Wanted: more screen real estate for Macbook.
July 6, 2012 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Help me pick a big-ass-monitor for my Macbook Pro (OSX Lion)!

I have a mid-2009 MBP, with the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M/9600M 256M combo display card in it. The MBP does not have Thunderbolt, and unless the laptop dies in an expensive way I don't have any current plans to upgrade it. I want to get an external monitor for it. I spend most of my day with office applications, web browsing, that sort of thing. Occasional game of Starcraft or Civ, but I'm not hard-core by any means. My requirements are for more real estate, not necessarily for high-end gaming or photo finishing. I want to put more pixels in front of me, and it seems like most monitors are just going big with the same 1080p resolution and the marginal increase from 1440x900 seems like all I'm getting is fatter pixels.
I saw a suggestion online for a Catleap/Shimian/Achieva screen bought off of ebay for ~$350, but the reviews seem to be all over the map ("Awesome!"/"Sucks!"), and some of the postings say they won't work with mac's.
Yes, an Apple cinema display would be nice, but out of budget.
posted by Runes to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The default Apple Cinema Display alternative is the Dell Ultrasharp line of monitors, which are IPS panels that have a very similar display quality to the ACDs.

Since you didn't exactly name a budget, but did consider a $350 monitor, for USD$269 you can get the Dell U2312HM (23" LED, 1920x1080) or the Dell U2412M (24" LED, 1920x1600) at USD$369.
posted by titantoppler at 7:42 AM on July 6, 2012

I'd suggest a 24" 16:10 aspect ratio 1920x1200 monitor like the Dell UltraSharp U2412M. I find a 16:10 aspect ratio and 1200 vertical pixels to be very handy when working with documents compared to the smaller, wider (but cheaper) HDTV-sized panels.
posted by RichardP at 7:46 AM on July 6, 2012

Response by poster: Ah yes, budget, thanks for pointing out I didn't mention that: ~$500. Some flexibility there, could probably go up to $600.
posted by Runes at 7:58 AM on July 6, 2012

You might want to also check the Dell Outlet inventory to save a few bucks. I've bought several monitors from them and never had any problems with the refurbished models.

You do have to check inventory frequently as it does change as things sell out.
posted by SoulOnIce at 7:58 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you bide your time, every few weeks the home or small-business side of Dell has some sort of ridiculous sale and their U-series monitors get discounted by a third or more. In your situation, I would wait patiently for that to happen, and then buy the largest one I could afford.
posted by mhoye at 8:10 AM on July 6, 2012

Dell Ultrasharp, or the Apple Cinema Displays. When I was looking, I found the Dell displays to be a bit cheaper, but once you factored in the price of the Dual DVI cable the prices weren't too far off. With the ACD you get a power cable for the MBP as well, which is an added bonus. I've got the 27" and it's a great monitor.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:28 AM on July 6, 2012

If you are interesting in "high resolution" displays then you need to consider not just the number of pixels but also their density.

I would recommend Jakob Nielsen's recent Alertbox blog for designers on when to use Serif vs San Serif fonts for what it says about recent changes to the world of monitors.

Back in the 90s Apple used to boast that it had displays which could show 72 pixels per inch (as opposed to 60 for contemporary PC monitors). My current Dell Ultrasharp monitor has advanced things only a little: I get 96ppi.

However those figures lag way behind the "retina display" resolution that one can get on an Iphone 4s (326 ppi). Now we have the MacBook Pro which carries this approach to a 15 inch display with 220 PPI. I would be very surprised if we did not see manufacturers start making these higher resolution displays available soon. If you were willing to wait a few months for your purchase it might be beneficial for you.

More on display resolution.

posted by rongorongo at 8:51 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You may find my previous AskMe useful. I've had bad luck in the last few years with Dell so I went with an HP Performance Monitor, the ZR2240w. It's quite good, I'm happy with it.
posted by Nelson at 8:53 AM on July 6, 2012

I'm delighted with my Dell Ultrasharp 27 inch, the U2711.
posted by hardcode at 8:57 AM on July 6, 2012

i have both the dell U2412 and the U2410, and i have had no problems with either. i have both a mac pro tower, and the same laptop you do, and both have no issues.
posted by koroshiya at 9:41 AM on July 6, 2012

I have a ZR2240w at home. It's frankly amazing, beautifully bright and crisp.
posted by bonehead at 10:12 AM on July 6, 2012

If you go with a Mac display, you might want to check out gainsaver.com. Similar to the Dell outlet route, they have the displays available much cheaper than retail. I've had a pretty good experience with them.
posted by dgran at 11:12 AM on July 6, 2012

I have both a Dell U2412 and a U2410. Both are 24" IPS displays that are comparable to the cinema display in quality (although they're 24" and not 27"). There are several differences between the two:

The U2410 is a high-gamut display, which means it displays more colors than the typical display. This may sound like a good thing, but it's actually a bad fit for most people. The display looks horribly oversaturated by default, and it requires an expert touch to make it looks right for day-to-day usage. It's an excellent display for print work and image editing, but a poor fit for the average user.

If you do get a U2410, you should also get a calibration device. Macs do not come with color profiles for this display in sRGB mode, meaning you have to make your own. (Although the Mac color profile for the high-gamut mode was pretty accurate with my display). If you have no idea what any of this means, avoid this display.

An excellent sRGB display for both average and professional users. It produces a high quality image (consistent with 8-bit IPS panels) and requires very little configuration to look good enough. The Mac color profiles for this display are decent, although they tend to be a bit blue. If you're a snob, you'll want to calibrate it. Otherwise, this is a fantastic display for regular use as well as for professional photo and image work destined for the web.
posted by fremen at 2:20 PM on July 6, 2012

I picked up a Catleap off Ebay for $280. Best purchase I've made in a while.

Panel quality is awesome and have been waiting forever to upgrade to 2560x1440.

You can get it to work with your mac with a $70 Minidisplayport to dual link adapter.
posted by wongcorgi at 3:55 PM on July 6, 2012

I have been very happy with my iiyama E2773HDS, purchased for a little less than $300. I'm quite certain there are better monitors out there, but I do feel that at the price I paid, I made out ok.
posted by segatakai at 5:13 PM on July 6, 2012

Rongorongo - unfortunately it's not too likely that we will see ultra high resolution displays in the 20"+ range soon. The cost of large, "retina" panels is just too high at the moment. If they do arrive in 2012, they'll probably only come from Apple.
posted by The Lamplighter at 5:19 PM on July 6, 2012

Response by poster: Woncorgi, it's good to hear that it's working fine with the Monoprice adapter. This thread implied that the only one that worked was the Apple one.
posted by Runes at 7:18 AM on July 7, 2012

I just ordered that Monoprice adapter, and a Catleap off eBay. *rubs hands together and cackles*

Never thought I'd have 20", 22", and 23" monitors *sitting around unused*!
posted by mrbill at 12:33 PM on August 2, 2012

Monitor arrived today, and it works just fine with the Monoprice adapter on my 2011 Mac Mini (Core i5).
posted by mrbill at 6:14 PM on August 7, 2012

« Older Small business websites and WordPress   |   Planning a honeymoon, have no concrete ideas - so... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.