External Monitor Suggestions for Macbook

edited December 2018 in Off-topic

As my studio expands — which is dangerous and not glamorous, I say to all who exist solely on iPad! — it occurs to me that the 13" Macbook Air is not enough.
For whatever stupid reason, the various defunct iMacs around the house can't be easily cannibalized for their perfectly good monitors.
So what do I need to know before I buy? The laptop has USB3 and Lightning ports. I don't need anything huge, and I really don't care about screen quality (at least I think I don't). This is for Ableton 90 percent of the time.


  • edited December 2018

    Do you have a Retina model? If so, you may not think you care about quality but will quickly realize you do. :) I wouldn't buy a dated FHD monitor in this day and age, though. Personally, I'd only buy a 4k, if not a 5k monitor, but ultrawides could be nice for audio work.

    If you really don't care, and just want an extra display that's >13", you can basically pick any name brand FHD.

    This is the Dell 24" 4k monitor that I use. I've had it for a few years and this one doesn't do the cool stuff like Thunderbolt display and charge on the same wire. I'd definitely look for a monitor that supports that if buying today. That might limit you to a couple of LG monitors though.

  • Plug it into your TV?

  • @BiancaNeve said:
    Plug it into your TV?

    TV is in its own room; studio is in its own little nook, with speakers, midi controllers, etc. It's bad enough I have my gear clogging up one spot. My family would lose its mind if I impinged on Netflix time....

  • Yeah 4k is the go.

  • Just strolled by bhphotovideo at lunch and saw the Dell that @Liquidmantis suggested. Looks awesome. Although if I’m being honest, I watch so little TV that I have no idea whether the family TV is even 4K. It IS a flatscreen, I swear.

  • You may already realize this, but just in case, 4k here is referring to the display resolution and makes on-screen graphics, especially text, sharper. It's not just in case you want to watch 4k video. So for years the standard monitor resolution followed TV and everything was 1920x1080. 4k is 2x in each direction, at 3840x2160. Retina renders a 1920x1080 point sized image at 3840x2160 pixels so you end up with the same real estate as a FHD display, just 4x resolution which makes text amazing.

    Now of course you can choose to use different apparent resolutions and still benefit from the increased pixel density you just don't get the pure 1:1 pixel mapping as when it's an even scaling.

  • I did NOT realize that and I'm grateful for the explanation. Thanks so much.

  • I have that Dell. It is a beauty for fitting a lot of data on one screen. Only thing is that on a 24” 4K monitor the text and details can be very tiny. If your near-vision is not that sharp then you might actually be just as happy with a 1080p monitor at the 24” size.

    Now that I have been spoiled by 4K I think my next monitor will be at least 32” ;-)

  • It’s not small using the Retina scaling though, only if you run the display size at native resolution. I actually run my MacBook to it at the next bump up because the Retina’s 1920x1080 apparent size looks fisher price at 24”, albeit incredibly crisp.

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