Color me somewhat jaded about the Mac vs. iPad Pro argument that has swept across the interwebs in recent weeks. Yes, I want an iPad Pro but all the accouterments push the price tag to over $2,200 and that starts to get into MacBook Pro territory for similar display size and power.
What’s missing from iPad Pro is exactly what’s missing from a MacBook Pro. 27-inches of Retina 5K display. Screen real estate. There is no substitute for a display that runs two full-sized Mac notebook screens, side-by-side and in portrait mode (not obtainable in a Mac notebook, and no keyboard option for iPad Pro). Period. End of story. Screen real estate rules.
Yes, I know. A desktop Mac has limited mobility. An iMac of any size is not a MacBook Air or even a Mac mini. Who cares? To use any Mac still requires you to sit down in front of a screen, and to be completely honest, I don’t mind avoiding keyboard work while out and about while knowing I can plunk my ass down in a comfortable chair and bang away on decent non-butterfly keyboard while going face-to-face with 27-inches of 5K Retina display.
Apple’s iMac with the 27-inch 5K Retina display launched in late 2014. Look around. Check out Amazon. To date there are few 5K Retina display options available, and not one of them comes in a price tag similar to the 27-inch iMac. A superb display that also includes a Mac.
I ran a quick check on “5K display” through Amazon. The results are startling. The LG UltraFine 27-inch 5K display tops the list at $1,152. Apple’s base 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display starts at $1,999. Dig through the rest of Amazon’s offerings– Dell, LG, Samsung– and you’ll see 4K displays at very non-5K display prices; the range appears to be from about $300 to almost $700. That’s 4K, not 5K.
Is there a difference between 5K and 4K?
It’s much like using an iPad Pro and then using someone’s original iPad without a Retina display. Everything you see on screen is visibly fuzzy. On a Retina display, not so much. The same thing shows up when viewing a new MacBook Air vs. the last MacBook Air without a Retina display.
It’s visually backwards, folks, and your eyes see the differences right away. I know. First world problem.
What is striking about this phenomenon is not so much that Retina displays are better– Apple has a Retina on every Mac; desktop and notebook (except Mac mini and Mac Pro, both of which support 5K Retina displays via external connection)– it’s that the rest of the display industry has yet to catch up to what Apple has done with the iMac. 27-inches. 5K Retina. 4K displays are all over Amazon, all the way up to 42-inches– a larger display with less resolution means bigger, fatter, and slightly fuzzier pixels on the screen.
I am partial to screen real estate over mobility. The four year old iMac with 27-inch 5K Retina display remains at the top of the class, and the rest of the industry has yet to follow.