Mid-2013 13" MacBook Air – Need a display!

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by DrMotownMac, Oct 30, 2016.

  1. DrMotownMac macrumors 6502

    DrMotownMac

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    #1
    I have a mid-2013 13" MacBook Air with a 1.7 GHz i7 processor, 4 GB RAM, and 512 GB SSD. It runs perfectly well but I have recently found that I need much more screen real estate.

    Meanwhile, rather than releasing new iMacs on 10/27, Apple decided to release new MacBook pros with a little touchscreen function bar, which I absolute do not need right now.

    My question is this: Should I spring for one of the new LG 4K or 5K monitors, or will they even WORK with my 3-year-old MacBook Air? I'm thinking EVENTUALLY, I'll need to upgrade to a MacBook Pro, and when the time comes, I'd like my new big screen monitor to be compatible with whichever future MacBook Pro I choose to get. But at the same time, I will need it to work with my current MacBook Air and my wife's mid-2013 11 inch MacBook Air. Any thoughts? Should I just wait until 2017 (or maybe 2018) to get a new iMac? Should I spring for the "new" iMac now, even though it's over a year old and hasn't gone down in price yet? Or is there a monitor I can buy that will satisfy my needs today AND be forward compatible with whichever laptop I may own in the next few years?
     
  2. cbdilger macrumors newbie

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    Oct 15, 2013
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    West Lafayette, IN
    #2
    Yes, adding an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse (trackball) is very useful and not that expensive.

    Look up your max resolution here: https://support.apple.com/specs/macnotebooks — I'm guessing it's 2560 by 1600 for both machines. 24" or 25" monitors that run at that resolution are pretty nice. Not 4K-level sharp but still quite good (e.g. Dell Ultrasharp series).
     
  3. DrMotownMac thread starter macrumors 6502

    DrMotownMac

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    #3
    Thank you so much! Great advice! So, two more questions...
    (1) If I were to buy one of these Dell Ultrasharp monitors, would I need to buy a webcam along with it, or are there any that come with the camera built into the monitor (like on my MacBook Air)?
    (2) If I decide to buy the brand new MacBook Pro in 2017, would this Dell Ultrasharp monitor work with it, or would I need to upgrade to one of the new 4K or 5K monitors?
     
  4. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #4
    You don't seem very clear about when you will replace the MBA. My only observation is that monitor/tv prices have been steadily dropping and you get more for less as time passes. I replaced several old screens recently that originally cost over $1000 each. The replacments are much nicer and cost less than $150 each.

    Could you be happy with 1920x1080 until you are ready to get a new computer? It's fine for me (although I still use a 10+ year old Apple Cinema Display at 1920x1200 also). Anyway, you can get nice HD screens like this in the $100 to $150 range. Then when you upgrade computers in 2017 or 2018, look at the available options at that time. They are only going to get cheaper. OTOH, if you get an iMac, you may not need another screen.
     
  5. DrMotownMac thread starter macrumors 6502

    DrMotownMac

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    #5
    Thanks! Is there a particular $150 HD monitor you like or would recommend?
     
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #6
    I'm sure there are many. I didn't do any real research but I got a 24" Vizio smart TV at Best Buy last month. I think it was $135. Have been really happy with it, am using it to type this with my 11" MBA right now. One thing I like is the amount of control you have over the picture, I haven't seen menus in this depth on any other consumer TV in fact, including advanced color calibration.

    I am not using any of the smart TV features at all, just using it as a computer monitor. I have also used it as a straight monitor with component output from a Sony professional DV deck. Worked really well for that too.

    Best Buy also had a 24" LG smart TV that had a bit newer technology LCD panel and I got one of those too for about $160. I ended up returning it, the smart TV features seemed more intrusive (annoying "cutesy" icons) and just using the menus for normal TV functions seemed really sluggish. Much happier with the less expensive Vizio, but that's just me. :)

    I'm sure there are a lot of other options. I wanted a "TV" that had component video inputs in addition to HDMI. Since you probably don't need that, you could look at computer monitors, which are probably even cheaper.
     
  7. DrMotownMac thread starter macrumors 6502

    DrMotownMac

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    #7
  8. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #8
    Cool. I have never used my MBA in clamshell mode. Seems to me there was discussion of some possible issues in the past, but nothing I can put my finger on.
     
  9. DrMotownMac thread starter macrumors 6502

    DrMotownMac

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    #9
    I certainly hope there aren't any issues! It would be a major hassle if I have to return all of this stuff. Well, if anyone is interested, I'll post an update after I get everything hooked up and running. But my thought is to put the MBA off to the side, in the BookArc, and then run it using the Dell monitor and my old wireless Apple keyboard and Magic Trackpad I used to use with my now nearly dead 2008 iMac. The idea, of course, is that it will FEEL like I'm on a 27 inch iMac, but in reality, I'll be running off of my MBA. I sure hope it all works as advertised!fw
     
  10. CrusoeUK macrumors newbie

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    Jul 9, 2014
    #10
    Seems like you've already made your purchase but i was recently in the same position. Owner of an i7 8gb 2014/13 Macbook Air and needed more screen real estate. Realised i couldn't power (or afford) a 4k screen i brought the Dell U2515H monitor (as i use the 27" version at work and think its a great monitor). I don't run the macbook in clamshell mode as i use its screen as a secondary screen using the mStand360 to lift the macbook Air up a little. Loving this new setup.

    IMG_0031.JPG
     
  11. DrMotownMac thread starter macrumors 6502

    DrMotownMac

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    #11
    Wow, that's a very sweet looking setup! Oh man, now I'm starting to regret getting the 24 inch display. I was concerned because the MacBook Air has a 16 x 10 aspect ratio (like the 24 inch monitor I purchased) but the 25 and 27 inch displays have the 16 x 9 aspect ratio. So I was afraid my screen would look skewed in some way, or I'd have black bars at the top and bottom of the display, or something like that. So, I bought the inferior monitor probably for a dumb reason. I guess it costs less money, so that part's good. But, I'm wondering if I made the wrong choice. Anyway, your setup looks awesome! I hope it works as well as it looks like it would!

    I'm primarily using this at my medical office to do webcam medical consults with patients. It works fine on my laptop screen, but I don't have any screen real estate to open other windows to type up my notes or to write prescriptions. This new monitor should, in theory, give me room for FOUR separate windows to be open on the screen at the same time. So, I can multitask while I'm talking to a patient. AND, the added bonus is that the larger screen size will allow me better SEE the patient, so I can make more accurate diagnoses, especially with respect to things like rashes, skin lesions, and even exudate in the back of someone's throat (believe it or not, I have them use their iPhone's LED as a flashlight to shine in the back of their own throat)!

    (Sorry...I was going to plug the telemedicine service, but that's not appropriate in this forum. My point was just to explain WHY I needed the large monitor on my desk.)
     
  12. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #12
    The only time that might be an issue would be if you mirror the built-in screen to the external monitor, and that really doesn't make sense because you'd be limited to the native resolution of the MBA instead of the monitor itself. If you configure the monitor as a second screen in System Preferences, it will use the full area. Nothing will be distorted and there will be no black bars, you'll just have a larger (and maybe different shaped) work area.
     
  13. Buggyflayer macrumors regular

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    Nov 13, 2014
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    West Sussex, UK
    #13
    I've been using a Dell U2415 with my MacBook Air for about a year and its been fantastic with the built-in USB hub too. Like CrusoeUK I use my Air as a second screen on a (homemade) stand and also have the keyboard routed through the Dell.

    My colleague also using a MacBook Air was so impressed he ordered one the day after I got mine. He runs his in clamshell mode with no issues other than the very occasional need to open it for a video-conference call - haven't bothered with a separate webcam.
     
  14. DrMotownMac thread starter macrumors 6502

    DrMotownMac

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    #14
    Okay, I got my Dell monitor and my Logitech webcam, and both seem to work great. BUT, I have a few quick questions I was hoping you all could help me with....

    Question #1: I already had a mini-DV to VGA adapter dongle (from giving Keynote and PowerPoint presentations in the past) and it works fine. However, it seems like I should be using the mini-DV to DVI adapter and the DVI cable instead of the VGA cable. Is this correct? Will the quality improve with DVI? If not, then why do people use DVI vs. VGA?

    Question #2: My webcam is plugged in directly to my closed MacBook Air (in clamshell mode) and it works fine. BUT, is there a way I can plug the webcam into one of the USB ports on the monitor? That would be cleaner, but when I tried it, it didn't work. Perhaps this is what I need the DVI cable for?

    Finally, Question #3: I don't love the sound coming out of my MBA, and I didn't even CONSIDER speakers before, since all of my previous Apple products (iMacs, MacBooks, iPads, iPhones) all did great without external speakers. But, this Dell monitor is speaker-less, and when the laptop is closed and on the side of my desk, my sound is a little muffled and muted. I'm not looking to DJ parties from my office. I just need enough sound to be able to carry on some high quality webcam consultations and meetings. The dual mics on the Logitech webcam seem to be at LEAST as good as the built-in mic on the MBA. Do you guys have any recommendations for speakers with my setup? Obviously, I'd prefer to plug those into the monitor as well, but if I have to plug into the laptop, I certainly could.
     
  15. Buggyflayer macrumors regular

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    Nov 13, 2014
    Location:
    West Sussex, UK
    #15
    1. Try the supplied DVI, you know you want to ;-) once you see it does look better on screen as well as aesthetically not having a dongle hanging there put the VGA dongle in your projector bag ASAP.

    2. Surprised at this, I had one old USB HDD that needed more current than was available but no issues with anything else. The DVI cable doesn't affect USB.

    3. The output via the Dell monitor works fine (if memory serves, you will need the DVI cable for that to work) but you can't control the volume via software. Having everything plugged in via the monitor means that heading out the door its only 3 wires to unplug.
    I use Mackie CR 3's for decent sound for the size & cost http://mackie.com/products/cr-series but if you are likely to be doing some more Keynote/Powerpoint presentations in the future you should maybe think about something like this http://www.jbl.com/bluetooth-speakers/JBL+FLIP+III.html you can put it anywhere as it connects with BlueTooth. I've used these and they sound good but there are loads of manufacturers and styles out there. Happy hunting!
     
  16. RedTomato, Nov 9, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2016

    RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #16
    1. DVI gives far better quality than VGA. DVI sends the picture via a digital signal. VGA is analogue and is about 30 years old at this point. DVI also allows you to use a higher resolution for the monitor display.

    2. You need a USB cable from monitor to the laptop. This is to carry the signal from the monitor's internal usb hub to the laptop. It'll probably look like a printer USB cable with a largish square plug on one end (this goes in the monitor) and a normal flat plug on the other end (this goes in the laptop).

    3. Check Amazon for best selling. Most speakers use an audio cable that plugs into the laptop. You could got USB-audio speakers and plug them into the monitor's USB hub. One less cable to plug into laptop. Or go for bluetooth speakers to go with your bluetooth mouse and keyboard. This isn't really my area though.

    EDIT: I just realised you probably already have your iPad and keyboard plugged into the monitor. Perhaps there isn enough power for both the iPad and the camera. Or maybe it needs an extra cable or some fiddling in the monitor menu settings (on the monitor, not in OSX).
     

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