My beloved 23-inch Apple Cinema Display had been on the fritz for several months. It was a 9-year old monitor. It was getting dim and had something wrong with the logic board’s ability to recognize the power supply. In short, if the monitor ever lost power then I’d have to try and short-circuit / jumpstart the logic board into turning back on.
Now, I love the look of California-designed hardware on my desk as much as the next Apple nerd. But when my 23-inch ACD finally pooped out last fall, I wasn’t exactly set on replacing it with a Thunderbolt Display.
For anyone that's been following along, I invested in a mid-2012 11-inch MacBook Air last summer. I initially made the purchase due to the volume of travel I've been engaged in, but, in the months since, the 11-inch form factor has completely won me over for all usage scenarios.
I previously had a high-resolution 15-inch MacBook Pro — a device I loved — but it simply became an unnecessarily large and unwieldy device for me. Considering I work in different locations practically everyday, lugging a hot, heavy, and performance-based device became woefully impractical.
So, after several months of device harmony between the 15-inch and 11-inch laptops in my life, I sold the 15-inch Pro. Although managing two Macs is a relatively straightforward exercise these days, I'm a believer in having the most simplistic and minimal toolset available to me. That's not to say I wish to sacrifice power, but I simply do not want to burden myself with the sustenance of two devices, whilst also coaxing myself into an unnecessary decision-making process over which device to use each day.
In retrospect, it was a fantastic decision. The 11-inch Air is a phenomenal device in virtually every regard. I'll even go further and unequivocally state that it's the best Mac I've ever owned.
The only nagging trouble, however, is the lack of creative screen real estate. Although the 1366 x 768 pixel display facilitates the vast majority of my work, I occasionally like to dip into Xcode and more complex Illustrator tasks. In those cases, I find myself yearning for more flexibility and space that the 11-inch Air simply cannot provide.
So, for the past six months, I've been edging ever-closer to purchasing a 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display. Considering I predominantly rely upon Apple's computing products, it would only feel fitting to use one of their exquisitely designed displays on my desktop when I'm working from home.
And yet, as Shawn writes, the 27-inch Thunderbolt Display resides within the uncertain realm of refreshes and updates. In the era of Retina-enabled displays and thinning iMacs, it would seem illogical to invest in a display boasting a previous generation MagSafe adapter, amongst other outmoded technologies.
Accordingly, Shawn has taken a deep dive into the worlds of mysterious Korean displays, Monoprice, and Dell. And, at the end of the day, he's found that the Dell U2713HM-IPS-LED should be the weapon of choice for MacBook-toting consumers.
The display boasts the vast majority of perks of the 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display, but for several hundred dollars less. Although the margin of difference is relatively minor, it does, indeed, pose a significant difference when buying into these products.
At the same time, however, I cannot help but cringe at the Dell moniker emblazoned across the front of the display. In reality, I suspect I'd never pay much attention to this innocuous piece of branding. But, as a design-conscious individual, I cannot shake the feeling of asymmetry between the Dell display and my 11-inch Air.
I pride myself on being an open-minded person when it comes to the competitive technological landscape. In instances such as this, however, I simply cannot pull the trigger on a Dell-branded display.
Is that embarrassing? Probably.
But, as Dustin Curtis wrote several months ago, buying the very best available to you is an unreasonable, albeit liberating endeavor. It may appear illogical to the average person, but if it instills confidence in you, then it's an utterly worthwhile thing for you to pursue.
At the end of the day, all that we do on a day-to-day basis is derived from self-confidence. If you're able to rid yourself of worries and qualms over certain elements of your routine, you cognitively free yourself to focus upon other elements of your day.
Perhaps we're just talking about a computer display here, but I believe the message extends much further. I would never presume to question or deride the various lengths through which people endeavor to gain confidence in their day-to-day lives. Whether that's fussy coffee routines, OmniFocus reliance, or scripting, as long as you're contributing something active toward the betterment of your experience, then more power to you.
In this instance, I could easily fret about saving $400, or I could simply acknowledge that, realistically, I'd feel uncomfortable purchasing a display asymmetric of my other products. It's a simple and inescapable truth, but it frees up a significant volume of brain cycles for the coming months.
I know that the very moment Apple refreshed the Thunderbolt Display, I'd curse myself for the enormous chunk of ill-fitting technology on my desk. The $400 saved would suddenly not be a liberating volume of excess cash, it'd be $600 less than I'd need for a new, better display.
Suddenly, I'd be online researching, reading, and discerning which is the best product to buy. Or, in other words, I'd be wasting time.
It's the same reason I rid myself of my 15-inch Pro. Although it performed admirably, I didn't need the distraction of having a second device. I didn't need to find myself questioning my workflow each day. I just needed the best, most flexible and confidence-inducing device available to me. And, at the end of the day, that turned out to be the 11-inch Air.
So, for the pragmatist, I'd suggest you follow Shawn's advice. The Dell and Monoprice displays will presumably perform admirably. I wish I could operate in the same way you do. For the unreasonable aesthetes among us, on the other hand, don't attempt to fool yourself.
If you cannot love and forget what you own, then you're doomed to repeated processes of cognitive waste.