new 4K iMac causing motion sickness

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Jacobi, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. Jacobi macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2012
    #1
    I was so happy to get my new 4K iMac this week -- the Retina display is just beautiful. BUT: I can't use the thing for more than 10 minutes before feeling woozy -- my eyes feel strained and I get nauseous from a kind of motion sickness feeling. I am coming from a 2012 MacBook Air, which I can use for 12 hours straight without any problems. I also have an iPhone and iPad and don't have any issue with those screens. I've tried adjusting the brightness and scaling of the display, to no avail. Here are some theories:

    - Could it be the glossy display glass? I've never used a computer with this before. Is it different from iPhone/iPad's glossy display?

    - Could it have something to do with the scrolling / macOS motions on a larger screen? I feel like the effect happens more when I am scrolling webpages, switching between Spaces, etc. Maybe the screen is TOO smooth in its effects which is tricking my eyes somehow? And yet I scroll all day on my old MBA without issue.


    I would LOVE some insight here so I don't have to return my new iMac. But maybe I'll have to go Mac mini and use a non-glossy display or something.
     
  2. cruisin macrumors 6502a

    cruisin

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    #2
    The most likely reason is the technique used to dim the display, called Pulse Width Modulation or PWM.

    Since physically dimming the backlight is difficult to control, certain devices essentially flicker the light so that you get an average brightness that is dimmer. Since turning off the light actually fades off (not a sharp transition) you can "dim" the light by making a sequence of these dimming stages. Your eyes are supposed to blend this together, similarly to how classic CRT screens would not show them constantly being scanned top to bottom. Every device has its own specific version of PWM.

    Certain people are sensitive to certain flickering. Some people are affected by room lighting, some are not. Some people are affected by the new iPhone OLED screens, but are not affected by Samsung OLED screens (but both screens are made by Samsung).

    If you crank the brightness to high or even max, does the nausea go away? If yes then this specific PWM might be affecting you.

    Glossy screens on Apple devices usually have antireflective coatings, but you can try angling the screen away from windows or lights. I would consider this unlikely, especially since reflections don't bother you on the portable devices.

    You can try to watch a film and compare it against looking at a blank screen or a photo, with the brightness at 50 or lower. This should show if the flickering is a candidate.
     
  3. goslowjoe macrumors regular

    goslowjoe

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2017
    Location:
    On the lonely planet, somewhere in the desert
    #3
    OK, I am getting on the bus with this one too! Before I got my 27" iMac, I used my 2014 15" MacBook Pro, which is still serving me perfectly today. The 27" was just simply overpowering. I get the idea that with the MacBook Pro you are mostly looking downwards at an angle and you are focusing inwards, towards a much smaller viewing area (including iPhone and iPad). With the 27" iMac at home, as well as the 21" iMac I use at the office, I am looking up, or at least horizontally and outwards, at a much larger viewing area. I still get a strain in my neck, despite experimenting with my seating position. When scrolling, I sometimes get the same motion problem the OP has mentioned. My wife refuses to even touch my 27" iMac, saying it is just too overpowering for her to use.

    I am of the opinion that the very large expanse of mostly white text, such as on the MR forum right now, is just too much for my eyes, which is why I love dark mode and cannot wait for the next macOS update that will allow websites that use dark mode to be selected automatically, or so I understand it will be.
     
  4. StellarVixen macrumors 68000

    StellarVixen

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2018
    Location:
    Earth
  5. ccsicecoke macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    #5
    You were putting it too close. Try stay further away and lower the resolution
     
  6. Jacobi thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2012
    #6
    I returned it -- just not worth investing so much money in a computer that makes me ill! To be fair, I was slightly on the fence about it in the first place due to the likelihood of some kind of refresh this year. Maybe I'll try an iMac from the next batch to see if the panel is more agreeable. Side note: the new keyboard included with the iMac is terrible; much more painful to type on than the previous Magic Keyboard. I'm holding onto my MBA as long as possible and hoping Apple recognizes it is sacrificing function for form these days.
     
  7. chscag macrumors 68030

    chscag

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
    #7
    One thing I agree with you is that the latest Magic Keyboard included with iMacs is terrible. Lucky for me I still have two wired older style keyboards with the numpad and USB 2 hub built in.

    Stay away from the 27" iMac models if you're experiencing motion sickness or nausea since the larger screen and higher resolution will make it worse.
     
  8. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    #8
    Its funny, I have this issue in the video game area of Dave and Busters. I get so disoriented and I don't for more that a day. But I don't have the issue with my 5K iMac.
     
  9. chscag macrumors 68030

    chscag

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
    #9
    Some video games can induce motion sickness. What you need to do is let your eyes and head take a break from playing for awhile. The larger the screen size of your Mac or PC will make the motion sensation even more pronounced.
     
  10. Jacobi thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2012
    #10
    I'm back to using my old 27" 1080p basic LG display. It's just as close to my face as the smaller 21" iMac was, and I have zero issues. There was something particular about the iMac. I don't know if it was the Retina resolution itself, or something to do with the backlight that bothered the crap out of my eyes. (Even on low brightness settings.)
     
  11. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    #11
    I can't even start playing. Comes on within a few minutes.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 10, 2019 ---
    Try the 5K
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    OP wrote:
    "I'm back to using my old 27" 1080p basic LG display. It's just as close to my face as the smaller 21" iMac was, and I have zero issues."

    The ol' Fishrrman's credo:
    Use what works for you.

    If the 27" 1080p display "works" for you (I use a 27" 1080p myself), then smile, use it and don't worry about what others say.

    In your case, I'd suggest you look at one of the 2018 Mac Mini models instead of an iMac.
    I'd suggest the i5 model with 16gb of RAM (pre-installed) and either a 256gb or 512gb SSD (depending on your budget).

    It will plug right into the 27" and should run fine.
     
  13. Jacobi thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2012
    #13
    You guys... here's an alternate theory. I need to test this more today on my MacBook Air and my LG display, but: I'm wondering if the use of the macOS "Spaces" feature could be the culprit here. It's funny, but I never used Spaces before buying my new iMac. This is because I bought it for work and was playing around with a setup of having a "personal stuff" space and a "work stuff" space. When you think about it, the sideways motion of switching spaces could actually be motion-sick inducing. I will report back after further testing!
     
  14. Jacobi thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2012
    #14
    Just to follow up on this -- the use of excess motion in macOS, primarily the switching Spaces feature, was definitely part of the nausea issue. However, as I debate whether to take the plunge on a 2019 iMac, I've been going into my local Apple store and using the iMacs there to see how I'm reacting. And if I'm honest, I'm still getting sick feeling even just using a display iMac for a few minutes (not using any kind of motion effects; just starting at an open webpage). It does seem like turning the brightness way down lessens the effect. Still not totally sure what the deal is.
     
  15. chscag macrumors 68030

    chscag

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
    #15
    It's very likely that the Retina screen is the culprit. I know of another person that can not use a machine with a Retina screen because it causes him to have headaches. And it seems the larger the screen, the more effect it has.

    You might want to think about buying a Mac Mini and obtain a non Retina type display that you can live with. If the new iMac is making you nauseous there is no sense wasting over $2K on one.
     
  16. Jacobi thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2012
    #16
    Yes, that is what I'm currently considering. It's a shame because I love being all-Apple and having an all-in-one setup. I may wait for the release of Apple's new in-house display later this year just in case it's any different. But in all likelihood it will be a similar Retina display to the current iMac ones.

    The size issue is interesting. The retina iPads have no problematic effect on me. I don't know if it's because the panel, backlighting, or something is different, or if it's just a matter of size.
     
  17. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #17
    OP wrote:
    "And if I'm honest, I'm still getting sick feeling even just using a display iMac for a few minutes (not using any kind of motion effects; just starting at an open webpage). It does seem like turning the brightness way down lessens the effect. Still not totally sure what the deal is."

    How about a 2018 Mini with a NON-retina type display, such as 1080p or 1440p ?
    (posted before I read chscag's reply above)
     
  18. Jacobi thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2012
    #18
    Bumping this thread to say that I've also recently tried the LG UltraFine displays, and they have the same problem. If I go into the Apple store and spend even two minutes just looking at a Safari webpage on any of these screens, I feel sick to my stomach. It's so weird. I tried turning on night shift and lowering the brightness a lot and it's still happening.

    At this point I'm not sure whether it is the glossy nature of the display, or the Retina aspect of it, or the backlight. But it seems probable to me that it's one of the first two, and has to do with my eyes being unable to comfortably focus on the plane of the screen like I can with my matte MBA display.
     
  19. codernova macrumors member

    codernova

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    #19
    Sorry to hear that. I'm normally sensitive to low refresh rates, motion sickness in vehicles, etc. but my new 2019 iMac has given me no issue.
     
  20. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #20
    Again, I'll make my recommendation:

    Get a 2018 Mini (configured as you like).

    Then, get either a 27" 1080p display or a 32" 1440p display.
    Either is NON-retina.

    I think the above combination will "do it" for you.
     
  21. Jacobi thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2012
    #21
    Thanks, this is what I'm most likely going to do this week -- I was waiting until WWDC in the off chance Apple released a new standalone monitor that may have worked better for me (the $6000 one doesn't count ;)). Any reason you suggest those particular sizes? And any specific monitor recommendations that you've seen?
     

Share This Page

20 March 6, 2019