sense that it was exactly what Apple had intended to do, and just reinforced Apple’s decision to remove the 27-inch iMac from sale. The best way to illustrate this is by explaining the two System-on-a-Chip, or SoC, options available for the Mac Studio.


    Apple Silicon on Mac Studio

    Apple Silicon is Apple’s replacement for using Intel processors in the Mac. The plan to transition away from Intel was unveiled at Apple’s WWDC 2020.  The first Apple Silicon machines, with the designation of M1, went on sale in November of 2020 with the introduction of three machines, the M1 MacBook Air, the M1 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the M1 Mac mini.

    Any Apple Silicon chip is significantly different than a traditional computer setup because it is a System on a Chip, or SoC. With Apple Silicon there is no difference between the system memory and the graphical memory. This means that there are significant improvements in speed due to both the main system memory and graphics memory being a single pool and there is no penalty for moving memory between the CPU and GPU, which requires time. With Apple Silicon there is no delay.

    One of the things that Apple has been able to do with the transition to Apple Silicon is to make the processor line up a bit easier to understand. The line up of chips is quite straightforward. There are four chips in the M1 line. These chips are:

    • M1 (no moniker)
    • M1 Pro
    • M1 Max
    • M1 Ultra

    As you progress the capabilities of each system on a chip changes and improves.

      M1 M1 Pro M1 Max M1 Ultra
    Total Cores 8 8/10 10 20
    Efficiency Cores 4 2 2 4
    Proficiency Cores 4 8 8 16
    GPU Cores 8 14/16 24/32 48/64
    Memory 8GB/16GB 16GB/32GB 32GB/64GB 64GB/128GB
    Neural Engine Cores 16 16 16 32
    Thunderbolt Ports 2 3 4 6

    If you look at the progression of the SoCs you will see that as the chips progress, the maximum amount of memory doubles. This is absolutely the case between M1 Max and the M1 Ultra.

    Apple M1 Chip Family Logos
    Logo of the M1 Family of Chips

    System-on-a-Chip Options

    The Mac Studio has two different processor options; the M1 Max and the M1 Ultra. The M1 Max has two variants, one with 24 GPU cores and another with 32 GPU cores. The M1 Ultra variants are exactly double that of the M1 Max, therefore the M1 Ultra has 20 CPU cores, with 16 performance cores, and 4 efficiency cores, and 32 Neural engine cores. There are also two variants, one with 48 GPU cores or the second with 64 GPU cores. 

    The M1 Ultra is actually two M1 Max chips paired together with a connector, called “UltraFusion”. When a developer hears or reads “two M1 Max chips together”, they are likely to instantly be put on guard. The reason for this is that when there you have two processors that typically means that you, as the developer, needs to handle addressing the various processors and memory on their own.

    However, that is not the case. From the perspective of macOS, the M1 Ultra is still seen as single processor, which means that developers do not need to perform any special programming to be able to take advantage of the additional bandwidth, cores, and memory. Instead, macOS can handle all of it for you.

    I think that Apple intentionally chose the M1 Max and M1 Ultra as the options for the Mac Studio, to directly replace the 27-inch iMac and the iMac Pro; with the M1 Max being the equivalent of the 27-inch iMac and the M1 Ultra being the equivalent of iMac Pro.

    The M1 Max and M1 Ultra both run at 3.2GHz, just as is the case with all of the M1 processors, including the M1 and M1 Pro. Next, let us look at what ports are available on the Mac Studio.


    Ports

    One thing that people often need to do with their device is attach devices. What is attached could be a variety of items, like external hard drives, thumb drives or any other external device. While some MacBooks and MacBook Pros have had a limited number of ports, including the single USB-C port on the 12-inch MacBook, Apple’s desktops have always had many ports. The Mac Studio is no exception to this.

    Early 2022 Mac Studio Ports
    Ports on the Early 2022 Mac Studio

    The Mac Studio has a number of ports. Unlike all other desktop Macs, and even the aforementioned 27-inch iMac and iMac Pro, there are ports on the front of the Mac Studio. There are actually a dozen ports for the Mac Studio. The entire list includes:

    Rear Ports

    • Four Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports
    • Two USB-A ports
    • One HDMI port
    • One 10Gbps ethernet port
    • One 3.5mm Headphone port

    Front Ports

    • Two USB-C (Two Thunderbolt 4 with the M1 Ultra)
    • One SDXC slot

    This is a large number of ports. In fact, this is the largest number of ports that are built-in on any Mac sold today. You can easily add more ports on the Mac Pro with add-in cards, but the Mac Studio has more built-in ports than even the Mac Pro. The Mac Pro has eight included ports, as compared to the Mac Studio’s 12 included ports. <b>Note</b>, the Mac Pro does have two ports on the top of the machine, so one might argue that these are the equivalent of “front” ports, because they are very convenient for users to plugin transient items.

    The front ports on the Mac Studio can vary depending on which SoC is in the machine. For the M1 Max you will get two USB-C ports, while the M1 Max will have two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports. The reason for this is that there is more bandwidth available to support Thunderbolt on those two ports.

    The nature of technology is generally a forward march of progress. However, sometimes that forward momentum requires some legacy ports to be brought along. In 1998 when the original iMac was released there were no “legacy” ports. At the time this would have included SCSI, parallel, 3.5-inch floppy, VGA, or even standard keyboard and mouse connectors. Instead, Apple went all in on USB because it was the future of technology. In hindsight, that was the right call. PCs had included USB for a while, but they still had legacy ports as well as USB ports.

    As much as we would like to get rid of old technology it is not easy to do. Even 26 years after its initial introduction, the original USB plug, called “Type A”, is still on the Mac Studio. There are only two USB-A ports and 6 USB-C ports. If you need more than two USB-A ports, you have a couple of options, you can either get an adapter or you can get a USB-A hub to add even more ports.

    The SDXC card slot is a port that not everybody will end up using. I know I am not likely to use it, not that I will never use it, but it is not a port that I need to use on a regular basis. Both my mid-2017 iMac and early-2015 MacBook Pro both have an SDXC slot on them, and I have used them on occasion, but the times when I do use it are few and far between.

    For those who do use it regularly though, it will be much more convenient to have the SDXC card slot on the front of the Mac Studio will make it remarkably more convenient. Most particularly if you need to import or expo video files to an SD Card slot on a regular basis.

    Now, let us see how much the Mac Studio costs, if you want to contemplate purchasing one.


    Pricing

    Normally, I would look at a price comparison between the 27-inch iMac and the Mac Studio with Studio Display, but I do not think that is necessarily an appropriate comparison. The reason for this is because the Mac Studio is not only an entirely different machine, you cannot directly compare them. Sure, you could try to make an approximation, but the devices are so fundamentally different products.

    The iMac is an all-in-one device meanwhile the Mac Studio is designed to be modular, where you can use any monitor with the Mac Studio, and as mentioned earlier, you can upgrade the display and computer separately as needed.

    The Mac Studio starts at $1999 for the 10-core CPU and 24-Core GPU model, with 32GB of unified RAM and 512GB of storage.. In 2022, a computer that starts at $1999 should have at least 1TB of storage. To me, 512GB does not seem like enough storage space for the price. Unfortunately, this is typical of how Apple prices their devices.

    If you want an M1 Ultra, you can get one, but be prepared to pay quite a bit. The Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra will get you 20-core CPU, 48-Core GPU, 64GB of unified memory, and 1TB of storage. Just as many other aspects of the M1 Ultra being double the M1 Max, the price is also double. The M1 Ultra starts at $3999.

    The Mac Studio with M1 Ultra, 40CPU Cores, 64 GPU Cores, 128GB of RAM, and 8TB SSD would come to a total of $7999. You can configure just about any price between $1999 and $7999. Now, let us look at what I actually ordered.


    My Configuration

    The configuration I opted for is the 10-core CPU, 24-Core GPU model and 32GB of unified memory, which is the base configuration. I did decide to make one upgrade. I upgraded the unified storage, and I went with 2TB of storage. The 2TB of storage is less than I have in my 2017 iMac, which was a 3TB Fusion Drive. The 32GB of unified memory is more than the 24GB of total memory I have in my iMac. 

    Front view of the Mac Studio on a desk
    Front View of an early 2022 Mac Studio on a desk

    I did think about going up to 4TB, but that would have added another $600 on top of the $600 for the 2TB. Instead, I decided to stick with 2TB and if I need more storage I can use an external drive, there are plenty of drives for that.

    Another reason I went with 2TB is that I store most of my documents using iCloud, so if it really comes down to it, I can just remove the items from my Mac and keep them in iCloud. Should I need them again I can download them again. I can also keep things on an external drives if needed, and this is in addition to my other cloud backups as well.

    The reason I went with the base processor is that it is way more than I think I will need for the next five years. 32 CPU Cores and 24 GPU Cores are way more than I have had in any Mac, let alone any computer, that I have used on a regular basis. Now, let us look at Apple Silicon as a daily machine.


    Apple Silicon as a Daily Machine

    Technically, the Mac Studio is not my first Apple Silicon machine. This is because I did purchase an M1 Mac mini back in November of 2020 when they were announced. I got the base model M1 Mac mini, no upgrades. I ordered this after a friend of mine tested my app, wwriteLite, on their M1 MacBook Pro and the app was crashing.  

    The M1 Mac mini has been a test and development machine. The M1 Mac mini came in handy for my book, “iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, tvOS 15, and watchOS 8 for Users, Administrators, and Developers“, last year. The way that the M1 Mac mini was very helpful was because there were a couple of features that were only available on Apple Silicon Macs, and it was my only M1 Mac. Along with this, my 2017 iMac and 2015 MacBook Pro did not get some of the features that were introduced with macOS Monterey, so it was handy being able to use those new features when writing my book.

    Even though I have owned an M1 Mac mini, I did not use, and have not used, it on a daily basis as my primary computer. The Mac Studio is my daily machine and this is the first time I have used an Apple Silicon machine regularly. So, I thought I would share my thoughts on a few things that I have noticed while using an M1 machine every day, starting with Xcode.


    Xcode

    My day job is to work on both web apps and develop and iPadOS app that is used at work. In order to build and iPadOS app you need to use Xcode. My 2017 iMac has been what I have primarily used to develop the app we use at work. Beyond this, my 2017 iMac has been the machine that I have done all of the work on my own app, wwriteLite, since I got the iMac in July of 2017.

    Xcode app Icon
    Xcode App Icon

    I did some benchmarks for how long it took to build my app. I ran three different trials to get an average amount of time to compile. These builds were full clean builds, not incremental ones. Here are the results of those trials:

    Device Trial #1 Trial #2 Trial #3 Average
    Early-2015 MacBook Pro 141.26 115.84 121.44 126.18
    Mid-2017 iMac 61.00 49.25 46.15 52.13
    Late 2020 M1 Mac mini 32.90 28.60 30.30 30.60
    Early 2022 Mac Studio 26.30 24.92 23.18 24.80

    You can clearly see the difference between the iMac and the Mac Studio. The Mac Studio takes half as much time compile my app, and this was just for full builds. Incremental builds did not always take that long to build, but they could still take some time. While I have not done any extensive testing, I suspect that incremental builds will also be a bit faster, but I do not expect the to be twice as fast.

    Xcode contains a huge number of features. One of the most power hungry, and most problematic ones, that I encountered when doing development has been SwiftUI Previews. In case you are not aware, SwiftUI is Apple’s Swift-only framework that uses a whole different approach than traditional programming. SwiftUI uses a declarative syntax. The declarative syntax can allow you to quickly iterate by allowing you to make changes and view them instantly. When doing development on my iMac whether SwiftUI Previews would work was severely hit or miss. 

    Having used the Mac Studio for a little bit and using Xcode I can say for certain that the Mac Studio is a much better platform for using SwiftUI Previews. The Mac Studio was not only able to render my SwiftUI Previews, but it was able to do so without making the fans spin up.

    When I did an actual build of my app to run in a simulator the power usage did spike to around 50 watts, but this was brief and intermediate and when the app was actually running in the simulator the temperature of the Mac Studio was hovering around 100 degrees celsius, and the power quickly ramped back down.

    As mentioned, SwiftUI Previews can be very power hungry. If I was able to use SwiftUI Previews on my iMac, the fans would almost invariably spin up to 100%. When the fans spin up, they can generate a lot of noise, and on the topic of noise, let us discuss noise with the Mac Studio.


    Noise

    When the Mac Studio was first in the hands of individuals there were some that indicated that they could hear the fans in the Mac Studio. The fan noise did not bother some, but the Mac Studio was loud enough that it caused some people to return their Mac Studio machines. I have not been able to hear the fans, no matter what I am doing. I have not been able to make the fans spin up in day to day usage. As I stated earlier I do have iStat Menus installed and I can manually make the fans spin up, and I did just to make sure that they were functioning. But in my day to day usage I have not been able to make them spin up. Not even when I was doing my encoding tests.

    Most of the time I have not heard much noise coming out of my other Macs either. I tend to have pretty good hearing and if there is even a slight change in the fans, I typically hear it. There is a caveat to this, in order for me to hear most changes I need to not be wearing my headphones.

    When I am wearing my headphones I am not prone to hear slight changes in fan noise. However, if the fans really spin up, I will absolutely hear them, even over my music, which is not that loud. When this happens, I know something has gone awry and I need to look at it. Typically the fix is to kill whatever process is causing the excessive fan noise. The major reason that the fans turn on is to remove any excess heat from the system. Let us now look at the temperature of the Mac Studio.


    Temperature

    Internal design of the Early 2022 Mac Studio from the front
    Internal design of the Early 2022 Mac Studio from the front

    One of the things that might make fans spin up on any device is the internal temperature of the device. The reason for this is that devices need to stay cool so they do not overheat. Overheating in the computer world can lead to rather disastrous results. While it is not likely to happen these days, too much heat can cause components to get damaged and can cause systems to fail. macOS is designed to automatically adjust the fan speed as needed.

    I have iStat Menus installed to be able to keep tabs on how warm my systems get. I do not normally need to worry about desktop Macs, and I am not at all concerned about the Mac Studio. I primarily use iStat Menus on my 2015 MacBook Pro, which can get a bit warm at times, particularly if I have any JavaScript heavy webpages loaded.

    Even though I am not worried about it on the Mac Studio, I did install iStat Menus to see what temperature ranges would be shown during normal usage of the Mac Studio. Most of the time the Mac Studio is between 92 and 96 degrees celsius. This is about the same range as my 2017 iMac, but 15 degrees cooler than my 2015 MacBook Pro. If I manage to stress the CPU cores, or the GPU cores, the temperature might reach around 140 degrees celsius. I saw the Mac Studio reach this temperature when I was doing my encoding tests. Even when the temperature was that high, the fans never spun up beyond their standard idling speed of approximately 1325 rotations per minute.

    The Mac Studio is designed to stay as cool as possible. The top half of the Mac Studio is a fan assembly that will pull air from the bottom of the Mac Studio over the components, forcing the hot air to rise and be pushed out of the back of the Mac Studio. Now that we have covered the fans, let us look at another item that might make some noise, but this one is likely to be more deliberately done. That feature is the speakers.


    Speakers

    Almost every computing device sold these days has some way of providing feedback. On an iPhone and Apple Watch this can be through haptics, or the speaker. On the iPad it has to be through the speaker since there are no haptics. The same applies to the Mac Studio which only has speakers for feedback.

    The speaker on the Mac Studio is, as you might expect, functional, but far from the highest quality, but this is expected. The Mac mini and Mac Studio are not devices that people typically buy for their speaker quality. The Mac Studio speakers are decent and do have more bass than the Mac mini, but cannot compare even to my 2017 iMac speakers. Even though they are not as good as my iMac, they are are a bit better than my early-2015 MacBook Pro speakers, in that they have more bass. This is not surprising given how much more room there is for the speakers in the Mac Studio.

    The Mac Studio speakers are very functional and serviceable, particularly if you only want to listen to stuff like podcasts, but you may want something else, like a HomePod or a pair of wireless headphones, if you plan on using the Mac Studio for listening to audio. The decision to not make the Mac Studio speakers the best out there makes sense, particularly since the Mac Studio is designed to be paired with the Studio Display. If you have a Studio Display connected to the Mac Studio, those speakers are absolutely a better choice, and the way to go. On the topic of the Studio Display, let us briefly turn to using dual Studio Displays.


    Dual Studio Displays

    Dual Apple Studio Displays connected to a Mac Studio
    Picture of Dual Apple Studio Displays connected to a Mac Studio

    When Apple announced the Studio Display, it is a product that many were waiting to be released. I was amongst those who were waiting. Since I had been waiting, I ordered a Studio Display as soon as the event was over. When I ordered the Studio Display I anticipated using the Studio Display as a second monitor for my iMac. 

    Prior to receiving the Studio Display, I had been using my iMac with a 27-inch Dell monitor, so I was accustomed to having a dual-monitor setup. The 27-inch Dell is model SE2719H. This model is not a 4K monitor and it can support a maximum resolution of 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels tall. I bought this monitor in June of 2020 as a second monitor for my iMac. As mentioned in my review of the Studio Display, I completely enjoyed having a two full 5K screens on my desk. 

    Having two displays with the same resolution and overall features make things easier to handle and less jarring when moving between the windows and items on the two displays.

    When I ordered my Mac Studio I also ordered another Studio Display. I ordered the exact same configuration for the screen, which is the Studio Display with the Tilt-Adjust stand. I will not lie, I went back and forth about whether to get the second Studio Display, because I thought it might be a bit too excessive, but I ordered it none-the-less. I also debated on ordering a Studio Display with Tilt and Height Adjustable stand, but I opted to get the same one I already ordered. Now, I will be the first to state that being able to afford two Studio Displays, along with a Mac Studio, is a privilege and this is not a normal configuration for most users.

    The Mac Studio arrived before the second Studio Display, which was not expected. The delivery date range for my second Studio Display was a full week before the Mac Studio itself, but the Mac Studio arrived first. Why it arrived first, I do not know, but it surely did.

    During the time without the second Studio Display I once again used the 27-inch Dell monitor as my second monitor. Having gone back to a single 5K screen with a 1080p display as the secondary screen was, suffice to say, less than ideal. Even in the brief amount of time that I had been using the Studio Display with my iMac, I had gotten used to having two 5K screens on at the same time, and having to go back to a screen with two different resolutions made me appreciate using two monitors with the same resolution. 

    One of the downsides with having a non-Apple supported monitor is that many of the adjustments on the monitor cannot be made through macOS. Chief amounts these is the brightness of the screen. Throughout the day I end up needing to tweak the brightness of my displays to either be brighter or dimmer depending on the amount of light. Even with True Tone and Night Shift, some adjustment is necessary.

    Not being able to adjust the Dell monitor’s brightness within macOS means using the cumbersome buttons underneath the display. Another downside to using the Dell is the fact that the two displays sit at two different heights. This latter issue is a minor one, but it can be hard to find something to place under the lower monitor to bring it up to the same height as the other monitor. 

    Now having had two 5K Studio Displays for a little while has only positively reinforced my decision to buy the second Studio Display. It is quite nice having two screens that are the same height and have the exact same feature set. I fully intend to use the Studio Displays for many years. It is quite likely that I will end up replacing the Mac Studio before either one of the Studio Displays, but only time will tell on that.

    Having two identical displays really is the way to go. Even if you do not want to spend the money on multiple Apple Studio Displays, but you want two, or more, monitors, I would recommend buying the same monitors so that everything can be the same and there is no need to adjust a lot of things just to make everything work in the expectant manner.

    Next, let us move onto something else, Touch ID.


    Touch ID

    Touch ID Logo
    Touch ID Logo

    The Mac Studio has two items in the box; the Mac Studio itself and a power cord. That is it. The Mac Studio does not come with a keyboard, mouse, or any other input device, which is a departure from the 27-inch iMac and the iMac Pro, but is keeping in line with the Mac mini. You may recall that I wrote a review of the Magic Keyboard Touch ID. I did that review with my base model M1 Mac mini, mostly because it was the only computer I could use the Touch ID keyboard on. When it was connected to the M1 Mac mini, the only time I used the Touch ID sensors  to sign into the Mac mini, when I did need to connect to it and not through Screen Sharing.

    Instead of buying a new Touch ID keyboard and mouse, which I may do at some point in the future because who does not like matching colors, I decided to use my existing Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and another Magic Mouse that I already had. Since the Touch ID sensor would not work with my 2017 iMac, nor on my early-2015 MacBook Pro, this is my first experience with using Touch ID regularly on macOS.

    When I started using Touch ID on my Mac Studio I did not realize just how often I would need to fill in passwords. The iMac never prompted me for passwords, they were just automatically be filled in. Obviously having passwords automatically fill in without any biometrics is significantly less secure, but it is significantly  more convenient. As is the case with all things in modern technology, there is a trade off between convenience and security. The more convenient you typically end up making something less secure.

    It has taken me a bit of time to get used to the fact that I can log into my Mac Studio with Touch ID. I have been using may Apple Watch to unlock my Macs since I could enable the feature. However, a Mac will not unlock if the Apple Watch is locked. I am sure using Touch ID to unlock my computer will just take a bit of time to get used to and eventually it will become second nature.

    Even though it is a bit more of an inconvenience to use Touch ID, it is definitely more secure. One area where Touch ID came in the handiest is when it came to logging into the Apple website. You can use your local account’s password to authenticate with your Apple ID account. Now, with a Touch ID keyboard, I no longer have to enter in my password and I can just use the Touch ID sensor to authenticate. This interaction is so much quicker and a very welcome change.

    Next, let us try and look at some of the speed of the Mac Studio, through encoding media.


    Encoding Media

    One of the features of the M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra, are that they are designed with video encoding and decoding in mind. The unified memory system on its own would help improve encoding speeds. The real speed improvement comes with the fact that there are dedicated video engines in these processors. Specifically, there are video encode engines and two ProRes encode and decode engines built directly into the processors. For the M1 Pro there is a single dedicated ProRes encode and decode engine. While on the M1 Max there are two, and there are four on the M1 Ultra. 

    I do not use ProRes in anyway, so I am not sure if they will ultimately go unused, I suspect they might. However, what will not go unused is the encoding engine. This is because I do like to convert my physical media into digital format so I can watch it on one of my Apple TVs. 

    Ripping a DVD

    There are a number of ways of doing this. You can use something like Handbrake or FFmpeg. I prefer Handbrake myself. When I set up a new machine, I end up downloading new copies of apps, and this was definitely the case with the Mac Studio. If you use Handbrake on an Apple Silicon machine, be sure to update to the latest version, 1.5.1.

    I ended up ripping one of the DVDs that I have. It was a standard 480p DVD. For the test I used HandBrake with an external USB DVD burner that I own. The DVD burner is USB-A and I connected it directly to my Mac Studio. As a side note, hardware makers, an 8-inch cable is not long enough, not by a long stretch. You really need to include more cable length on these devices, or make it detachable and replaceable.

    The encoding maxed out at 155.18 frames per second, with an average of 119.19 frames per second. The entire encode only took 12 minutes and 13 seconds. While the DVD was encoding the temperature, as reported by iStat Menus, got up to 120 degrees and you know what, the fans did not even spin any faster. They were at around 1336 revolutions per minute, which is where they idle at.

    Compare this to the 2017 iMac, which topped out at around 150.07 frames per second and averaged 118.19 frames per second. The total time took about 12 minutes and 16 seconds. This was the same USB DVD drive, with the same piece of media, using the same version of Handbrake with the same settings. These are comparable, which seems about right because the USB DVD drive was likely the limiting factor

    The iMac did get warmer, at about 134 degrees celsius and that was with the fans on 100% at 2705 revolutions per minute. Obviously, I could hear the fans going on the iMac. Ripping from a DVD is only one option, the is another option, ripping from an image of the DVD.

    Ripping from Image

    I did another test, ripping from an image. I did two different tests, the first was ripping from the image on the internal drive to an external drive and the second was ripping from the image on the internal drive to the internal drive.

    Mid-2017 iMac

    When ripping from the DVD to an external drive, on the iMac the maximum speed was 179.81 frames per second with an average was 151.40 frames per second. Again, the iMac fan went to 100% at 2705 revolutions per minute. The ripping was done from the internal drive to an external, just as it was when ripping to DVD, as to minimize variability and this time it took 9 minutes and 32 seconds. So, this is about 3 minutes, or 25% faster.

    Just to provide one last test, I ripped from the internal drive to another file on the same drive. The statistics for that were a maximum of 200.06 frames per second with an average of 149.24 frames per second and that encoding took 9 minutes and 40 seconds.

    Mac Studio

    Now, compared to iMac,, ripping the image to an external drive on the Mac Studio had a maximum of 402.27 frames per second with an average of 330.69 frames per second and it took 4 minutes and 22 seconds to rip. The temperature did rise to 146 degrees celsius but the fans never spun up beyond their idle speeds.

    Ripping the image to local drive, from the local drive, showed a maximum of 401.33 frames per second and an average of 329.66 frames per second, all in 4 minutes and 23 seconds. The temperature was 147 degrees celsius and as expected, the fans never spun up beyond their idling speed of 1300 revolutions per minute.

    As you can see, ripping a DVD image on the Mac Studio, whether to the internal drive or an external drive was 50% faster. I do not know if it makes sense to rip a DVD to an image and then rip it, because it would take a while to rip from the DVD drive to the image, much longer than just ripping from the DVD drive directly. Overall, I think I will use the Mac Studio for ripping DVDs to my library.

    Next, let us look at some other measurements of how fast the Mac Studio is. That is through benchmarks.


    Benchmarks

    Geekbench 5 app icon
    Geekbench 5 App Icon

    All of my reviews include the obligatory benchmarks. These benchmarks all used GeekBench 5. The devices include other M1 devices, Intel Machines, and even some devices that have A-series chips. The “ML” category is for iOS and iPadOS devices only, as GeekBench has yet to release a Machine Learning app for macOS, I wish they would though. So, onto the actual benchmarks.

    Device Single Core Multi-Core ML (CPU) ML (GPU) ML (ML) Compute (Metal)
    Early 2022 Mac Studio (Max) 1760 12238 59133
    Mid-2017 27-inch iMac 1752 7780 21812
    iPhone 13 Pro Max 1715 4409 926 2467 2722 14940
    5th Gen iPad Pro 1698 7203 1021 28837 2718 21256
    6th Gen iPad mini 1598 4637 892 1885 2537 12097
    Mid-2017 27-inch iMac 1065 4188 41184
    Late 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro 1099 5388 23194
    Late 2018 Mac mini 1022 4736 4677
    iPhone X 923 2568 502 885 435 4114
    Early-2015 MacBook Pro 742 1540 5151
    iPod Touch 7th Gen 503 1074 359 552 310 2311
    iPhone 6s Plus 466 1013 326 539 284 2530

    The results are what one might expect. The M1 family of chips is based on the A14, so all of those devices have roughly similar results. The one outlier is the 6th Generation iPad mini, which has an A15 in it. The M1 line of chips are based on the A14, and the A15 should have slightly better performance, look at the iPhone 13 Pro Max which also has an A15.

    I am not sure why there is such a discrepancy, but when looking at the other Geekbench submissions, these results are inline with other 6th generation iPad mini devices.


    Closing Thoughts

    The Mac Studio is not an inexpensive machine by any stretch of ones imagination. It starts at $1999 for the M1 Max version, but can range to $7999 for the M1 Ultra with 8TB of Storage and 128GB of unified memory, and almost any price in between. Even though The Mac Studio is designed to replace both the 27-inch iMac and the 27-inch iMac Pro, the Mac Studio is not an all-in-one machine. Instead, it is modular.

    The Mac Studio is a desktop computer that was introduced with an accompanying Studio Display. Taken together these pieces can be upgraded and replaced as needed. Modularity of the Mac Studio does not stop at just the device itself. The Mac Studio is also modular in terms of storage. It is not soldered on and allows Apple to easily replace or customize the storage in the Mac Studio without needing to create different logic boards with a variety of storage options. 

    The Mac Studio is a significantly faster machine than other M1 Macs available and if you are going to purchase one, you should be quite delighted by the speed. Along with the speed, the Mac Studio is replete with external ports, including four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A, one HDMI, and one headphone jack. One thing that differentiates the Mac Studio from other Macs is that there are also ports on the front of the Mac Studio. On the front there are two USB-C ports that support USB 4 and an SDXC slot.

    If you are a developer and using an Intel-based machine, you should really look at getting a Mac running Apple Silicon. It will definitely be a game changer for development. If you prefer laptop, the 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro is a good choice, but if you want a desktop you cannot go wrong with the Mac Studio as your machine.

    If you are looking to order a Mac Studio, you might want to place your order now, many configurations have a delivery range of 10 to 12 weeks, meaning as of this writing you are looking at August for a delivery date.

  • Apple Discontinues macOS Server

    Apple Discontinues macOS Server

    Today, Apple has quietly discontinued macOS Server. I cannot say that I am surprised by this. macOS Server has long been in maintenance mode where it only gets the bare minimum of updates. Furthermore, I think the final death knell for macOS Server is the fact that Apple recently introduced Apple Business Essentials, which effectively replacing the last remaining service in macOS Server, Profile Manager. Apple Business Essentials further aides Apple in its push to be more services oriented than a product-only company.

    Ever since Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah was introduced in 2001 there has been some sort of server component. This initially started as a dedicated version of OS X Server, which was the base macOS with the additional server options. macOS Server was aimed at small and medium businesses as a way of being able to host their own website, calendar, mail, DNS, VPN, and FTP servers; among other services as well.

    Pricing for macOS has changed over the years as well. Initially, it was $500 for a 5 simultaneous users or $999 or unlimited simultaneous users. The user limitation was only for file server, all other services were unlimited. With the release of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server pricing changed to be $499 for unlimited users. This was not the final shift.

    In 2011, with the release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion the entire server model changed. Instead of being a separate version, it now became an app that anybody could install from the Mac App Store. Along with being a change to be an app, the pricing changed. The price dropped by 90% to be $49.99. This put it squarely in the realm of power user affordability. The price again dropped the next year, to just $19.99, with the introduction of Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. This absolutely put it into even home user pricing. And with the App Store update mechanism, it was easy to keep up to date.

    Over time though, Apple started removing services, in particular version 5.7.1 of macOS Server, which corresponded with macOS Mojave (10.14), was the one that cut the services down to just two, Xsan and Profile Manager. I suspect that when the decision to cut macOS Server down to just Profile Manager and Xsan, that the determination was made to create Apple Business Essentials and once it was introduced that macOS Server would be discontinued.

    I cannot argue with the fact that macOS Server’s overall utility has been slowly diminishing. Some of macOS server’s features have been rolled directly into macOS itself. These include File Server, Caching Server, and Time Machine Server. Relegating macOS Server to strictly be Profile Manager has effectively made the app a single-purpose app. I cannot fault Apple for discontinuing macOS Server, the scant resources being used to maintain the server app can now be used to continue improving Apple Business Essentials.

    Having always been a power user I will remember the early days of macOS Server fondly, but it no longer makes sense to include that into macOS, and instead allow third-parties, including Apple’s own Business Essentials service, to manage all of ones devices for them. There are many companies who sole focus is Mobile Device Management, and they are better suited for it.

    Source: Apple Support

  • Apple Announces Dates for WWDC 2022

    Apple Announces Dates for WWDC 2022

    Today Apple has announced that they will be holding their annual World Wide Developer Conference, or WWDC.. The theme for this year is “Call to code“. WWDC will again be held in an all-online format starting June 6th and going through June 10th. This will be the third year for this all-online format. Even though this year’s WWDC is all-online, Apple is branching out to bring some in-person aspects to the conference.

    “In addition to the online conference, Apple will host a special day for developers and students at Apple Park on June 6 to watch the keynote and State of the Union videos together, along with the online community. Space is limited and details on how to apply to attend will be provided soon.”

    WWDC 2022 will be free for anyone to watch during and after the conference. There is one aspect to WWDC that has become a tradition, the Swift Student Challenge.

    Swift Student Challenge

    Apple WWDC 2022 - Swift Student Challenge

    For the third year in a row Apple is holding the “Swift Student Challenge”. The Swift Student Challenge is designed to provide students an opportunity to create a Swift Playground and show it off. The requirements are the same as last year, which were:

    Build your Swift Playgrounds app project, answer a few written prompts, provide documentation, and submit. To be eligible for the Challenge, you must:

    • Be 13 years of age or older in the United States, or the equivalent minimum age in the relevant jurisdiction (for example, 16 years of age in the European Union);
    • Be registered for free with Apple as an Apple developer or be a member of the Apple Developer Program; and
    • Fulfill one of the following requirements:
      • Be enrolled in an accredited academic institution or official homeschool equivalent;
      • Be enrolled in a STEM organization’s educational curriculum;
      • Be enrolled in an Apple Developer Academy; or
      • Have graduated from high school or equivalent within the past 6 months and be awaiting acceptance or have received acceptance to an accredited academic institution.

    There is additional information about requirements on the WWDC 2022 Student Challenge page. This can be found on the Apple developer site.

    It will be interesting to see what Apple unveils at WWDC, which is just about two months away. Per my usual, I will have some predictions about what Apple will unveil as it gets closer to the WWDC 2022 keynote.

    Source: Apple News

  • Apple’s Business Essentials Service Now Live in the United States

    Apple’s Business Essentials Service Now Live in the United States

    Yesterday Apple announced that their Business Essentials product, which was announced in November of 2021, is now available for all small businesses in the United States.

    To recap, the Business Essentials service allows companies to have a one-stop place to manage not only user accounts and devices, but also with the possibility of getting AppleCare+ support on devices. This includes 24/7 technical support that your employees or IT staff can use to get support from Apple for both devices and software.

    Beyond this, Apple Small Business Essentials comes with dedicated iCloud storage for documents, collaboration, and general storage. Along with this, any business data is automatically backed up to iCloud so upgrading devices, or changing to a new device, simple and easy. This is made possible through the use of a managed Apple ID, which allows for the separation of work and personal data.

    Apple Devices showing the Apple Business Essentials management interface

    Prices for Business Essentials range from $2.99 per user per month to $24.99 per user per month, depending on devices, storage, and AppleCare. Here are the features that you can get, and at which price point.

    Devices iCloud Storage Repair Credit Cost per month
    1 50GB None $2.99
    1 50GB 1 $9.99
    3 200GB None $6.99
    3 200GB 2 $19.99
    3 2TB None $12.99
    3 2TB 2 $24.99

    For those plans that include repair credits, that can be on-site repair, in some markets. This means that the device can be able to be repaired quickly and the employee can get back to doing their work as soon as possible.

    If you are interested, you can learn more about Apple’s Business Essentials at the service’s dedicated website.

    Source: Apple News

  • My First Mac: 15 Years Later

    My First Mac: 15 Years Later

    This article continues the series that I started earlier this year called “15 Years Later”. The series is intended to look back at 2007 and many of the big things that happened in relation to technology, at least in my life.

    So far I have covered the following:

    Next in the series relates to the Windows Vista article, and that is my first Mac. We will get to my first Mac in a bit, but before that let us look at a brief history of my interactions and usage of Apple products prior to 2007.

    A Brief History with Apple and their products

    One of the things that Apple did during the 1980s and 1990s was try to get Macs into schools. Because of this many people’s first interactions with Apple were through these computers. I am no exception. Throughout school we had Macs, not everywhere, but we definitely had labs of Macs. Some of these included Apple IIs. I remember playing Oregon Trail on the green screens.

    We did have a hand-me-down Apple II at home for a while and we played some games on it, games like Into the Eagles Nest, Oregon Trail, and others. However, we also had PCs where we used those most often.

    Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s we had PCs, all Gateway computers in fact. Since we had PCs, I did not have much interaction with Apple and Macs until around February of 2005 when I needed up buying a 1st generation iPod mini. This was after the 2nd generation had been introduced. I managed to get an iPod Mini on sale. So this was my first actual Apple device that I bought.

    It was not that I was not aware of Apple products, I was. However, as mentioned, I was using PCs at the time. Including purchasing Windows Vista, which was a complete disaster when it launched. Because of my significant issues with Vista, I started looking more intently at the Mac.

    On March 28th, 2007 I bought my first Mac. Before I dive into my recollections of the iMac, let us look at what led me to getting the iMac.

    Deciding on the Mac

    There were many things that lead me to getting the iMac. The biggest of these was the fact that it had an Intel processor. What this meant is that I could run Windows either via virtualization or natively via Apple’s Boot Camp functionality.

    At the time, I distinctly thinking that if I was to get a Mac I would definitely want it to be an Intel-based one so that I could run Windows if I needed. If it did manage to turn out that I did not necessarily want to use the Mac, I could always just boot into Windows and use the iMac as a Windows computer.

    I do remember looking at a Mac mini as an option, but the specs on the 20-inch iMac were higher than what was possible on the Mac mini. Therefore, I decided to get an iMac.

    My First iMac

    As I posted at the time, the first Mac that I purchased was a 20-inch Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with a 128MB ATI Radeon x1600 dedicated graphics card, with 1GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive.

    Late 2006 20-inch Intel iMac

    I remember wanting the 24-inch model, but it was more than I wanted to spend at the time. The 20-inch iMac had decent specs. At the time 250GB of storage was enough for what I needed.

    The 250GB hard drive would allow me to store a lot of data, including having enough space to carve out for Windows, whether using Parallels or Bootcamp. On the topic of Windows, let us look at that briefly.

    Windows

    As mentioned above, one of the reasons I opted to get an Intel-based Mac was to be able to run Windows, in some form, should I need to. There are two ways to be able to run Windows on an Intel-based Mac. You can either use virtualization, using software like Parallels, VMWare Fusion, or even VirtualBox or by using Apple’s Bootcamp.

    Virtualization allows you to run both macOS and Windows at the same time. When you run Windows within macOS is considered the “host” operating system, while Windows is the “guest” operating system. This technique works well if you have Windows-only software that you need to run, but you still want to be able to use your Mac apps at the same time.

    Meanwhile, Apple’s Bootcamp will allow you to run Windows natively on a Mac. This means that you will not be able to access any of the Mac apps, nor run them, because using Bootcamp means that you are booting directly into Windows, and not macOS.

    I remember installing Windows in Bootcamp on the iMac. Instead of installing Windows Vista, I ended up installing Windows XP. I did not suspect I would have the same drivers issues that I was experiencing on Windows Vista itself, because Apple was the one who wrote the drivers for Bootcamp, and they surely did not want users to have a bad experience.

    Speaking of macOS, let us look at some of the things that were on macOS at the time.

    macOS

    The 20-inch iMac that I purchased in 2007 was running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Tiger included a number of features, like Spotlight, iChat, and Dashboard. It would support four different

    I remember thinking that macOS was significantly different than Windows, and it was then, and it still is even today. Coming from Windows it was initially tough to adjust to the different paradigm of how things are setup on macOS. One thing that many people did not necessarily need to deal with in Windows, at least at home, is permissions. Most macOS users do not need to worry about them either, but given the Unix underpinnings of macOS, power users may need some basic knowledge of permissions.

    Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger DVD Install disc

    The Late 2006 20-inch iMac came with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, but it would support up to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, which was released in 2011. Just about five years of support for a desktop in the mid-to-late 2000s was more than most could

    It did take some time, but eventually I got comfortable with the way things worked with the Mac. There is one particular set of apps I want to discuss, and those are text editors. So let us look those next.

    Text Editors

    I distinctly remember being both excited and disoriented at the same time. The way macOS works is different than Windows. Beyond that, the applications were significantly different.

    Safari has come pre-installed with macOS for over 20 years now. It is the default browser, and the one that I use more often than any other, even to this day. The web is the web and things all worked the same. However, one area where things are vastly different is when it comes to programming tools.

    When using Windows I primarily ended up using Notepad for almost all of my code editing. When I started using the iMac, I figured I would use the same technique. In the case of macOS, the text editor is TextEdit.

    While this worked, I figured there had to be a better option. I started looking around and eventually stumbled across TextWrangler. TextWrangler was the free version of Bare Bones’ software BBEdit. TextsWrangler has since stopped being updated, but there is a free evaluation version of BBEdit.

    Upgrading Hardware

    Most of today’s Apple products cannot be upgraded in any way. As of this writing, which is just after Apple’s “Peek Performance” event, there are only two device that can be upgraded. The Intel-based Mac mini and that is the 2019 Mac Pro. Back in 2007 this was not the case. Almost all of Apple’s computers could be upgraded.

    It was not long before I ended up adding additional memory within two weeks of getting the iMac. I thought it was longer, but it was about 10 days, according to this post.

    Replace Memory in 2006 iMac

    The upgrade procedure was quite straight forward.

    1. Turn off and unplug the iMac
    2. Unscrew the two screws at the bottom of the iMac to expose the memory. The screws did not come out of the cover.
    3. Remove the cover.
    4. Pull the two tabs to pop out the memory.
    5. Put in the new memory.
    6. Replace cover.
    7. Secure the screws on the cover.
    8. Plug back in and turn on the iMac.

    If done properly, it would be an easy upgrade. And so that is what I ended up doing, upgrading the memory. There was a limitation of the Late 2006 20-inch iMac is that it was a 32-bit systems. This meant that the maximum amount of memory that the system could address was 3GB of RAM, technically 3.22GB. Additionally, with only two slots of memory, this meant that the iMac could have a 1GB and a 2GB memory module to get the maximum amount of memory. Technically, you could install two 2GB modules, but again, the maximum memory was 3.22GB. If you needed that extra 220MB of memory, it could be a worthy upgrade.

    The 1GB that came with the iMac would have been enough for just running macOS, but having the 2GB of memory would be needed to run Parallels. This was actually a prudent decision on my part, because the next version of macOS, Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard needed 2GB of RAM to run.

    The Screen

    I no longer have the 20-inch iMac in my possession, so I can not verify , but if I recall properly the screen was not of the best quality. Yes, it was 20 inches diagonally and it worked well, for the time. At this point in time though. I do not know if I could even handle a 24-inch screen, let alone a 20-inch screen, I have become way too accustomed to having a 27-inch monitor

    Closing Thoughts

    I do not regret getting the 20-inch iMac back in 2007. It was a good machine for the time and allowed me to learn a new operating system, yet at the same time move away from the problems of Windows Vista. The answer was the iMac.

    The Late 2006 20-inch iMac will always have a special place in the computers I have owned. This is because it was my foray into the world of Macs and macOS. The iMac I bought in 2007 was not the last Apple product, let alone Mac, that I would buy during the year. But those are products for posts later in the year.

    The picture below is from the box for the iMac, even though I do not have the iMac itself, I still do have the box. It makes a great place to put things on that are not too heavy.

    Late 2006 20 Inch Includes
    Links

    Apple Newsroom: Apple iMac Line Now Features Intel Core 2 Duo Processors In Every Model – September 6, 2006.

  • Apple Studio Display: A Review

    Apple Studio Display: A Review

    Apple touts that its products are of high quality. For the vast majority of cases, this is true. No matter how much quality assurance is done, there are always going to be individual exceptions to having quality products. I do not mean lines of products, although sometimes that happens. What I mean is that individual items end up going bad. No matter how hard a company tires, it is just the way with modern manufacturing. Apple started out as a computer company, and has since transitioned away from being a computer company to be a general technology company, and is attempting to move towards being a services company.

    Most of Apple’s modern devices are all-in-one devices. Some examples are the iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and MacBook Air. These devices all come with displays built-in. For all of these, except the Apple Watch, you can plug in the device into an external monitor if you so choose. Most people who have an iPad or iPhone may use AirPlay, but sometimes that is not always possible and instead connecting directly is the way to go. Before we dive into Apple’s latest standalone display, let us look back at a short history of Apple’s previous displays.


    Apple Display History

    Standalone displays are not a new product line for Apple. The first computers that Apple created did not include a monitor and instead users were instructed to plug the computer into their television. This changed in 1980 when Apple unveiled the “Apple III”. The Apple III included a Cathode Ray Tube, or CRT, monitor. Apple would continue to offer CRT monitors for sale with computers until the late 1990s. At this point Apple began a switch away from CRT monitors to flat-panel monitors. These would not be the first Liquid Crystal Display, or LCD monitors. The first LCDs were used with the Mac Portable line of computers during the mid to late 1990s. Most did not have any experience with these because most users purchased desktop computers.

    Apple Studio Display from 1998

    The standalone displays produced by Apple have had a long history and have shifted over the years. Over the last 25 years there have been 16 different models of standalone display sold by Apple. Most have been flat-panel models, however there have been a few CRT-based models. Here is a list of all of the released Standalone displays with the introduction and end dates. The list includes:

    • Apple Studio Display – 15-inch – March 1998 – January 1999
    • Apple Studio Display – 17-inch (CRT) – January 1999 – May 2002
    • Apple Studio Display – 21-inch (CRT) – January 1999 – January 2000
    • Cinema Display – 22-inch – September 1999 – July 2000
    • Cinema Display – 22-inch – July 2000 – June 2003
    • Apple Studio Display – 15-inch – July 2000 – January 2003
    • Apple Studio Display – 17-inch – May 2001 – January 2004
    • Cinema HD Display – 23-inch – March 2002 – June 2004
    • Cinema Display – 20-inch – January 2003 – June 2004
    • Cinema Display – 20-inch – June 2004 – February 2009
    • Cinema HD Display – 23-inch – June 2004 – November 2008
    • Cinema HD Display – 30-inch – June 2004 – July 2010
    • LED Cinema Display – 24-inch – October 2008 – July 2010
    • LED Cinema Display – 27-inch – July 2010 – December 2013
    • Thunderbolt Display – 27-inch – July 2011 – June 2016
    • Pro Display XDR – 32-inch – December 2019 – Currently Available

    If you look at each of these displays, you may notice that each display type was not on the market for that long. The longest was the 30-inch Cinema Display, which was around for just over six years. The next longest available was the Thunderbolt Display, which was just about five years. Most models were only around for a year or two. We will not dive into all of these different models, but we will look at three models. In order we will look at the Thunderbolt Display, the LG UltraFine displays, and the Pro Display XDR. The reason for these two in particular will be shown. But before we dive into each of those, there is a quick side topic that I want to cover, Target Display Mode.


    Target Display Mode

    One of the features that Apple included in Macs between 2009 and 2014 was a feature called Target Display Mode. Target Display mode was a way of being able to connect a Mac to an iMac and use the iMac as a display for the other Mac. This function worked well when using a MacBook or MacBook Pro, and using an old iMac. Target Display Mode only worked for iMac between 2009 and mid-2014. You can check out the Apple support article all about Target Display Mode.

    The big change that happened with iMacs released after mid-2014 is that the screen resolution of iMacs improved to become “Retina”. The late 2014 iMac came in two sizes, 21.5-inch and 27-inch. The 21.5-inch was 4K and the 27-inch was 5K. Both of these required a custom timing controller. This timing controller meant that the iMac could no longer be used as a second display for a Mac.

    When I got my Early 2015 iMac, I remember using my mid-2011 iMac as a second display for the laptop. It worked quite well and when I needed a larger screen it was a nice thing to have. There are third-party solutions, like Luna Display, which can take an iMac and make it into a second display. Before you delve down this, you may want to read about Adam Engst’s experience at Tidbits.com or Allison Sheradin’s experience at Podfeet.com.

    Now, let us look at one of Apple’s standalone displays, the Thunderbolt Display.


    Thunderbolt Display

    Apple Thunderbolt Display

    The Thunderbolt Display was introduced in July of 2011 and Apple stopped selling it as of June 2016. The Thunderbolt Display was a 27-inch in-plane switching, or IPS, paneled display. It had a resolution of 2560×1440, so just slightly higher than High Definition. The Thunderbolt Display was an improvement over previous versions because it was intentionally designed to be used with a MacBook or MacBook Pro. It was not just designed to be able to connect to a MacBook or MacBook Pro, but the Thunderbolt Display included a MagSafe power adapter that would allow you to charge a MacBook Pro when it was connected to the Thunderbolt Display.

    One of the advertising aspects of the Thunderbolt Display is that there were two cables total, the Thunderbolt cable with MagSafe connector, and the power cable. The Thunderbolt Display was more than just a display, it was actually a hub. If you connected the Thunderbolt Display to a Mac, you could plugin some peripherals with the provided ports and the devices would be connected to the Mac. The available ports on the Thunderbolt Display were three USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire 800 port, another Thunderbolt Port, and a gigabit ethernet port.

    Ports on an Apple Thunderbolt Display

    Almost six years ago, on June 23, 2016, Apple announced, through a statement, that it was discontinuing the Thunderbolt Display and they would no longer produce standalone displays. At the time they stated,

    “We’re discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display. It will be available through Apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users”.

    Apple would continue to sell the Thunderbolt Display until supplies ran out. Apple clearly stated that they were getting out of the standalone display business. Instead of making their own displays Apple decided to partner with LG to make some displays. Let us look the LG UltraFine displays next.


    LG UltraFine

    When Apple introduced the 27-inch 5K Retina iMac in 2014 many were hoping that Apple would eventually release an “iMac without the computer”, meaning just the screen. However, this did not happen. Instead, as mentioned above, Apple partnered with LG to make displays that were not only compatible with Macs, but also sold by Apple in its physical stores as well as their online store.

    The reason that they chose LG is because LG was already in the display manufacturing business. Secondly, LG was the company that built the actual panels that were used for Apple’s 4K and 5K Retina displays in the iMac; therefore it made sense to partner with LG to make the displays.

    The LG UltraFine monitors came in two sizes, a 21.5-inch 4K model with a resolution of 3840-by-2160, and a 27-inch 5K model with a resolution of 5120-by-2880 pixels. These resolutions are the same as the 4K and 5K Retina iMacs. The screens also included support for the P3 color gamut, meaning that colors are brighter and more vibrant than standard Red Green Blue color space.

    LG UltraFine 5K Display

    The LG UltraFine monitors also featured a Thunderbolt 3 connector and a USB Hub to connect up to three USB-C devices. The USB-C ports are USB 3.1 generation 1, which are capable of up to 5 gigabits per second. As you may notice, this is very similar to the functionality of Apple’s Thunderbolt Display, just by a third-party manufacturer.

    Also similar to the Thunderbolt Display you could charge a MacBook or MacBook Pro. The 4K model could charge up to 60 watts and the 5k Model could charge up to 85 watts. These two wattages means that you could easily charge any of Apple’s MacBooks.

    In May of 2019 some changes were made. The 21.5-inch 4K model was replaced by 23.7-inch 4K model. The power from the monitor was increased to 85 watts. The 27-inch model was updated in July of 2019. The changes for this model were increased power to 94 watts, and this added support for the iPad Pro.

    The LG UltraFine monitors were not completely well received, at least not by everyone.

    LG UltraFine Critiques

    There were some critiques of the UltraFine monitors. The most notable is that if you had a 27-inch LG UltraFine that was too close to a wireless router, including the Apple AirPort, the screen would go black and become unusable. LG did fix this by adding additional shielding to models produced after February 2017.

    There was another issue that has not been satisfyingly fixed, and that is that the monitor does not always sit properly on the stand. What happens is that the stand ends up wobbling whenever it is touched. This can make using the UltraFine less than ideal.

    In June of 2019 at their World Wide Developer’s Conference, Apple unveiled a brand new Mac Pro with its complement Display, the Pro Display XDR.


    Pro Display XDR

    Introduced in June of 2019, the Pro Display XDR was the first Apple standalone display in three years. The Pro Display XDR took the 5K Retina screen and made it bigger. The Pro Display XDR is a 32-inch 6K monitor with a resolution of 6016 by 3384. The “XDR” portion within the name stands for Extreme Dynamic Range. Dynamic Range, in relation to color, is the range from smallest value and the largest value. In this case, it is in terms of color range.

    Similar to the Thunderbolt Display and the LG UltraFine, the Pro Display XDR can also be used as a USB hub, USB-C to be exact. However, unlike the Thunderbolt and LG UltraFine these ports are USB 2 speed, except when using a 16-inch MacBook Pro, where they are USB 3.1 generation 1, or 5 gigabits per second. So, in reality these ports are better used for charging or for devices that are not speed-sensitive. The reason for this is because the bandwidth for Thunderbolt 3 is used up by the display to make sure it gets the full 6K screen resolution.

    Apple Pro Display XDR with stand

    When the Pro Display XDR was introduced Apple mentioned that it was a display that could be used as a replacement for $40,000 reference monitors that are used by video professionals to make sure they are getting accurate color within their video or photos. Color is not the only reference mode that you can do with the Pro Display XDR. The complete list of reference modes includes:

    • Pro Display XDR (P3-1600 nits)
    • Apple Display (P3-500 nits)
    • HDR Video (P3-ST 2084)
    • HDTV Video (BT.709-BT.1886)
    • NTSC Video (BT.601 SMPTE-C)
    • PAL and SECAM Video (BT.601 EBU)
    • Digital Cinema (P3-DCI)
    • Digital Cinema (P3-D65)
    • Design and Print (P3-D50)
    • Photography (P3-D65)
    • Internet and Web (sRGB)

    Beyond reference modes the Pro Display XDR has some additional features that can be found on other Apple devices. This includes, Night Shift and True Tone both adjust the color. Night Shift automatically adjusts the color temperature of the display as the day progresses to the warmer end of the spectrum, so this is easier on the eyes.

    True Tone will take the light levels around you and adjust the temperature of the screen to be close to the light in the area surrounding you. This is designed to make the color appear more natural.

    The Pro Display XDR also supports Dolby HDR 10 and Hybrid-Lag Gamma (HLG) playback for video. Along with this, the Pro Display XDR supports various refresh rates, including 47.95Hz, 48.00Hz, 50.00Hz, 59.94Hz, and 60.00Hz. These refresh rates are standards that are used for both National Television System Committee, or NTSC, and Phase Alternating Line, or PAL, standards.

    The Pro Display XDR is a standalone display that has some advanced features. The Pro Display XDR is designed for professionals and has the professional price. The Pro Display XDR starts at $4999 to be exact, and that is without a stand. You have two options for stands, the Pro Stand or the VESA mount. The Pro Stand will add an additional $999 and the VESA mount adds $199.

    There is an alternative screen technology, which is an option for the Pro Display XDR. That technology Apple calls “Nano Texture”. Nano Texture is an advanced glass technology that is etched directly into the glass and it is not another layer on the glass. Nano Texture is designed for those places that have direct sunlight or changing lighting conditions where being able to see the screen in all conditions is needed. For most users though, Nano Texture glass is not needed, but for those that need it, it is an option.

    Therefore, the base model Pro Display XDR and the professional stand brings the total price up to $5999 for both. The Nano Texture price will add another $1000. Many people want to get an Apple standalone display, but cannot afford, nor justify, the entry price. However, there is now a product that more people can afford called the Studio Display. Now, let us look at the Studio Display.


    Studio Display

    Apple Studio Display on a desk.

    As mentioned earlier, many Mac users have been hoping Apple to take the screen out of the 27-inch iMac and just put it into a standalone display, which is basically the iMac without the computer. When Apple announced that it was no longer making standalone displays, many figured that Apple would not end up doing this. Furthermore, Apple has done just this, and then some. Before we dive into the display itself, let us look at the name.


    Name

    The Studio Display was introduced at the same time as the Mac Studio computer, so the common word of “Studio” makes sense and the two products are very complementary. Long time Mac observers may recognize the name “Studio Display”, because it is not the first time that Apple has used the name “Studio Display” before.

    The name of “Studio Display” was used previously in 1998 when it was used for the 15-inch flat panel LCD that was introduced with the G4 Cube. This was the start of a series of flat-panel and cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors that ranged from a 15-inch screen to a 22″ model.

    Beyond the name, each of the Apple Studio Displays had a commonality between all of the displays. That commonality was that they were all in the same ratio, 4:3. The various models had different connections. Some had DVI, others had ADC. The 17-inch Apple Studio Display was the last model available, but was ultimately discontinued in 2004. The replacement was Apple’s Cinema Display line, which was a line of widescreen displays.

    It has been almost 18 years since the name was last used, and with a new display, it makes sense to use the name again. Now that the name has been covered, let us look at the devices that you can use with the Studio Display.


    Supported Devices

    There are a number of devices that fully support the Studio Display. These include:

    • Mac Studio (2022)
    • 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019 or later)
    • 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021)
    • 13-inch MacBook Pro (2016 or later)
    • 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016 or later)
    • MacBook Air (2018 or later)
    • Mac mini (2018 or later)
    • Mac Pro (2019 or later)
    • 24-inch iMac (2021)
    • 27-inch iMac (2017 or later)
    • 21.5-inch iMac (2017 or later)
    • iMac Pro (2017)

    Macs are not the only devices that support the Studio Display. You can also connect an iPad to the Studio Display. There are only a few iPad models that are supported. The complete list includes:

    • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later)
    • iPad Pro 11-inch
    • iPad Air (5th generation)

    The reason that there are only a few models that support the Studio Display is because each of the iPads has an M1 processor. The M1 has Thunderbolt support. In order to be able to support the full 5K resolution, as well as being able to support charging, you need enough power and bandwidth. Other devices, like the iPad mini, only supports USB-C, so it only has 5 gigabits per second for bandwidth. This just is not enough to handle 5K resolution. The 5K resolution for the Studio Display needs 14.75 gigabits per second. With this whole discrepancy you can see that USB-C just does not have enough bandwidth for the display.

    When you do connect one of the supported iPads to the Studio Display you will likely see the iPad screen mirrored to the display. It is possible that some apps will display a different screen than the main app, but the developer needs to explicitly code this into their app to fully support external displays.

    Now that we have looked at what devices can be used with the Studio Display, let us look at what drives the Apple Studio Display.


    Display Driver

    Every display that you use, no matter how small or large, nor how basic or how advanced, needs some sort of mechanism to actually run the display.

    You might think that a display is a very basic item. All that the display would need to do is take the video signal from the Mac and put it upon the screen. If this was the case, it might be easy enough to just use an off-the-shelf part. However, with the Studio Display that is not Apple’s approach.

    Apple could have developed an entirely custom chip, with its own custom firmware, just for the Studio Display, but it was not necessary to do, because Apple already had developed a chip that would be able to handle all most of the features of the Studio Display, That chip is one that Apple has used for a number of its products. The Studio Display has an A13 processor in it, and it is the same processor found in the 9th generation 10.2-inch iPad, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, and 2nd generation iPhone SE.

    Even though Apple included an A13, they could have created a custom operating system, or firmware, just for the Studio Display, but they did not. Instead, they are using iOS, yes, iOS to run the Studio Display. You can actually check the firmware version of your Studio Display by using the following steps:

    1. Click on the Apple Menu.
    2. Click on “About the Mac”.
    3. Click on “System Report” to bring up the system report.
    4. Click on “Graphics/Displays”. Each of the graphics cards and displays should be shown.
    5. Under Studio Display, locate the line that says “Display Firmware Version”.
    Apple Studio Display information within macOS System Report

    This is the firmware version. As of this writing my Studio Display has Version 15.4 (Build 19E241). This is the same build as iOS and iPadOS 15.4. From time to time, you may need to update the firmware in your Studio Display, so let us look at that next.


    Updating Firmware

    The Studio Display will likely need to be updated to improve features and functions. It is possible to think that there might be a dedicated app to update the firmware, but that is not Apple’s approach to this. Instead, you update the firmware for the Studio Display as you would any other update to macOS, by going to Software Update. If there is an update it will appear in “Software Update” in system preferences. Once the update has been downloaded and installed, the Studio Display will reboot to complete the installation of the firmware.

    Studio Display firmware update

    There is an Apple support article that was published on March 19th, 2022 which outlines the process as well. The update took about 10 minutes total from the time I started the download to the time macOS booted up again. You will need to reboot your Mac, because the firmware on the Studio Display will need to be updated when macOS is not running. After I updated my Studio Display, it was running 15.4 (Build 19E241).

    There are a lot of things that the A13 is used for, and with iOS running on the display, it . One of the most important reasons that Apple included an A13 was for one of the features of the Studio Display, the camera, so let us look at that next.


    Camera

    One feature that the Studio Display has, that the Pro Display XDR does not, is a built-in camera. The camera on the Studio Display is a 12 megapixel ultra-wide camera, the same one that is on the 5th generation iPad Air.

    The A13 processor contains an image signal processor. The image signal processor is used to process the signal coming from the camera and then applying various filters, and then sends them to the display to be shown through whichever app needs the camera. On the topic of the camera, let us look at the specs.

    The camera has a 122 degree field of view with an ƒ/2.4 aperture. These specifications allow a device to support feature Apple calls Center Stage. Center Stage is a feature that will automatically follow anybody in the view of the camera, so they remain the focus of the view. This is possible because the camera will automatically move in and out as the focus of the screen changes. This is the same feature that is on the following devices:

    • 5th Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro
    • 3rd Generation 11-inch iPad Pro
    • 9th generation 10.2-inch iPad
    • 6th generation 7.9-inch iPad mini
    • 5th generation 10.9-inch iPad Air

    The Studio Display is the first non-iPad device to support Center Stage. As of this writing, there are no Macs that support Center Stage, just iPhones and iPads. Even though the Mac does not natively support Center Stage, if you have a Mac connected it will support Center Stage through the Studio Display.

    I am not one who uses cameras for video calls that often. The only time I generally do is for work. For those I use my work issued MacBook Pro.

    I did do some testing with the camera, and I did see that the camera did seem to have some artifacts when I was using it. What I mean by this is that the the image did not seem to be as crisp as it could have been. Instead, it was blocky and not what many would suspect from Apple’s hardware.

    Other reviewers who had the product before me have stated that Apple has acknowledged that there are issues and they will be releasing a firmware update in the future.

    Let us now look at something that is related to the camera, or at least is used in conjunction with the camera. That item is the microphones.


    Microphones

    The Studio Display has an array of three microphones. These are used with the camera to provide audio for FaceTime calls, or any other app that uses the camera. According to Apple, the microphones have a high signal-to-noise ratio. What this means is that the higher the signal to noise ratio the clearer the audio will be.

    Beyond the high signal-to-noise ratio, the microphones also have directional beamforming. Beamforming is used to be able to cancel out background noise, all while picking up the person speaking. This will be very useful when on FaceTime or other video calls, because any background noise will be removed which should help make your voice as clear as possible.

    The microphones are not only used for video calls. The Studio Display has another feature, it supports “Hey Siri”.


    Hey Siri

    Back in April of 2010 it was announced that Apple purchased an app called “Siri”. When Apple purchased the Siri app it continued to be available on the store. With the introduction of the iPhone 5S in October of 2011 Apple released a version of Siri built into iOS.

    Starting in 2014 iOS and iPadOS devices could actually use a new feature called “Hey Siri”, without needing to touch the device itself. This was only supported on iPhone 6s and later. The list of supported iPads for “Hey Siri” include:

    • iPad Air (3rd generation) and later
    • iPad mini (5th generation) and later
    • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation) and later
    • iPad Pro (10.5-inch)
    • iPad Pro (9.7-inch)
    • iPad Pro (11-inch) all generations
    • iPad (6th generation) or later

    iPhone and iPads are not the only devices that now support Hey Siri. The other devices that support it are HomePod, AirPods 2nd generation or later, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Apple Watch, various Beats models, MacBook Pros (2018 and later), MacBook Air (2018 and later), iMac Pro, iMac (2020 and later). You can add one more device, the Studio Display.

    As mentioned above, the Studio Display uses an A13. One thing that the A13 can do is be used for “Hey Siri” on the device. Having Hey Siri on the Studio Display means that you can get information regardless of which Mac is connected. This means that you can ask Siri to get the current weather, sports scores, or any of the general facts that Siri is able to retrieve for you.

    The Apple Studio Display is not only for displaying things or being able to use FaceTime, but it can also be used to connect things, so let us look at what you can connect to the Apple Studio Display.


    Connectivity

    Much along the lines of LG UltraFine displays, the Studio Display can be used for more than just a display. The Studio Display can also be used as a USB hub for connecting additional devices. You can connect up to three USB-C devices. The three USB-C ports are capable of handling up to 10 gigabits per second, which is twice as fast as the LG UltraFine monitors was capable of.

    Apple Studio Display Ports

    To make things easier, there is a Thunderbolt cable included with the Apple Studio Display. This cable is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 ports so you can connect the Studio Display to any compatible Mac or iPad. The maximum bandwidth for Thunderbolt 3 is 34.56 gigabits per second. The math is a lot of multiplication, but if you are not using any compression, running at the native resolution of 5120 by 2880, with 12 bits of color, the entire link can become saturated.

    It is not likely that the peripherals will get the full 10 gigabits per second throughput. This is because the video will get priority for the bandwidth from the Mac to the Studio Display. This makes sense because any configuration that would have the video become distorted would negate the entire purpose of having the display. Instead, it makes more sense to have the throughput of peripherals drop down and become slower, because you are less likely to notice a speed drop in peripherals, where you would if the display is distorted.


    Power Cord

    As of right now items without batteries still needs to be physically connected to power. Technology has not progressed enough to have perfected wireless power, and I do not mean Qi charging, that is more inductive charging than true wireless charging. The power cable on the Studio Display is directly connected with no way of being able to remove it. This is not the first time that Apple has used this approach with its products. There are two recent products that do not have removable power cables, the HomePod and HomePod mini.

    For the HomePods, one could argue that it makes sense because those two products are speakers that might cause some issues if the power cables were removable. It would also add some bulk to the product and likely interfere with the acoustics of the speakers if there was a bulky power cable coming out one of the sides of the HomePod.

    The thing with the Studio Display is that that argument does not hold up. The Studio Display is a large product, so it should also have a removable power cable. All of Apple’s previous displays, including the Pro Display XDR have had a removable power cable. Laptops, obviously, need to have them, but all iMacs have had a removable power cable.

    I have a couple of theories as to why there is no removable power cord on the Studio Display, plug placement. My guess is that there is not much space left on the interior of the Studio Display that would allow a power plug to be exposed to the back of the display. The second theory is that this may be the approach going forward. For devices like displays, HomePods, and other “appliance” devices that are not portable, have the cable built right into the device without being able to remove it.

    What I do find interesting with this is that Apple could have placed the power plug anywhere. They did not put it directly center on the Pro Display XDR, so it could have been an option to place the power cord anywhere along the back of the device.

    Friend, and editor of my books, Barry Sullivan has his own theory. He thinks it is a cost cutting decision. Having a power cord that is hardwired to the display is just plain wrong. The cost of repairing a damaged cord is expensive. What does one do for a display on their computer while waiting for repairs?

    Regardless of why Apple decided to do this, it could be problematic for some users. There are instances when you want to be able to have either a longer power cord, or a shorter one, depending on need. Since that is not an option with the Studio Display, there will likely be a loop of extra cable.

    That covers the connectivity, so let us move onto the speakers.


    Speakers

    If you were to look at all sorts of monitors, one thing that you might notice is that most monitors do not have speakers on them. This is the case for a couple of reasons. First, including them would make monitor and the internals a bit more complex. Secondly, for most people the price of the monitor is a factor when it comes to which monitor to purchase. Therefore, any speakers that would be included with the monitor would increase the price of the monitor, again price is a major factor for most users. Furthermore, any speakers that would be included would likely not be of the highest quality, because while a differentiation, it increases the price of the monitor. Lastly, and somewhat related, many who want good speakers will have a separate pair of external speakers, therefore including them are are not worthwhile. If you do manage to find a monitor that has speakers in it, they are very likely going to be basic stereo speakers.

    Unlike the Pro Display XDR, the Studio Display does have speakers built-in. Over the last few years Apple has steadily been improving the speakers in all of their products. The Studio Display has a six-speaker system, similar to that of the MacBook Pro.

    The speakers support Spatial Audio for music as well as video with Dolby Atmos audio. The Dolby Atmos support means that you can watch movies with pretty good audio right on the monitor. This is a significant improvement over using the built-in speaker on the Mac mini, and likely significant improvements over the built-in speakers in the Mac Studio.

    During my usage, I easily noticed that the Studio Display speakers are significantly better than the iMac speakers. They have more bass, and are louder in general than the iMac speakers. This makes complete sense given that there are six speakers in the Studio Display as opposed to the two speakers in the iMac.

    For additional comparison I tested the speakers on my iPad Pro and they sound better than the iMac, but not nearly as loud as the iMac. The Studio Display speakers sound a lot better than the iPad Pro, which makes sense given there is more space for the Studio Display to move air, and the are more speakers. However, when I compared to a HomePod mini, the HomePod mini has better sound than even the Studio Display. After thinking about it for a bit, I can understand why. The HomePod mini is designed to create the best sound for the environment that it is in.

    If you look at a System Report for the a device that has a Studio Display connected, you may notice that the there are actually 8 output channels. These are capable of outputting up to 48KHz, so it can provide high quality sound. The internal speakers on my mid-2017 iMac can only output at 44.1KHz, so this is definitely and improvement, just in output quality.

    Even though the HomePod mini sounds better, the Studio Display speakers are still really good, and much improved over the iMac speakers. Now that viewing things has been mentioned, let us look at the screen itself.


    Screen

    Throughout my time using computers I have gone back and forth between using two screens and just using one. The sizes of the screens have varied as I have purchased new computers and new screens.

    If you have used any of the 27-inch 5K Retina iMacs since their introduction in 2014, you may not initially notice that many differences between the Studio Display and the 5K Retina iMac Screen. You would be completely rationale to think that they are same screen. The reason you might think this is because the actual screen of the Studio Display is very, very similar. In fact, they are the exact except for one specification. The resolution as the 27-inch 5K iMac, of 5120-by-2880, it supports the P3 color gamut, True Tone, and supports for 1 billion colors, and support for Night Shift.

    The one area where the Studio Display screen has a slight improvement over the previous 27-inch 5K iMac is in its brightness. Instead of having 500 nits of brightness of the 5K iMac, the Studio Display has a maximum of 600-nits of brightness. This is a 20% improvement. What this means is that the screen can be brighter when needed.

    You may not initially notice any change, but that is not really a problem because you likely will not want to have the screen at its highest brightness setting. Having the highest brightness level can hurt ones eyes when used for a long time. Even if you do not want to use it at its brightest settings all the time, there may be times when you need it temporarily. For those times, there is a feature that can utilize the full brightness.


    Brightness

    It has been a while since I have had two Apple screens connected to a computer and I had forgotten that when you have two Apple displays connected, that many functions can be set independently. For instance, The brightness setting can be set differently for each screen. What this means is that if I want to have the Studio Display be a bit dimmer than the iMac screen I can do just that.

    There are a couple of different ways to adjust the brightness, using hardware keys and Control Center. When you want to use the dedicated keys on a keyboard you can do so just like you would for just an iMac or MacBook Pro. The thing to be cognizant of is that when you switch the second display, it needs to have focus before the hardware keys will adjust properly.

    The second option through Control Center is a bit different. Once you open up Control Center and click on the arrow next to “Display”, it will expand and show both of the screens independently. Here you can adjust the sliders to the brightnesses that you would like for each of the displays.

    While you might not need to have the brightness set all of the way up at all times, you may want to be able to make sure that some aspects of the item you are working on meets industry standards. There is a feature for specifically for that situation called Reference Modes, so let us look at those now.


    Reference Modes

    Reference Modes are not a brand new feature to macOS. They were actually introduced with the Pro Display XDR in 2019. The ability to use reference modes is also supported on the 14-inch and 16-inch M1 Pro/M1 Max MacBook Pros introduced in 2001. The same functionality now comes to any Mac with a Studio Display connected.

    A reference mode is a preset on the Studio Display that will allow you to make sure that you are matching the industry standard requirements for the particular mode. There are a number of presets that are possible with the Studio Display. The available reference modes are:

    • Apple Display (P3-600 nits)
    • HDTV Video (BT.709-BT.1886)
    • NTSC Video (BT.601 SMPTE-C)
    • PAL and SECAM Video (BT.601 EBU)
    • Digital Cinema (P3-DCI)
    • Digital Cinema (P3-D65)
    • Design and Print (P3-D50)
    • Photography (P3-D65)
    • Internet and Web (sRGB)
    Setting a Reference Mode

    There are a two different ways of setting a reference mode. Either through the mirroring menu item or through System Preferences.

    Accessible by using the following steps:

    1. Open System Preferences.
    2. Click on “Displays”
    3. Click on “Display Settings” at the bottom of the screen.
    4. Select the Studio Display
    5. Under Presets, select your desired preset.
    Apple Studio Display Reference Modes

    If you need to be able to quickly access different reference modes you can select specific modes to appear in the menu. You can so by following these steps:

    1. Open System Preferences.
    2. Click on “Displays”
    3. Click on “Display Settings” at the bottom of the screen.
    4. Select the Studio Display
    5. Under Presets, select “Customize Presets”. A popup will appear.
    6. In the list of presets, enable the checkbox next to each of the presets that you want to enable.
    7. Once finished, click the “Done” button to close the popup.
    8. Click “Done” again to close the Display Settings screen.

    The list of reference modes that you select with the “Show In Menu” checkboxes will be shown in Control Center, as shown in the example below.

    Customize Studio Display Reference Modes

    When you switch reference modes, the device will momentarily turn off and then turn back on. To me, it seems like the screen is doing a soft reboot. What I mean by this is that it disconnects from the host Mac, including stopping and switching audio, and then changes the reference mode, reconnects audio and shows the screen again.

    Most non-professional users are not likely to use reference modes, but for those that do need them they will come in handy and are a nice feature to have. And now, you do not need to purchase the Pro Display XDR or upgrade your MacBook Pro just to get the modes. Next, let us move onto the pricing for the Apple Studio Display.


    Pricing

    The Apple Studio display is somewhat reasonably priced. The Apple Studio Display starts at $1599. For this amount you can get a standard display, with either the tilt stand or with a VESA adapter. If you want the Tilt and Height adjustable stand, the price would be $1999.

    There is a second screen option, called Nano texture. Adding the Nano Texture option will cost an additional $300. Therefore it is $1899 for the Tilt adjustable stand or VESA Adapter, and $2299 for the Tilt and Height Adjustment stand.

    There is one thing to note about the Studio Display, the stand is not replaceable. This means that the stand you get when you purchase the Studio Display is the one it will have for its entire life. Therefore, if you do purchase one be sure to get the stand you want.

    One last thing to note is that if you do go with the VESA mount, you can put the Studio Display in portrait orientation. Therefore if you have the need to use a monitor in portrait mode, you might want to think about the VESA adapter.

    There is one other item related to pricing that you may want to know about. That item is AppleCare.


    AppleCare+

    When you buy the Apple Studio Display you may want to add on AppleCare for the display. You have two options. The first is to pay for three years of coverage up front for $149. You also do have an additional option of paying per year. The price per year is about the same as the up-front cost at $49.99 per year. Regardless of which route you go, the price will be about the same.

    If you do need to use the AppleCare+ for the Studio Display you will be charged $99 for screen damage or external enclosure damage. If there is any other damage it will cost you $299. With AppleCare+ you will get two incidents every 12 months.

    When I purchased my Apple Studio Display I opted to go with the yearly AppleCare+ coverage. This is the first time I am going with yearly payments for AppleCare. The reason I opted for this is that I will likely keep the monitor for well more than three years, probably closer to 5 or 6 years, before I replace it. I would rather pay $299 for getting a replacement or getting my Studio Display fixed after the three years. Furthermore, if for some reason I do not keep it for three years, I will only need to pay for the coverage that I need and not more. However, I did run into a problem.

    AppleCare+ Billing Issue

    When I have purchased AppleCare in the past I have always gone with pre-paying for AppleCare. As mentioned above this time around I decided to go with the annual AppleCare payment. This was the first time that I have opted to use the annual AppleCare option, and I ended up running into a problem with purchasing the yearly AppleCare+ for my Studio Display.

    When I went to order the Apple Studio I added AppleCare+ at that time. Apple’s policy on annual AppleCare is to bill it when the device ships or is picked up. This approach makes sense because lead times for devices can vary. As expected, I received an email stating that my Studio Display had shipped. Within a half hour of receiving that email, I received another email indicating that there was a billing problem with purchasing my AppleCare+. This is odd considering that Apple charged my card for the Studio Display with the same card. Immediately after receiving that email, the payment went through on my card, albeit in a “pending” state.

    Studio Display Billing Problem email.

    Because there was a problem, I called Apple support to verify whether the charge went through or not. Apple’s voice system initially sent me to technical support, despite me asking for billing (computers, gotta love ’em). The first person I talked to in tech support did a cursory check to see if they could see anything, but they could not see much on their end. So, they sent me over to the AppleCare team.

    The second support person I talked to thought it might have been a phishing email, which is possible. But phishing emails would not contain AppleCare agreement numbers, valid serial numbers, not to mention the last four of my credit card number. So, we ruled out the email being a phishing attempt. They continued to do some additional checking, but ultimately they ended up sending me to the Agreement Admin team.

    The third person I talked to did some more searching but they could not bring up the agreement and serial number combination in their system. There is an Apple site that you can use to add an agreement to your account if you have both the agreement and serial number. They asked me to attempt to add the agreement to my Apple account, but I could not add it to my account. The last check we did was to look up the coverage using checkcoverage.apple.com using the serial number. That site indicated that the Studio Display did not have active AppleCare plan.

    After discussing with the AppleCare admin support person, we decided to wait until the charge either cleared or was removed from my card. If it cleared, then I would call them back so they could figure it all out. If it was removed then I could sign up for AppleCare+ on the site or by calling them again.

    It turns out that the payment ended up going through about five and a half hours after I got the email saying that there was a billing problem. It took another 12 hours or so before the Apple site indicated that it was under warranty.

    Now that AppleCare has been covered, there are two other sets of items to look at. The first of these is what happened when I connected the Studio Display to some of the supported, as well as, non-supported devices, so let us look at that next starting with the supported devices.


    Usage with Other Devices

    I use the Studio Display with my mid-2017 iMac as a the primary display with the built-in iMac screen as the secondary display. As outlined above is the list of supported devices. Macs are not the only devices that are supported. One of the devices that is supported that I have is the 5th generation iPad Pro.


    5th Generation iPad Pro

    According to Apple’s page, the entire iPad Pro line can be used with the Apple Studio Display. So, I decided to try and connect my 5th generation iPad Pro to the Studio Display.

    When I initially connected the 5th generation iPad Pro to the Studio Display, nothing showed up. Instead nothing appeared. When something is not working, it is best to reboot a device. So, I ended up rebooting the iPad with the Thunderbolt cable connected to the iPad. When the iPad rebooted the iPad would not finish loading. It acted the same way as my iMac when there is a secondary bootable hard drive connected, where it would just stall. Once I unplugged the thunderbolt cable from the iPad the iPad booted right up. I then re-connected the Thunderbolt cable and the iPad screen showed up on the Studio Display.

    It might just be my device, but it seems as though unless the iPad is turned on and unlocked, the negotiation between the iPad Pro and the Studio Display fails at some point. For example, I plugged in the Studio Display to my iPad Pro when the iPad was closed. When I turned on the screen for iPad Pro, nothing appeared on the Studio Display. The only way to get it to work was to unplug the Studio Display and plug it back in, while the iPad Pro screen was on.


    6th Generation iPad mini

    Unlike the iPad Pro, I had zero issues connecting the iPad mini to the Studio Display. When I connected the iPad mini to the Studio Display the iPad mini screen showed right away without any issues. I was able to control the exact same things as the iPad Pro.


    Older Devices

    I did some looking around for what devices I could actually connect to the Studio Display. At first I thought that I could not connect anything except Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 devices, because I could not find any way to connect older Thunderbolt 1 and 2. I knew I had a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, but I thought that was a one way device, like so many other adapters. After thinking about it a bit, I realized that Thunderbolt is a two-way communication medium, so any connection from Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 should work without issue.

    I got out my Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter and a Thunderbolt 2 cable and proceeded to connect some devices. I connected my Early-2015 13-inch MacBook Pro, a mid-2014 21.5-inch iMac, and even a mid-2011 21.5-inch iMac, all with various results.

    The early-2015 MacBook Pro is running macOS Monterey 12.3, so it was able to connect, mirror or extend the display and function as a second monitor. The one function that did not work was that I could not adjust the brightness on the Studio Display with the function keys on the keyboard. However, I could adjust it using Control Center or in System Preferences, so you can use the Studio Display with any device that runs macOS Monterey 12.3.

    The mid-2011 21.5-inch and mid-2014 21.5-inch iMacs could not display anything on the screen. This makes sense given that neither of the devices is capable of running macOS Monterey. The latest operating system for these are macOS High Sierra (10.13) and macOS Big Sur (macOS 11) respectively. Given that all of these devices run Thunderbolt, both of these iMacs was able to see the USB-C drive connected to the Studio Display, so even if it cannot be use as a display, it can be used in a pinch for connecting devices.

    System Report showing Studio Display on an unsupported 2014 iMac

    The mid-2014 21.5-inch iMac was able to identify the display in system preferences, and even in System Report. So there was some communication between the Studio Display and older devices. But this all leaves me with some questions.


    Confusion

    As outlined above, the Studio Display has a limited number of iPads that it supports. What is not described is what features or functions that the the supported devices can utilize that other devices, like the iPad mini, might not be able to. I did some testing of connecting USB-C drives, playing music, and even adjusting the volume. All of these worked on both the iPad Pro and the iPad mini.

    I could not find anything that the iPad Pro was able to do that the iPad mini could not. It is possible that it could be that the iPad Pro can support Dolby Atmos over thunderbolt, where the iPad mini might not be able to, because it is USB-C. It should be noted that neither of these devices was on a beta operating system, both were using iPadOS 15.4 (19E241), so it is not a case of one device having improvements or a different set of software features, over the other.

    Furthermore on my early-2015 MacBook Pro, it was able to display the screen and I could use it in either mirrored, extended, and even as my main display.

    The common thing that I could not do with any of the devices, even the iPad Pro which is supposed to be fully supported, was adjust the brightness automatically. For the early-2015 MacBook Pro I could use the Studio Display without issue.

    So, the real question is what does Apple mean when they say “supported” devices with the Studio Display? It cannot be fully functionality, because the two iPads do not seem to have any difference even though the iPad mini is not officially supported. It is possible that I am missing something. Does anybody else have any idea?


    Possible Future improvements

    There are a couple of things that I could think of where the Studio Display could be improved. There are three areas total where I think there could be improvements are with Thunderbolt 4, Airplay, and the power cable.


    Thunderbolt 4

    Given the intention for the display, Thunderbolt 3 is sufficient. However, it could be nice to have Thunderbolt 4 for additional bandwidth for two reasons. The first being consistency between the monitor and the Macs that are connected and supported. The second is to be able to have the USB-C devices connected be able to run a their full 10 gigabits per second bitrate.


    AirPlay

    It would be nice to be able to have a Studio Display be an AirPlay receiver. I am sure this would require additional hardware, but it since there is already an A13, it might not be as much extra hardware. The Apple TV is an AirPlay receiver, and even the A10 can be an AirPlay receiver, so the A13 is not the limiting factor on that.


    Removable Power cable

    Similar to HomePod, the Apple Studio Display does not have a removable power cable. While this is not likely a problem for most users, it could become one. If any damage occurs to the power cable, then it would likely fall into the $99 accidental damage portion of AppleCare. Having to pay $99 to get a power cord fixed would be, in my opinion, absurd.


    Closing Thoughts

    On one of the biggest factors when it comes to purchasing anything these days is the price. At first when you see a monitor that starts at $1599 you might think that it is overpriced. Many users are not willing to spend that much on a monitor, but others will if it has the proper set of features. The Apple Studio Display is a 5K Retina screen. There are not many 5K Retina screens on the market today. There are a large number of 4K ones, but there is only one other 5K screen on the market, the LG UltraFine 5K.

    When you compare the features and price of the Apple Studio Display to the LG UltraFine 5K, you might reevaluate that the Studio Display is too much. The LG UltraFine has a retail price of $1299. So, for the $300 difference you get a number of features. You get an Ultra Wide camera with a 122 degree field of view that supports Center Stage, so everyone will stay in focus and the center of the screen.

    Instead of a set of stereo speakers, you actually get six speakers that not only sound better, but also supports music mastered for Spatial Audio as well as audio from movies that have a Dolby Atmos option.

    You can use the Studio Display as a USB-C hub and connect peripherals to the display. When you do you will be able to use them with your Mac as you would if they were directly connected. These will run at 10 gigabits per second. While this is not Thunderbolt speeds, 10 gigabits per second is fast enough for many peripherals like audio interfaces, external hard drives, and other accessories.

    Those who were asking for Apple to just take the screen out of the iMac and do nothing else with it, they would have been perfectly happy, but that is not what Apple did. Instead, they went above and beyond by providing features and functions that many users have come to rely on with their MacBook Pros. If you are looking for a new display, you might want to check out the Apple Studio Display.