Apple Debuts LG’s All-New 23.7-inch UltraFine Display

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2019/05/20/apple-debuts-lgs-all-new-23-7-inch-ultrafine-display/

When Julio Ojeda-Zapata went to his local Apple Store for a look at Mac monitors, a staffer offered him something unexpected: the 23.7-inch LG UltraFine Display. This monitor is so new there is little public information about it—it’s not even listed on Apple’s Web store. How does it compare with LG’s 21.5-inch UltraFine 4K Display and 27-inch UltraFine 5K Display?

What was the other size that was laid out for you? Any information on the other display would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

It’s the original 21.5-inch model (the one being sold for several years) at the same price.

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Julio,

Can you go to Displays System Preferences and list supported Scaled resolutions?

And I see you have the same Watch charging stand I have, Julio! Too bad different watch faces can’t be used when the watch is in that position, otherwise I’d look for a Happy Mac watch face!

BTW, for rotation you could get a small “Lazy Susan” who’s diameter is the same or a tad larger than the diagonal measurement of the stand’s base plate.

While it might not technically be Retina, I wouldn’t let that dissuade you. Resolution aside, the tech specs are better than the 21.5, which actually has NO Thunderbolt 3 ports, just USB-C.

So, while the port arrangement looks similar (minus one port), you’re likely getting 3 USB-C ports that support at least 5Gbs (USB 3.1 Gen 1) speeds, plus a second Thunderbolt 3 port for daisy-chaining. On the 21.5, since it only supports USB-C, those three USB-C ports on the back only support USB 2 speeds (480 Mbs, less than 1/10 of USB 3.1 Gen 1).

On the resolution, it’s getting harder to find even 24" 4k displays, and the LG 21.5 was the only 4k display smaller than 24". Gaming seems to be pushing screen size up and up, but resolution remains at 4k because of mainstream GPU performance. When I was searching for a high-end 4k display for my 2018 mini, I had to go to 27" to get the features I wanted, so I’m technically even further from Retina, and I run mine at a simulated 2560x1440.

Any idea if the new monitor will daisy-chain dual monitors with a single TB3 connection to the Mac?

How is this different, other than the Apple premium, vs any other 24" 4k monitor? ports? does it have DCI-P3 gamut?

Does this new LG monitor include a built-in camera?

I looked at 5K LG or 4K Eizo EV 3237/BenQ 3200. I’m satisfied with both of them (I ended up with one of each, home and office, not bought at the same time). I chose to avoid 5K for performance reasons (really non-standard, graphic card support is very weak) and because LG has a horrible reputation for longevity. I’ve personally had LG large high end displays break in 1.5 years while HP high end displays work for ten years or more. I was able to have one of my team repair the burnt out LG which turned out to be just cheap wiring. Seeing the shortcuts and lack of quality control in that monitor finished off LG for me. If you buy LG, plan to buy an extended warranty (five years at least) and plan to be without your monitor a couple of times during repairs and plan to not enjoy the monitor after the warranty is over.

PS. At 2560 x 1440 on a 30 inch monitor, I’m definitely outside of official Retina standards (didn’t know about those). No issues with text or image quality. 4K retina really helps reduce eye strain as there’s no subtle eye strain reading text. Pixels are invisible.

No camera, yes to DCI-P3 gamut, not sure about daisy-chaining two displays off of one TB3 port, yes to 3x5Gbs USB-C ports.

There are very few 4k 24" displays out there - the Dell is just about the only decent one (bar the very specialized, expensive Eizo), and it’s fine, but nothing special. Everything is migrating up in size, and smaller displays (24" is now “smaller”) are almost all 1920x1080 or lower resolution (with a very occasional 1920x1200). Also, there are very few displays directed at the non-Apple market that are TB3, so no charging and connecting with one cable to a MBP (as this one does).

It’s interesting that both the 27" and 21.5" displays have gone away, as those panels are the same as used in the iMacs, only to be replaced with a panel that isn’t used elsewhere in Apple products. Yes, there is an Apple premium, but there’s really nothing else like this on the market, either.

UPDATE: Apple is now selling this display online: https://www.apple.com/shop/product/HMUA2VC/A/lg-ultrafine-4k-display

According to Is This Retina?, this display becomes “Retina” at 18 inches (46cm). Most viewing will be done from at least this distance, right?

People who work in graphics, especially retouchers and typographers who work at the pixel level, will sometimes have their noses practically touching the screen, even if they are zooming.

For those people, almost nothing would be Retina, so I wouldn’t worry about that.

The fact is, whatever Apple might have wanted Retina to denote, there are very few displays available that meet that spec, especially now that the 21.5" and 27" LGs are discontinued. Gaming is driving the market and 4k is currently all that market is really looking for, but with ever-larger displays becoming mainstream, smaller high-resolution panels are disappearing, pushing available displays further and further from Retina.

The upcoming Apple Pro display may be the last true large Retina display we see for a while, but it will be expensive.

I don’t know who this is really aimed at? Or why anyone would really consider it over other 4K’s, TBH?

I have two of the LG UltraFine 5K’s which I bought in Feb 2017 (just after they fixed the small shielding glitches on newly manufactured ones) for the lower £874 ($900 in the US, AFAIR) price, before they went back up to ~£1180 ($1300 in US). They work very well, and I’ve have had no serious issues with them. They’re not perfect, but still the crystal clear image is great, and I can even run them one step higher than the pixel-doubled 1440p at 1620p (2880x1620) without it taxing either my maxed-out 2016 MBP or 2018 Mac Mini.

Being the only 5K available currently, they demand that high pricing, but these are just 4K’s and don’t offer a 218ppi “Retina” resolution. So why they’re releasing them as part of the “UltraFine” series, is a bit disingenuous. I can imagine non-techie people buying them expecting a crisp image due to the “UltraFine” branding, only to be very disappointed when they plug it in and realise it isn’t.

If I wanted a 4K, there’s better options out there, offering more (like better/multiple connection options), at much better pricing points. Yes, you can daisy chain these, but it’s hardly the first thing a buyer looks for when making decision on which to go for. And for $1400 (£1260 in UK) for a pair, it’s not an attractive deal either.

You can get reconditioned/used LG UltraFine 5K’s on Ebay for ~$800-900, I’d go for them virtually every time.

Certainly a weird one, for sure.

Julio, the specs on Apple’s page list the brightness at 500 cd/m², whatever that means.

Of course you can always find a cheaper monitor (cheaper components?), but this one is aimed directly at modern Mac users. Indeed, the system requirements indicate macOS 10.14.5 Mojave. There’s also a link to a page listing compatible Mac models, basically newer Macs with USB-C connectivity. The extra ports on the back would seem to be useful for modern Mac laptops with a limited number of ports. In this regard it’s not a bad replacement for the old Apple Cinema Displays with multiple ports. Though you’ll need plenty of adaptors if you use any legacy hardware. It’s smaller than a Cinema Display but it’s got a much higher resolution—and a better color gamut.

At $900 you really have to need a larger monitor. Add this to a new Mac mini and you’ve ports to burn.

So did you keep this monitor? I have a late 2016 MacBook Pro and want support for Thunderbolt 3, Adobe RGB (close to 100% or a little less, 97-100%. I rarely see this listed in monitor specs/except for at Adorama and BHPhoto. I’d like resolution to be the best I can get. From what I’ve read that Retina is hard to come by. I want a new monitor for editing photographs in Lightroom and Photoshop. Any other ideas for a reasonable monitor? Disappointed that this doesn’t exactly reach Retina. Also on a budget.