Apple's Studio Display uses a unique power connection, but don't pull it out

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware
The Studio Display uses a non-standard power connector on the back, but while it is technically removable, most users shouldn't pull that cable out.




While most computer monitors on the market use a standard power connector that allows the cable to be plugged in and removed easily, Apple went down a different route for the Studio Display. It uses its own connection for the cable, as well as shipping the monitor with the cable attached and in place.

The design is a departure from the norm for Apple, as most of its Mac-related hardware uses removable power connectors. The similarly-styled 24-inch iMac uses a magnetic connection at the same spot that the power connects in the Studio Display, but here it is fixed in place.

While Apple hasn't directly addressed the power cable situation, it has said in support notes "The power cord is not removable." It is evident that the cable should stay where it is, and that end-users shouldn't try to pull it free.

The design decision has left some wondering what exactly has happened.

Think different about power

Most users will be familiar with the C13 power cord, a three-pronged plug taking the form of a chunky rectangle with two corners cut away. This is a very common connector used throughout the computing industry for larger devices, including monitors and PCs.

The problem with the connector type is its size. The C14 inlet, which is used to accept the C13 connector, is too deep to be feasibly included in thin computing deices. That's why Apple doesn't use it on the extremely thin 24-inch iMac, or on the slightly thicker Studio Display.

The C13 is a standard design used for monitor power cables, but the Studio Display is too thin to use it.
The C13 is a standard design used for monitor power cables, but the Studio Display is too thin to use it.


Eliminating that connector option presented Apple with the need to come up with a different solution. While using smaller connectors could've been an answer, that typically relies on there being an external power brick in use. As Apple kept the power supply internal, it rules out that as an idea.

Instead, Apple had to come up with its own power connector, to allow a cable that could feasibly be replaced to be connected securely. At the same time, the connector has to do so without Apple needing to sacrifice any extra thickness.

As demonstrated by Nilay Patel on Twitter, you could in fact pull out the plug from the power connector, to reveal a shallow and custom three-prong system in play.



Since it is so thin, it is difficult for Apple to make it an infinitely removable component like its standard counterpart. Instead, it is made to fit far more securely, so it doesn't accidentally get removed by the user.

It is likely that Apple advises against removing the cable due to the difficulty in doing so normally, without accidentally causing damage to the cable, its connections, nor the display itself.

To service the cable, Apple support actually uses a special tool to pull it free. Shown by @StellaFudge on Twitter and confirmed to be real by an AppleInsider source, the tool is a large circular drum with a handle, that the power cable is wrapped around before being pulled free from the monitor.

The Studio Display Power Cable Removal Tool is absolutely wild! pic.twitter.com/MoCY0pCdXt

-- Stella - Fudge (@StellaFudge)


The tool's design and technique mean the cord is pulled evenly, without any torque off from the 90-degree removal axis.

Like Apple, AppleInsider advises against pulling the cable free unless it is absolutely necessary. You're more likely to break something in the process, if you're not careful.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    CheeseFreezeCheeseFreeze Posts: 1,044member
    In a world where sustainability is a factor, this feels like a design failure, although I obviously understand a cluncy ‘default’ connector isn’t an option. 
    Making this non-removable is terrible in professional settings demanding unique setups, and requiring Apple to fix issues with a tool like that feels completely backwards.

    I’m not an expert, but why couldn’t this be powered USB-C?

  • Reply 2 of 19
    ITGUYINSDITGUYINSD Posts: 403member
    No wonder the cost of the Studio Display is so high -- the R&D required to remove the power cord must have been massive!

    I bet the Power Cord Removal Accessory runs about $600.
    edited March 21
  • Reply 3 of 19
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 388member
    I’m not an expert, but why couldn’t this be powered USB-C?

    Because you'd then need an external brick to supply the USB-C power, something a lot more involved and non-sustainable than a mere power cord. 

    And not to mention the fact that the monitor supplies 96 watts of power to a connected notebook, requiring an even beefier power brick that could supply power for both the monitor and a notebook.
    scstrrfStrangeDayskaiserxstompywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 19
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,363member
    In a world where sustainability is a factor, this feels like a design failure, although I obviously understand a cluncy ‘default’ connector isn’t an option. 
    Making this non-removable is terrible in professional settings demanding unique setups, and requiring Apple to fix issues with a tool like that feels completely backwards.

    I’m not an expert, but why couldn’t this be powered USB-C?
    It probably could be, but that seems to be a recipe for confusion.  Imagine the I/O, one USB-C input for power, another (thunderbolt) USB-C input from computer, and three USB-C outputs to connected devices.  Then the device would have to manage whether it's drawing power from the power input, or the computer input, and if it's the power input then it maybe pushes power the other way into the computer.  Plus it potentially needs to power three additional connected devices, so needs to manage power between them, on top of those conditionals.

    A lot of unnecessary complication, when it's simpler (and still not exactly "simple") to stick with a standard power input.  Of course Apple chooses the third option which is worse in all regards.
    edited March 21 scstrrf
  • Reply 5 of 19
    hmlongco said:
    I’m not an expert, but why couldn’t this be powered USB-C?

    Because you'd then need an external brick to supply the USB-C power, something a lot more involved and non-sustainable than a mere power cord. 

    And not to mention the fact that the monitor supplies 96 watts of power to a connected notebook, requiring an even beefier power brick that could supply power for both the monitor and a notebook.
    Why is having your AC to DC conversion less sustainable in an exterior device (which could be used with different devices) than inside the product?
    jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 19
    hal301hal301 Posts: 3member
    I guess it comes down to would folks want an external power brick or not?  The 24" iMac power solution would work but then you'd have a brick on the ground - is that preferable to a non-detachable power cord that goes directly in the wall?  I think I like the non-brick option myself as I hate the clutter of bricks.
    scstrrfwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 19
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,205member
    hal301 said:
    I guess it comes down to would folks want an external power brick or not?  The 24" iMac power solution would work but then you'd have a brick on the ground - is that preferable to a non-detachable power cord that goes directly in the wall?  I think I like the non-brick option myself as I hate the clutter of bricks.
    People complained about the iMac’s external power supply. Now people complain about the Studio’s internal power supply. Is anyone suprised?

    This is a non-issue. My HomePod cable doesn’t come off, my receiver’s cable doesn’t come off, my favorite lamp cable doesn’t come off, my table saw cable doesn’t come off. This one does if you’re careful, great. Yet still the outrage machine seeks to manufacturer clicks because Apple.
    neilmkaiserxwookie01baconstangrandominternetpersonDetnatorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 19
    Thinking about the iMac 21.5" 2012+ power connector...
  • Reply 9 of 19
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 388member
    Why is having your AC to DC conversion less sustainable in an exterior device (which could be used with different devices) than inside the product?
    Which you could use to power another device... assuming, of course, that you didn't actually want to use that expensive monitor sitting on your desk at the same time. 

    Not to mention that bricks require additional connections, grommets, and a hard plastic case wrapped around the whole thing.

    And not to mention (though I will) that if you have two or three Studio Monitors on your desk you'ed have to deal with two or three rather large bricks lying around your floor.

    For heavens sake people, it's a power cord. At least Apple made the silly thing removable and replaceable (unlike, say, the Home Pod).
    kaiserxrandominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,256member
    In a world where sustainability is a factor, this feels like a design failure, although I obviously understand a cluncy ‘default’ connector isn’t an option. 
    Making this non-removable is terrible in professional settings demanding unique setups, and requiring Apple to fix issues with a tool like that feels completely backwards.

    I’m not an expert, but why couldn’t this be powered USB-C?

    Why would this demand a unique set up, it's a power cord, how else would you want to plug it into a power outlet?
    kaiserxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 19
    So the question is, if I move to another country that uses a different plug, what do I do? Can I buy the cord without having to buy a whole new version? This definitely seems to go against the freedom to fix (or whatever it is called) promise. I have to buy a stupid contraption just to pull the plug? Also why is the plug black (or dark coloured)?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 19
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,256member
    So the question is, if I move to another country that uses a different plug, what do I do? Can I buy the cord without having to buy a whole new version? This definitely seems to go against the freedom to fix (or whatever it is called) promise. I have to buy a stupid contraption just to pull the plug? Also why is the plug black (or dark coloured)?

    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 19
    In a world where sustainability is a factor, this feels like a design failure, although I obviously understand a cluncy ‘default’ connector isn’t an option. 
    Making this non-removable is terrible in professional settings demanding unique setups, and requiring Apple to fix issues with a tool like that feels completely backwards.

    I’m not an expert, but why couldn’t this be powered USB-C?

    The power transformer is situated inside the unit, and requires mains power.
    USB-C is low voltage, and not rated anywhere near the 120 Volts (or 240 Volts in Europe) that comes out of a mains power socket unfortunately. 

    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 19
    robabarobaba Posts: 226member
    They COULD HAVE used a bump on the rear of the case to accommodate the standard cord—they do something similar with the far more obtrusive camera bump on iPhones after all.  It’s just the choice they decided to go with, not necessarily the best choice imho.
    stompybaconstang
  • Reply 15 of 19
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,256member
    robaba said:
    They COULD HAVE used a bump on the rear of the case to accommodate the standard cord—they do something similar with the far more obtrusive camera bump on iPhones after all.  It’s just the choice they decided to go with, not necessarily the best choice imho.
    Apple cannot make the camera any tighter, it is technically impossible which is why the bump is there, this power outlet on the other hand can be with little to no sacrifice to the user. Not sure how often you intend to disconnect the wire from the computer, not many people do it often if at all. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 19
    crowley said:
    In a world where sustainability is a factor, this feels like a design failure, although I obviously understand a cluncy ‘default’ connector isn’t an option. 
    Making this non-removable is terrible in professional settings demanding unique setups, and requiring Apple to fix issues with a tool like that feels completely backwards.

    I’m not an expert, but why couldn’t this be powered USB-C?
    It probably could be, but that seems to be a recipe for confusion.  Imagine the I/O, one USB-C input for power, another (thunderbolt) USB-C input from computer, and three USB-C outputs to connected devices.  Then the device would have to manage whether it's drawing power from the power input, or the computer input, and if it's the power input then it maybe pushes power the other way into the computer.  Plus it potentially needs to power three additional connected devices, so needs to manage power between them, on top of those conditionals.

    A lot of unnecessary complication, when it's simpler (and still not exactly "simple") to stick with a standard power input.  Of course Apple chooses the third option which is worse in all regards.
    I think you meant to say, Apple decided to delight the end user by investing the time to design a third way that allowed them keep the form factor they wanted to deliver to market and avoid the need for an external power supply (and the significant nuisance that involves). 

    As other (reasonable) comments on this thread have pointed out a) no one ever replaces their power cord except in the extremely rare case of damage and b) it IS replaceable in the case of damage. 

    Crazy how people can turn a positive (thin design without an external brick) into a highly contrived negative (I can’t swap out my power cord as easily as I do with other devices—that I never change the cord on). 

    Also that standard design isn’t all that great. I have external hard drive enclosures that use the standard replaceable cord, and the that cord isn’t as securely attached as I’d like. I would prefer a “very hard to removed but still removable in a pinch” design like Apple has implemented here. The best of both worlds would be if Apple contributes this design as a formal standard so third parties can use it. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 19
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,363member
    crowley said:
    In a world where sustainability is a factor, this feels like a design failure, although I obviously understand a cluncy ‘default’ connector isn’t an option. 
    Making this non-removable is terrible in professional settings demanding unique setups, and requiring Apple to fix issues with a tool like that feels completely backwards.

    I’m not an expert, but why couldn’t this be powered USB-C?
    It probably could be, but that seems to be a recipe for confusion.  Imagine the I/O, one USB-C input for power, another (thunderbolt) USB-C input from computer, and three USB-C outputs to connected devices.  Then the device would have to manage whether it's drawing power from the power input, or the computer input, and if it's the power input then it maybe pushes power the other way into the computer.  Plus it potentially needs to power three additional connected devices, so needs to manage power between them, on top of those conditionals.

    A lot of unnecessary complication, when it's simpler (and still not exactly "simple") to stick with a standard power input.  Of course Apple chooses the third option which is worse in all regards.
    I think you meant to say, Apple decided to delight the end user by investing the time to design a third way that allowed them keep the form factor they wanted to deliver to market and avoid the need for an external power supply (and the significant nuisance that involves). 
    Nope, I very much did not mean to say that.

    If anything, Apple invented a fourth way, as they already have the magnetic connector from the iMac that could probably have been adapted for this display.  That thing is bad too, but creating another proprietary cable, and this one being non-removable is just utter mindless garbage.

    Anything without a removable power cable is garbage, no thank you.
    edited March 22 beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 18 of 19
    I actually chuckled when I realised that the power cable is actually an attempt at solving an unnecessary issue. Apple has some of the hardest working design teams in the business, and this is what they came up with?
    There's already a stand and cable hanging off the back, and existing cable solutions for them to work with. They could have revolutionised power bricks, patented a new method, gotten creative like you expect from them. Instead, they've installed what is by far the worst power cable solution I've seen in 20 years, and they invested manpower in developing it for this one display.
    I'd much rather have a USB C connecting it, nice and neat, with a separate power source for charging things. Which I already have, as do most people.
  • Reply 19 of 19
    ApplePoorApplePoor Posts: 167member
    Anyone know how long this monitor's power cord is? With two vintage 27" Apple monitors currently up on VESA mounts, the right one uses most of the six foot cord to the UPS.
    watto_cobra
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