- Apple unveiled its new $US5,000 Pro Display XDR alongside the new $US6,000 Mac Pro at its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.
- The display is meant to be an alternative to high-end reference monitors that can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
- It’s the first standalone display Apple has released in years, filling a hole in the company’s lineup.
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Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference always marks a major moment for its Mac ecosystem, but the company surprised attendees on Monday by announcing an all-new Mac Pro for the first time since 2013.
The company is positioning the new Mac Pro, which starts at $US6,000, as being a performance powerhouse for professional filmmakers, photo editors, and music producers. As such, the company also announced a new monitor to go with the Pro – the $US5,000 Pro Display XDR, a 32-inch 6K screen with a resolution of 6,016 x 3,384.
Apple says it’s the biggest Retina display the company has ever built, and it designed the Pro Display XDR specifically to accommodate professionals that need to work with incredibly bright and highly crisp displays with super accurate colour and contrast. With the Pro Display XDR, Apple is hoping to offer a monitor that outperforms reference monitors commonly used in film production that can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but for a fraction of the price.
Whether or not it will succeed will largely depend how it’s received by the professionals that need it the most. That will rely on whether media editors feel it’s worth spending thousands more on the Pro Display XDR rather than going with other highly rated and less expensive options from competitors like Dell and LG.
Here’s a closer look at the Pro Display XDR.
The Pro Display XDR is meant to compete with expensive reference monitors used for film editing and music scoring, not your average computer monitor.
As such, the Pro Display XDR supports custom reference modes for elements like colour and gamma, among others, and it was built with super-wide viewing angles using a polarizer technology. This should make Apple’s new display look 25% better than rivals when viewing the screen off-axis.
It also has a million-to-one contrast ratio, which is significantly higher than that of Dell’s 32-inch 8K monitor. That display, which now costs $US3,900 but was originally priced at $US5,000 like Apple’s new monitor, only offers a 1,300-to-one contrast ratio.
Apple’s new monitor is made using LCD technology, not OLED. While OLED is traditionally considered better for contrast, LCD is brighter, which is crucial for offering high-quality HDR, one of the Pro Display XDR’s most important features.
The Pro Display XDR can sustain 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness indefinitely and 1,600 nits of peak brightness.
The display is comprised of seven different layers, which helps it achieve high brightness and colour accuracy among other factors.
These layers include a colour correction sheet, an optics sheet, and a diffuser plate that directs light into a cavity reflector to better shape the light outward. That colour correction sheet is necessary because Apple’s display uses blue LEDs rather than white LEDs like most monitors. Apple opted for blue LEDs because they’re easier to control.
But keeping the display that bright can cause it to run hot. That’s why the back of the display is made of a lattice hole pattern that draws heat out of the device.
It’s the same pattern found on the Mac Pro’s housing.
The display also comes in a matte option for those who need to work in irregular light conditions.
Apple etched the glass instead of adding a layer to the display to achieve this matte look, which should eliminate the haze that sometimes occurs on other matte displays.
Apple also sells a $US1,000 Pro Stand for the display that allows users to adjust the monitor’s angle and height.
For the average person, that’s an abnormally high price for a monitor mount – the crowd even audibly balked when Apple announced the pricing during its keynote. But Apple is betting film crews that need flexibility when moving their editing suite around will benefit from this adjustable stand. You can even swivel the Pro Display XDR to portrait mode orientation, as shown above.
In my limited time viewing content on the Pro Display XDR, Apple’s display certainly showcased dazzling colours, deep contrast, and lifelike details.
When viewing it alongside 4K monitors from Dell and Eizo, Apple’s new hardware certainly seemed to outperform its rivals. The Eizo monitor looked dimmer than Apple’s, and colours on Dell’s appeared washed-out in comparison. Apple’s Pro Display XDR seemed about on par with the reference displays made by Sony displayed alongside it, which are noticeably more expensive.
However, it’s important to note that these monitors were displayed under a controlled demo, so it’s unclear exactly how they would hold up in actual daily performance. The Dell and Eizo monitors shown in the demo are also likely less expensive than Apple’s.
All told, it’s a compelling but pricey option for those who need a high-end monitor for serious media editing.
It fills a hole in Apple’s lineup that was missing since it discontinued the Thunderbolt Display back in 2016. While that display was far less expensive than the Pro Display XDR considering it launched at $US1,000, Apple was still lacking a high-end standalone monitor for its professional audience. Yes, the company sells LG’s Ultrafine 5K Display for $US1,300, but it’s been quite a while since we’ve seen Apple launch a standalone display of its own.
But more importantly, as part of the Mac Pro package, it will be crucial for Apple to prove it can still please its pro-grade customers after it received some criticism following the previous-generation Mac Pro, which launched in 2013 and wasn’t easily customisable. Apple previously said it was completely re-thinking the Mac Pro, and the Pro Display XDR is part of the culmination of that effort.
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