Apple's Pro Display XDR is the monitor every creative will want, not just video editors

Apple’s first 6k monitor has wider appeal than the 2019 Mac Pro – you can connect it to a MacBook Pro or any Mac (or, whisper it, Windows PC) that can output to a 6,016 x 3,384 resolution over Thunderbolt 3. Like most Thunderbolt 3 displays such as Lenovo’s ThinkVision P32u, that Thunderbolt 3 port on the back can also charge your MacBook Pro.

The picture quality on the Pro Display XDR is truly stunning. The photos, video and animation I saw were vibrant and full of depth – rather over-saturated perhaps, but that’s because what was being shown was really vibrant imagery and footage, to demonstrate the Pro Display XDR's capabilities.

There are two versions of the Pro Display XDR, a US$4,999 (£3,930) standard model and a $5,999/£4,700 version with Nano-texture glass – to which you’ll need to add either a $200 VESA adapter if you already have a wall mount, or a $1,000 stand. There has been a lot of online hubbub about Apple charging $1,000 for a stand – though people seem to get upset about everything Apple does or doesn’t do – but some companies would have just changed you $6k/7k for the different models with a stand, and then the extra $200 for a VESA adapter. So if you’ve got a studio set-up with an appropriate arm or other mount, you save yourself $800.

The stand is designed to make moving the monitor almost effortless.

What the more expensive model gives you is a truly non-reflective screen – and looking at both models side-by-side, I could easily see the benefits of the more expensive model – where the slight reflection of anther person in the standard model was completely undetectable on the Nano-texture model.

I also saw the two models placed next to a series of other HDR monitors from a consumer model - Dell’s UltraSharp UP2718Q – to a high-end Eizo CG318-4K ColorEdge, plus two Sony reference monitors including the flagship BVM x300 v2.

The better depth to the colour of the images on the Pro Display XDR to the Eizo and especially the Dell were obvious. More impressive was that the Pro Displays appeared to match the output of the BVM x300 v2, which costs around $35,000. You’d need to be a colourist to tell if Apple’s new monitors really were as good as Sony’s – and I look forward to seeing what one makes of it.

Application developers will likely have to add support for the extended colour range of the Pro Display XDR. I saw an as-yet-unreleased beta version of Affinity Photo with a button to turn on ‘EDR’ - as the beta calls Extreme Dynamic Range. The additional colour detail, especially in highlights and shadows, was immediately obvious and even came through in the photos I took of it.

Affinity Photo on a Pro Display XDR with Extended Dynamic Range turned off.
Affinity Photo on a Pro Display XDR with Extended Dynamic Range turned on.
The setting within Affinity Photo to turn Extended Dynamic Range on and off.

And in that is the real appeal of the Pro Display XDR. It’s not just for colourists or those working on finishing systems, it’s for editors, compositors, designers working in graphic design and branding. Yes, at $6-7,000 it’s still out of reach even for most Digital Arts readers – but it raises the bar for those would consider spending that much on a display.

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