TLDR: The LG 49 inch UltraWide monitor is pretty cool, but not very Mac compatible (specifics defects below). Next up for me is the Apple Store approved, 23.7-inch LG UltraFine 4K Display, which will trade screen real estate for retina, better color and native controls.
I’ve been anxious to buy a new monitor for my MacBook Pro for a few months. I decided to hold off until Apple announced their Mac Pro + Display plans as I generally like all the conveniences that come from using an Apple monitor with Apple hardware and would love to buy one.
I still use a 27-inch Thunderbolt 1 Apple monitor at my work office – this new monitor would be for home use (for now).
So WWDC has come and gone and while amazing, that new Apple monitor is not for me. Instead I bought what I had been eyeing for a while, the LG 49WL95C-W 49 inch 32:9 UltraWide.
YouTube Reviews: Linus Tech Tips, The Tech Chap, MacRumors
I got to use the LG 49 inch UltraWide monitor for about two weeks and while I enjoyed the extreme screen real estate, I just ran into too many hardware issues and so it’s getting returned.
First, was random screen blackouts. I actually was prepared for this from reading reviews before purchase, but I also read that recent firmware updates fixed it. In my own experience I had some early blackouts on day one, used the (very non-Mac like) LG software to update the monitor firmware and didn’t see anymore … until today, where I had a few pop up while watching YouTube. (Maybe the monitor has figured out it’s getting returned and it is out to get me?).
The bigger issue however is screen resolution and refresh rate. If you wake up a connected MacBook Pro via a keyboard connected to the monitor you have about a 30% chance it will get the resolution right. When it goes wrong you’ll either end up with an extremely distorted view (as in the OS doesn’t know what monitor is connected and everything is stretched out) or you’ll get the native resolution but the refresh rate will only be 30 Hz. That refresh rate is really iffy too, sometime I see a pull down in System Preferences that lets me switch to 60 Hz, other times I get no pull down and my only recourse is to power down the monitor and attempt a reconnect or a system reboot. It’s pretty annoying and a deal breaker for such a high end piece of equipment.
There are other problems too, like not being able to edit the speaker volume or brightness using the native Mac system controls but since I’ve started my monitor search months ago I sadly came to accept some tradeoffs. Frankly it’s really hard to find a good monitor to pair up a Mac with.
I’ve begun the refund process with Amazon and it seems like I should get a full refund since it’s under 30 days. We’ll see.
For my second contender I’ve chosen the more Apple approved, 23.7-inch LG UltraFine 4K Display. While it does not have anywhere near the size or screen real estate of the previous 49-inch monitor it will be a retina display, that comes with better color and more integrated controls.
YouTube Reviews: MacRumors, 9to5Mac
My general thinking is that maybe in the long run I’ll get two of these (it has some nice thunderbolt chaining possibilities) to get back my extra room, but will test drive just one for now.
While I’m sure I will enjoy the Mac integration, there is part of me that also worries that this might not play nice with Windows should I ever need to use the monitor with that OS. Again, lots of compromises to be made when shopping for monitors right now so sadly I’ll deal.