This year I’ve done some major office upgrades, going from a 9.7” iPad Pro to a maxed out 12.9” as well as upgrading an aging MacBook Air to a new fairly well upgrade Mac Mini. That left me with really only one big upgrade left to do, my older Dell 24” monitor.
At the time the Dell 24” UltraSharp was a great monitor, but after around 9 years it was simply a basic HD monitor that could be replaced for barely over $100. I’m doing more 4K video now as well, and having a monitor that can actually display the content I’m looking at seemed like a good thing.
Enter Black Friday sales and the LG 27UL500 4k monitor, which is a terrible name truth be told.
The LG 27UL500 supports up to three different input devices, 2 over HDMI and 1 over DisplayPort. Here is where we have one caveat I was not aware of when I purchased the monitor, iPadOS and the docs I have won’t output 4K over HDMI and HDMI doesn’t convert to display port with a basic cable, in fact I can’t find anything that will convert HDMI to a working DisplayPort signal. In practice this means that on all but a very few apps I have have black borders around the entire iPadOS window.
Not a deal breaker, but not exactly what I wanted either.
If you’re on an iPad and want 4k output you’ll need to look at USB C or something like the CalDigit USB-C Dock I learned about watching a recent video from Chris Lawley. Chris was the one that brought me the knowledge that I’d likely have to upgrade my docking situation from the Twelve South StayGo hub to something more powerful. In any case, if you’re on a basic USB C hub and want 4K from your iPad over HDMI, it doesn’t appear it will work with any 4K monitor.
The 27UL500 supports 4K fine on the HDMI port out of my Mac Mini though, so if you’re going from a computer, it should work just fine.
The final port this monitor has on the back is a headphone jack, which presents another slight issue for running it with an iPad. Every time you use the iPad with this monitor it will no longer use it’s internal speakers and wants you to use the LG monitor as the sound source. For video editing I’ve always just used the internal speakers, but now I’m using a set of bluetooth headphones to edit video.
For music playing this hasn’t been an issue since I always pipe music in my office over to my Sonos One (Gen 2) anyway. Sending my audio when I’m editing video though seems to be too laggy for effective use.
The 27UL500 has all the controls on a single joystick on the bottom of the monitor. This keeps the lines clean, but it does make me wonder about the longevity of the connection. Will the joystick stand up to switching input devices once or twice a day? We shall see.
The 27UL500 comes with a basic stand that will hold the monitor up. I never even used it because it wouldn’t have been high enough, and I wanted to put the monitor on my VESA mount so that my desk remained as clean as possible.
With standard 100mm mounting holes, the monitor went on my mount and stays out of the way just like my previous monitor. I really can’t see myself using a monitor stand again now that I’ve reclaimed my desk space. Though I have been looking at upgrading to a dual VESA mount system so that I can only have one thing mounted to my desk.
I’m not a display expert by any means. Heck, out of my iPad currently this is doing 4K 30Hz and some say that it’s a terrible experience, but I don’t notice it.
I find the display to be plenty bright, as in I have it turned down to less than half brightness because I always find displays way to bright at their maximum settings. The colours look great, and seem to match fairly closely with my 12.9” iPad Pro screen which Apple says they calibrate. When I’m viewing 4K video in LumaFusion on the screen while editing, it looks awesome. So good that when my wife came into my office while I was editing she remarked on how good it looked, and she doesn’t care about this tech stuff at all.
If you’re iPad first, I’d say look at the more expensive 27UK850-W because it supports USB C and should take 4K out of your iPad properly over USB C. I didn’t go with this option because it’s more expensive, and with a good USB C dock already in hand I didn’t figure I’d need the USB hub features of the monitor. If I had known about the 4K issue at the time of order, Iikely would have hung on and spent a bit more on the higher priced monitor.
If you’ve got a dock like the CalDigit one, or maybe this Pluggable 4K USB C Dock that has DisplayPort out then the monitor is a good choice. Even if you’re looking for a dock and don’t want to tie current display technology into a dock, it can be a great choice to get a monitor and compatible dock at the same time.
I don’t regret my purchase, but I’m saving up and doing some research on a new dock for my desk setup.