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 : external display goes black when I close my MacBook

Question :

Since I need to work form home at this moment, I have connected an external display. It works great and I now have a far better overview than I had on my tiny MacBook Pro screen. Now I have connected a USB-keyboard and a wireless mouse, so I would like to close my MacBook’s lid while I’m working on the external display. But, somehow, every time I close my MacBook’s lid, the connection to the display is lost and the display goes black…

What is going on ?

 

Answer :

To prevent your battery from draining while you are not using your MacBook, all connections are cut off when the lid is closed (since you cannot access the keyboard or the screen when the lid is closed). This also means that the connection to your external display will be cut off whenever you close your MacBook’s lid.

However : since your MacBook’s battery will no drain as long as extra power is provided, this shut down feature will not be activated as long as your MacBook is plugged into the wall charger. So, there’s your answer : just plug your MacBook into external power, and your external display will not go black when you close the MacBook’s lid.

Note : if you already have your MacBook connected to external power and your external display still goes black, see this post.

That’s it !

enjoy 😉

fixed : NVIDIA GeForce NOW completely broken in macOS 10.15 Catalina

Question :

I’ve just upgraded to macOS 10.15 Catalina on my MacBook Pro, but now the NVIDIA GeForce NOW app is broken so I can no longer play Fortnite in a decent way…

The NVIDIA GeForce NOW app seemed to have disappeared completely from my Mac, but I found it is still in the Applications folder, but the icon is now a greyed-out NO ENTRY sign… so nothing happens when I click on it…

What can I do ?

 

Answer :

For some unknown reason, some upgrades to macOS 10.15 Catalina break the NVIDIA GeForce Now app…

Luckily, the solution is simple : download the latest version of NVIDIA GeForce NOW here and install it… choose Replace Old Version during install and then just restart the app…

It’s simple as that…

enjoy 😉

fixed : Birthdays not showing in macOS Calendar.app

Question :

I just did a clean install of macOS on my Mac and everything works fine. Except for one thing…

The birthdays of my contacts are not showing up in Calendar.app even though they were properly showing in Calendar.app on my previous version of macOS and they are still showing up properly in Calendar.app on my iPhone.

I’ve already tried unchecking and re-checking the checkmark at “Birthdays” in the list of available calendars (at “Other”), login out of iCloud and back in, restarting my Mac, adjusting some birthdays in Contacts.app, etc. Simply put : I’ve tried any solution I could think of…

How can I fix this ?

 

Answer :

The solution might be simple, but easily overlooked :

in Calendar.app on macOS, go to “View” in the menu-bar and when the pulldown-menu appears, put a checkmark at “Show All-Day Events”, then click “Refresh Calendars”.

That’s it.

enjoy 😉

 

 

fixed : internet on wireless but not on LAN according to AirPort Utility

Question :

Lately I have had a bad and unstable internet connection. I have a Mac and it has been working fine for years. My internet provider is Vodafone-Ziggo.

I tried to find out what was wrong using the AirPortUtility.app on my Mac, and I found something strange : when selecting my wireless WiFi-network, my internet connection is presumed working, but when selecting my wired LAN-network, I get an error message saying there is no internet connection.

If it would have been the other way around, I could think of an explanation… but having wireless internet connection from my router and not LAN-internet just doesn’t make sense…

I’ve tried numerous resets of the Ziggo-modem, of my TimeCapsule and of my Mac. Nothing helps.

Do you have any suggestions on fixing this ?

 

Answer :

Even though you’ve tried most of the available options already, there is one other thing I would suggest to try :

  • make sure the UTP/Ethernet/LAN-cable is correctly connected into both your Mac and the ‘local network device’ (be it a TimeCapsule, a router, a modem, a network-switch or a wall-socket)
  • then, on your Mac : click on the Apple-icon (top-left on your Mac’s desktop screen)
  • in the pulldown menu, click on “System Preferences”
  • in the window that opens (“System Preferences”), click on “Network”
  • in the window that opens (“Network”), click on “Ethernet” in the list on the left
  • in the info that appears on the right, check if it says “Status : Connected”
  • if it doesn’t, your UTP/Ethernet/LAN-cable isn’t connected properly, so check all network-cables again until it says “Status : Connected”
  • then, click the Advanced-button
  • in the window that opens, click on the DNS-tab
  • in the info that opens, at “DNS Servers:” make sure that you have at least included one of the following DNS Servers : 8.8.8.8 (Google), 8.8.4.4 (Google), 208.67.222.222 (OpenDNS) and/or 208.67.220.220 (OpenDNS)
  • if none of those DNS Servers are listed yet, add them by clicking on the +/Plus-button bottom-left
  • then click on the Proxies-tab (of the elongated TCP/IP-button)
  • in the info that opens, make sure to remove the check-mark at both “Web Proxy (HTTP)” and “Secure Web Proxy (HTTPS)”
  • in case both were already switched OFF, I would suggest to switch both of them to ON
  • then leave the rest as is, and click on the OK-button
  • in the previous window that appears, click the “Apply”
  • now check the AirPortUtility.app again, and you should see that the internet connection is back up for both the wireless and wired/LAN connection
  • also check by opening Safari (or another internet browser) and refresh the page by clicking on the circular arrow in the address bar

That’s it !

enjoy 😉

fixed : Benq monitor stays black when MacBook is switched on

Question :

I have a Benq BL2420PT external monitor as a desktop screen connected to my MacBook using a Displayport-cable (actually a miniDisplayport-to-Displayport-cable). When my MacBook goes into sleep mode or the Ben monitor goes into sleep mode itself the screen goes black. But when I try to revive the monitor by moving my external mouse or pressing any key on my (external) keyboard, the MacBook starts up, but the Ben monitor’s screen stays black.

This same thing sometimes happens when I startup my MacBook and close the lid before the Benq monitor switches on.

What can I do to fix this ?

 

Answer :

The following trick might help for other Benq monitors, and maybe even for different brands of monitors also. This works for the Benq BL2420PT monitor if the screen stays black even when the connected Mac is turned on :

  • on the frame of the screen, bottom right, you see 5 indicator lights, next to the Power-indicator ; these are all touch-buttons
  • if the Power-indicator/button is steadily glowing in white, don’t touch it ; only if it has another color, touch it to switch on the monitor
  • if the Power-indicator still doesn’t glow white, check if all cables are connected properly and make sure the physical ON/OFF-switch on the bottom of the screen is switched ON
  • touch the one indicator light/button that is nearest to the centre of the screen (so the most left one)
  • if a message appears “No cable connected”, just wait
  • if a menu appears with 5 cable connectors to choose from, don’t touch anything, just wait
  • just wait (usually up to 30 seconds, sometimes even a minute) and the screen will switch on

NOTE : the most important thing is that you DO NOT (neither accidentally nor intentionally) touch any other indicator/button ! as this usually screws up the monitor’s software setting that corresponds to the physical cable connection (to correct that, you should toggle around with the these touch-buttons until the menu with the 5 cable connectors reappears and you can then choose the one that corresponds to your physically connected cable)

If the above doesn’t work, look here for alternate procedures to revive your black screen :

fixed : MacBook’s external monitor screen stays black

That’s it !

enjoy 😉