tips : which affordable display is best for working from home with a MacBook Pro ?

Question :

I need to work from home and I am looking for an affordable display to hook up to my MacBook Pro, to make my work a little easier.

Do you have any recommendations ?

 

Answer :

When buying an external display and having only a few hundred euros of budget*, look at these specs mainly, and decide which order of priority they have in your specific case :

*= this is for people who do not have a budget of €500 or more

  1. HDMI or DisplayPort :
    • what ports does your MacBook (Air/Pro) have ?
      • if it has USB-C (or Thunderbolt 3) only, get a display with HDMI-input and get a USB-C-to-HDMI-cable that can handle 4K@60Hz
      • if it has a miniDisplayPort (or Thunderbolt 1 or 2) and regular sized USB-ports, get a display with DisplayPort(v1.2)-input and a get a miniDisplayPort-to-DisplayPort-cable
  2. number of pixels (is preferrred over screen size) :
    • in any home office or home schooling situation, you will not be more than 60cm away from your screen (note : the front of the screen will be about 10cm in front of the wall, because of the display stand) : so there’s no need for a huge screen :
      • when you are about 40cm from your screen, go for a 21″ to 24″ display
      • when you are about 50cm from your screen, go for a 24″ to 27″ display
    • any display with 1920×1080 (1K/HD) pixels or more will do just fine
      • 1920×1080 looks great on 21″ or 24″ 16:9 screen
      • but 1920×1080 looks fuzzy on a 27″ 16:9 screen
      • 2560×1080 looks okay on a 27″ wide screen
      • but 2560×1440 looks great on a 24″ 16:9 screen
  3. IPS display :
    • for home office work or home schooling, get an IPS display – it has better color representation and is easier on the eyes when using it for extended periods (hours and hours of continuous working)
    • for gaming, you might consider getting some other type of display, like TN, that enables you to get higher refresh rates for a tighter budget, but you shouldn’t use those for anything other than gaming
  4. refresh rate :
    • for home office work, a refresh rate of 5ms @60Hz is perfect
    • for gaming, get as close to 1ms @144Hz as your budget can afford (3ms @100Hz or 2ms @75Hz is okay for budget gaming)
  5. adjustable height (and orientation) :
    • because of ergonomics, it is important that you adjust the height to make sure top of the display is at the same height as your eyes when sitting straight up
    • because light reflection on the screen will be extremely annoying, make sure the display has the option to slightly tilt
    • only if you are working on a lot of text documents you will benefit from the option to twist the display’s orientation from landscape (regular) to portrait mode
  6. integrated multi-port USB3-hub :
    • this is an essential ! make sure that there is a USB-multipier in the display and that it’s USB3.0 or USB3.1 based
      • since there aren’t many USB-ports on your MacBook (Air/Pro), you will need extra USB-ports (especially if you have a USB-C MacBook (Air/Pro), since you will need one USB-C port to connect the screen)
      • a USB-port on your screen will enable you to connect a USB3-to-GigabitEthernet-adapter which will outperform your WiFi connection, and your MacBook (Air/Pro) will instantaneously be connected to fast wired internet the moment you connect it to your display
    • 2 extra USB-ports on the Display is the bear minimum : you should prefer 4 or more USB-ports, so you can connect these if you need to :
      • a USB-mouse
      • a USB-keyboard
      • a USB-to-Ethernet adapter (preferably USB3-to-GigabitEthernet)
      • a USB-printer
      • a USB-scanner
      • a USB-flashcardreader (for photo camera memory cards)
      • a USB-to-TV adapter (e.g. an EyeTV stick, to watch picture-in-picture TV)
      • connect or charge your iPhone or iPad
      • an external harddrive or backup drive
    • for a keyboard or mouse (or even a wired joystick/joypad) you don’t really need a USB3.0 or USB3.1 connection, but for data transfer it will save you a lot of time
  7. price :
    • do not go for ‘lowest budget’ if you need to use the display for working from home or home schooling, find a display for €200 to €250 : even though you cheaper displays are available, do not buy any display that was under €200 when released : most of the time, you will be better of getting a slightly older (up to 3 years) display model that used to cost €300 or more
      • make sure you also take into account the extra headphone, sound system, ethernet-adapter, mouse, keyboard and alike when deciding on your budget for the display
  8. integrated webcam :
    • if you need to do video-conferencing, make sure you get a webcam with your display – an integrated webcam will turn out to be very convenient (an integrated webcam cannot compete with a high-quality webcam, but if you use an external webcam, make sure to get a display with a USB3-hub with enough ports in your display)
      • added bonus of most integrated webcams is that de webcam is either pop-up or slide-to-open, so you can easily prevent being ‘accidentally’ exposed to webcam viewers
      • make sure the integrated webcam is 1.2 megapixel (1.2MP) or more : the FaceTime HD webcam that is built into a MacBook is at least 1.2MP (in an iPhone X the selfie camera is even 7MP)
  9. integrated microphone :
    • if you have the need for a webcam on your display, make sure you also have a microphone – an integrated microphone will turn out to be very convenient (an integrated microphone cannot compete with a headphone with integrated microphone, a gaming headphone or a separate directional of voice microphone)
  10. integrated speakers :
    • most displays do not have integrated speakers, but having the option to watch home schooling lessons or YouTube-videos without a headphone are very convenient, even though audio quality of most integrated speakers is okay but not impressive (if you do not already have an audio systemconnected to your MacBook, these integrated speakers might even turn out to be essential)
  11. bezel thickness :
    • the bezel (the edge around the actual screen) is really important if you want to set multiple displays side-by-side, but most of the time it is only a matter of taste in design : about 15mm is okay, especially if the display will be placed in front of a distracting environment (like a window, fancy wallpaper or a hallway)

Note : make sure you also think about these :

  • you need to use an external keyboard and mouse (or trackpad) :
    • any mouse or keyboard that suits you will do, so if you have an old mouse and even keyboard around, use those
      • for work, USB, Bluetooth and RF (wireless connection from a dedicated USB-to-wireless-plug) will all do
      • for gaming, only USB is advisory as any wireless connection might get laggy during intensive use
    • if you need to buy a new keyboard, think about these :
      • get a ‘Designed for Mac’ keyboard with the Mac key-layout, so with a COMMAND/CMD-key (and not a WINDOWS-key : only if you can typ blindly without any restrictions, you can get a Windows-layout keyboard and remap the keys in macOS)
      • get a keyboard that suits your main language : usually that is a QWERTY-layout, but for French it is AZERTY-layout and for German it is QWERTZ-layout (this will also help when you need to use accents in texts)
      • if you need to typ a lot, get a keyboard mechanical keys and spacing between all keys
      • if you need to input a lot of numbers (if you’re in accounting or working with Excell sheets) get a full-size keyboard with an integrated numeric pad (on the right of the keyboard)
      • a keyboard with an integrated trackpad can be beneficial for some, but make sure you get one with a Mac key-layout
      • an ergonomic keyboard can be really beneficial, but there are very few ergonomic keyboards with a Mac key-layout
    • if you need to buy a new mouse, think about these :
      • a mouse with a right and left button and a scroll-option will do for most purposes
        • most people have no need for a fancy gaming mouse with more than these 3 functions
      • consider using a trackball or ergonomic mouse
      • a Bluetooth or RF-wireless mouse does have downsides :
        • it will need to be charged (Apple’s Magic Mouse 2 is problematic in this respect…)
        • it easily gets lost
        • when the battery is down, you will need to open your MacBook and use the built-in trackpad until the mouse is recharged
    • if you need to buy both a new mouse and a new keyboard, have a look at the mouse & keyboard combo offerings by renowned brands like Logitech,
  • make sure your MacBook (Air/Pro) has it’s power adapter plugged in when using an external display, else you cannot use your display with the MacBook’s lid closed and your MacBook will quickly run out of battery
  • if your MacBook has USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports, and your Display doesn’t have a built-in multi-port USB3-hub, consider getting a USB-C Docking-hub
  • if your MacBook has regular USB ports, and your Display doesn’t have a built-in multi-port USB3-hub, consider getting yourself an additional USB3-hub
  • if your mouse is on a very reflective surface (like a glass table) or a wobbly surface (like a rustic wooden table), your mouse will not work reliably, so it is advisory to use a mouse mat (or a plastic placemat or even a sturdy-covered magazine)
  • to minimize the clutter of cables, you can use a cable hose to keep your cables together (budget option : use tie-ribs, or even ‘the pieces of plastic covered metal wire’ that you get with nearly every cable or electronic device you buy, to tie your cables together)

 

Some suggestions (no single display is optimal on all requirements) :

for office & graphic work : BenQ BL2420PT display : 23.8″ / 16:9 / 2560×1440 (2K/QHD) / 5ms / 60Hz / IPS / HDMI v1.4 & DisplayPort v1.2 / adjustable height & orientation / 2x USB2.0 out / no webcam / 2x 1W stereo-speakers / audio minijack out / 15mm bezel

for videoconferencing & office work : Philips B-line 241B7QPJKEB / 23.8″ / 16:9 / 1920×1080 (1K/HD) / 5ms / 60Hz / IPS / HDMI v1.4 & DisplayPort v1.2 / adjustable height & orientation / 3x USB3.0 out / pop-up 2MP webcam / 2W stereo-speakers / audio minijack out / 2mm bezel

for gaming : BenQ Zowie XL2411P display : 24″ / 16:9 / 1920×1080 (1K/HD) / 1ms / 144Hz / TN / HDMI & DisplayPort v1.2 / adjustable height & orientation / no USB out / no webcam / no speakers / audio minijack out / 15mm bezel

miniDisplayPort cable : Rankie miniDP-to-DP-cable : miniDisplayPort in / DisplayPort out / up to 4K/UltraHD (3840×2160)

USB-C to HDMI cable : Uni USB-C HDMI cable : USB-C in / HDMI out / up to 4K/UltraHD @60Hz (3840×2160)

USB3.0-to-Ethernet-adapter : TP-Link UE300 Gigabit LAN adapter : USB3.0 / RJ45 LAN / Gigabit (10/100/1000Mbps) Ethernet

USB-C-to-GigabitEthernet-adapter : AmazonBasics USB-C Gigabit LAN adapter : USB-C / RJ45 LAN / Gigabit (10/100/1000Mbps) Ethernet

USB2.0-to-Ethernet-adapter : TP-Link UE200 LAN adapter : USB2.0 / RJ45 LAN / 10/100Mbps Ethernet

USB3-hub : Vogek 6 port USB3.0 hub : powered hub / 6x USB3.0 out

office keyboard : Logitech K380 keyboard : full-size keys / wireless RF & Bluetooth / no numeric pad / macOS printing on-key / no trackpad

high-end office & design keyboard : Logitech MX keyboard : full-size keys / wireless RF & Bluetooth / numeric pad / macOS printing on-key / no trackpad

keyboard with trackpad : Logitech K400 Livingroom keyboard : full-size keys / wireless RF & Bluetooth / no numeric pad / no macOS printing on-key / trackpad

ergonomic mouse mat : Comfort Gel Wrist Support Mouse Pad

cable hose : Neoprene Cable Tube

 

 

fixed : Philips HUE lights not responding after upgrading to HUE Bridge

Question :

Previously we had our Philips HUE lights setup suing Bluetooth, but now we have bought ourselves a Philips HUE Bridge since we want to be able to set some wake-up, sleep and out-of-home routines on our HUE lights. But after installing the HUE Bridge, our Google Nest Hub can no longer connect to our HUE lights.

What is wrong ?

 

Answer :

Since you installed your Philips HUE lights over Bluetooth before you installed your Philips HUE Hub, you have switched from Bluetooth HUE connection to WiFi HUE connection, but your Google Nest Hub doesn’t know about this switch yet…

To fix this, do this :

  • first : to avoid confusion, it’s advisory to delete the HUE lights that you had set up over Bluetooth first from the Google Home.app
  • then, in the Google Home.app, click ‘Settings’
  • in ‘Settings’ screen, scroll down and click on ‘Add…’
  • in ‘Add and manage’ screen, click on ‘Setup device’
  • in ‘Setup’ screen, click on ‘have something already set up?’
  • in ‘Add devices’ screen, select ‘Philips HUE’ (if you don’t see it right away, use the search option top right)
  • you will be redirected to the MeetHUE.com login-page
  • login to your PhilipsHUE-account (you probably don’t have one yet, so either create a new one or sign in using your Google account)
  • follow the on-screen directions to link your HUE Bridge to your account ; press the big button on the HUE Bridge when prompted
  • now your HUE Bridge will be accessible from your Google Nest Hub
  • on the Nest Hub, swipe down from the top of the screen
  • in the pull down window, you will see your HUE lights
  • click on the HUE lights you want to adjust and adjust the lights as you wish

If you want to be able to control the HUE lights in Zones different from the Rooms, use the PhilipsHUE.app to setup new Zones first :

  • open PhilipsHUE.app
  • if the app doesn’t open in the Settings screen automatically, click on Settings (bottom right)
  • in ‘Rooms & Zones’ screen, click on the ‘Create new’ button (top left) 
  • in ‘Create new – Room’ screen click on the ‘Create Zone’ button and follow the onscreen directions
  • now the Zone will be listed in Google Home.app also
  • when the Zone is listed on the ‘Home’ screen in Google Home.app, click on the name of the room
  • in [Room/Zone name] screen, click on the gear/sprocket icon (top right)
  • in ‘Room’ screen, click ‘Choose devices’
  • in ‘Choose devices’ screen, check all HUE lamps you want to include in this Zone (note that Google Home names Zones as Rooms) and click the ‘Next’ button

Now your Philips HUE lights will be accessible from your Google Nest Hub both individually and as Rooms/Zones (Google Home names both as Rooms) :

  • on the Nest Hub, swipe down from the top of the screen
  • in the pull down window, you will see your HUE lights
  • click on the HUE lights you want to adjust and adjust the lights as you wish

Note : you can also select routines for the HUE lights from the Nest Hub if you have set them up in Google Home.app (like daily routines to use when you’re out of home)

That’s it !

enjoy 😉

fixed : is there a need for a Philips HUE Bridge when you have a Google Nest Hub ?

Question :

We have a Google Nest Hub setup in our home and we are going to buy some Philips HUE lamps somewhere in the near future. Do we need the Philips HUE Bridge to control the HUE lamps from the Nest Hub or not ?

 

Answer :

No, not really, you can control your Philips HUE lights directly from your Google Nest Hub on-screen (or using voice assistant).

The added value of using the Philips HUE Bridge over using Bluetooth :

  • connect up to 50 HUE lights (vs. max. 10 using Bluetooth)
  • connect any Zigbee-compatible smart light from any other brand (vs. Philips HUE lights only using Bluetooth)
  • connect to any connected Zigbee-compatible smart light in or around your home (vs.  connecting only to Philips HUE lights within ca. 10m using Bluetooth)
  • control your HUE Bridge and connected smart lights from anywhere in the world (vs. connecting to local Philips HUE lights only
  • option to use Apple HomeKit to control your HUE Bridge and connected smart lights (vs. no Apple HomeKit compatibility using Bluetooth : Google Home or Amazon Alexa only)

Here’s how to set this up without a Philips HUE Bridge :

  • make sure you have setup your Philips HUE lights in Google Home.app
  • swipe down from the top of the screen on your Google Nest Hub
  • in the pull down window, you will see your HUE lights listed
  • click on the HUE lights you want to adjust and adjust the lights as you wish
  • you can even select routines if you have set them up in Google Home.app (like daily routines to use when you’re out of home)

That’s it !

enjoy 😉

fixed : control child’s bedroom HUE lamp from 2 devices

Question :

We recently got several light blubs replaced by Philips HUE lamps in our home. We have setup everything to be used from one device, but now my son wants to adjust his bedroom lamp himself from his own iPhone.

How do we set that up ?

 

Answer :

There are various ways of setting this up, and most of them are straight forward. Here are a few of the simplest ones :

If you do NOT have a Philips HUE Bridge :

If you do have a Philips HUE Bridge setup already :

The setup process is rather simple, especially if you have done this befor (like you mentioned) : just follow the onscreen directions.

Note : you can also control Philips HUE lamps from your AppleWatch (if you have one) using the watchOS version of the PhilipsHUE.app that is automatically installed if your AppleWatch is connected to your iPhone.

That’s it !

enjoy 😉

fixed : new hi-res icon for Scanmarker.app

Question :

I have recently bought an Scanmarker Air scanner-pen. Seems like a great device. I’ve also installed the macOS-app. Strange thing is that the app’s icon is very pixelated.

How can I change that ?

 

Answer :

Scanmarker has released new colorful versions of the Scanmarker Air pen that can be bought here. It’s a great device for :

  • reading out written text from a book (very handy for anyone having dyslexia)
  • translating text on-the-fly
  • scanning text (or just portions of text) from textbooks

The official icon of the current Scanmarker app for macOS is still a 32x32pixels icon, which is a very old that shouldn’t be used in macOS (where 1024x1024pixels icons are standard).

Simplest way to fix this is to download an appropriate icon of higher resolution and paste that onto the app. Here’s how to :

  • either download my custom made 1024×1024 icon here :
  • or download the original icon here (still fuzzy since it is a 300x300pixels icon enlarged to OSX-native 152x152pixels) :  Scanmarker Android app icon
  • or download the icon of the iOS app here : ScanmarkerAir iOS icon
  • or download the diap desktop icon here :ScanmarkerAir OSX icon
  • after downloading your preferred icon, do this :
  • select the Scanmarker app in your Applications folder
  • press [CMD]+[I] to open the “Info” popup menu
  • then click on the icon (top left) and a blue outline will open around it
  • then open the file (with the icon as a picture) you’ve just downloaded in Preview
  • in Preview press [CMD]+[A] to select the entire image
  • then return to the Info-popup window, and press [CMD]+[V] to paste the new icon
  • now your Scanmarker app has a better looking icon
  • to make sure it also shows on the Desktop, delete the old Scanmarker alias from the Dock, then open the Scanmarker app again and right-click on it’s icon in the Dock and select “Keep in Dock” from the popup menu

That’s it !

enjoy 😉

Donate Button (MacManusNL)

 

 

 

 

fixed : Logitech Craft keyboard not recognized during macOS 10.14 Mojave startup

Question :

I have bought this great Logitech Craft keyboard and it works perfectly. I love it. With it’s backlit keys, it’s programmable crown-dial, it’s USB-C charging, it’s multiple device-switching and it’s very responsive keyboard keys, it’s a joy to work with and a very interesting alternative for Apple’s own Extended Magic Keyboard at roughly the same price point if you shop around.

The only problem is : when I start up (or restart) my Mac, the keyboard isn’t recognized so I can’t type my password to unlock my Mac…

When using the Carft keyboard with my MacBook Pro that isn’t a huge problem, since I can just open the MacBook Pro and use the built-in keyboard to bypass this, but with my new Mac mini… I’m stuck…

The only option I could come up with is to keep an old USB-keyboard connected to my Mac mini and just use it for loggin in only… but that’s not a very tempting solution…

Isn’t there any alternative solution ?

 

Answer :

Yes, there is… there are actually 3 alternative solutions (option 3 is the most versatile in my opinion) :

  1. use your Apple Watch to login on macOS Mojave (of course, this won’t work if you don’t wear an Apple Watch…)
  2. use the on-screen keyboard during login (the so called Accessibility Keyboard that you can use when only your mouse or touchpad is recognized)
  3. use Logitech’s Unifying Receiver (the 2.4GHz RF-connection USB-plug that came with your Craft keyboard)

1. To enable your Apple Watch to unlock macOS Mojave, do this :

  • go to Settings.app
  • click on “Security & Privacy”
  • in the window that opens, click on the “General”-tab
  • put a check mark at  “Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac”
  • then use the “<“-button to go back to the main Settings screen
  • then exit Settings.app (by clicking on the red dot top left)
  • now, you’ll only need to make sure you wear your Apple Watch and have it unlocked before you try to login on your Mac… (this seems trivial, but turns out to be complicated from time to time…)

2. To enable the on-screen keyboard during login, do this :

  • go to Settings.app
  • click on “Users & Groups”
  • in the window that opens, click on “Login Options”
  • then, click on the “Accessibility Options”-button
  • in the window that opens, put a check mark at “Accessibility Keyboard” and click the “Apply”-button
  • then use the “<“-button to go back to the main Settings screen
  • then exit Settings.app (by clicking on the red dot top left)

3. To setup the connection with your Craft keyboard using the “Unifying Adapter”, do this :

  • find the Unifying Receiver (the USB-plug) that came with your Craft keyboard… it might still be in the original box… if you can’t find it, you can get a new one here or at Logitech (Logitech charges $15 or €13 plus shipping for it)
  • plug the Unifying Receiver in one of the USB-ports on your Mac (or in a USB-port of a USB-hub that is connected to your Mac)
  • go to Settings.app
  • click on “Bluetooth”
  • in the “Devices”-list click on the Craft keyboard, the non the X-marked dot that appears on the right side of it (to un-pair the Craft keyboard from your Mac)
  • then go to https://support.logitech.com/en_us/downloads and download the latest version of the Logitech Options software
  • install the Logitech Options software on your Mac
  • then, go to Logitech Options.app and follow the directions to pair your Craft keyboard to your Unifying Receiver
  • note that in macOS 10.14 Mojave you will need to also allow Logitech Options.app in the Privacy settings, to do so do this :
    • go to Settings.app
    • click on “Security & Privacy”
    • in the window that opens, click on the “Privacy”-tab
    • then, click on “Accessibility” in the list on the left
    • then, put a check mark at “Logitech Options Deamon” on the right
    • then use the “<“-button to go back to the main Settings screen
    • then exit Settings.app (by clicking on the red dot top left)

That’s it !

enjoy 😉

fixed : new iPhone can’t connect to Polar heart band

Question :

On my previous iPhone I had several heart function registration apps that work with my Polar H10 band. Now I have replaced my iPhone for a newer one, these same apps on my new iPhone can’t connect to the Polar band. They don’t even list it as an available Bluetooth device.

What can I do to fix this ?

 

Answer :

To reconnect your Polar band to your new iPhone, in case the Polar band is not detected, do this :

  • attach the Polar band on your body (after moistening sensor strips)
  • open the app that couldn’t pair with your Polar band because it couldn’t find it
  • try to pair again
  • if the app can find your Polar band, let them pair
  • if the app can’t detect your Polar band, continue with the following
  • open the Polar Beat app (if you need to download it first, you can do that here)
  • if you don’t have an account yet, you can click “Continue” instead of “Sign in”
  • then click “Settings”
  • then click “HR sensor”
  • then choose ‘new device’
  • see the Polar band appear
  • click on it’s icon
  • save this new setting
  • open the other app that couldn’t find your Polar band
  • let it search for new devices
  • now see your Polar band appear in the list
  • then pair them

that’s it !

enjoy 😉