Apple has finally provided what many in the Apple enthusiast community have been asking for: an original display that costs at least $5,000. A new 27-inch studio display costs $1,600, which is still a lot more than what many people pay for a monitor, but it’s probably a welcome addition for many. Apple also put the entire A13 chip into it, i.e. more powerful Compared to the chip currently used in 4K Apple TV.
This begs the question: why? What is not Is Studio Display also an Apple TV?
It already has a chip – it may lack onboard storage, but adding the amount needed to run tvOS and some media apps would be a fairly minor task. There are also examples from other companies that are already doing this: Samsung M-series smart monitors have a Smart TV mode with their cool homemade software on board.
I shared this idea with gaming-updates Slack and got some warm comments as to why it’s useless – you’re connecting a studio display to a Mac that can clearly play all of the Apple TV’s features and more.
But in reality, the native Apple TV app for macOS is a little bit off. And to access Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more, you need to visit all of the relevant sites separately using a browser, which is a lot more clumsy and less elegant than installing apps on a simple home screen. Again, there’s a reason Samsung created a line of hybrid Smart TV monitors and added more models to it over time.
Also, I’m willing to bet that the Studio Display would actually be a pretty tempting buy as a TV in its own right. The industrial design is at its best, outperforming most TVs today, even among the class of TVs that tend to be in the higher price range, simply because they are designed for the living room (like the Samsung bezel and serifs). I look better.
Think of it as an extended goal, but the Studio Display would also make a great Apple TV with its built-in webcam, speakers, and microphone. This could make for a great headless Zoom machine (or equivalent) for more relaxed video conferencing.
However, I think this is a bit off and will also require some redesign of tvOS and what apps and services it supports. While Apple could have added Apple TV functionality to this monitor at no extra cost, thanks to this curious inclusion of the A13 chip, consumers can benefit from or simply use it as a normal monitor – the opposite is true.
In an ideal world, a future firmware update would include tvOS and activate it after purchase. As it stands, I don’t think the Studio Display has (enough?) built-in memory for the operating system and Apple TV apps to work properly, which seems like a missed opportunity to me.