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Apple could have a MagSafe-like way to solve the Studio Display’s most annoying feature

Studio Display on wooden desk
(Image credit: Future)
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Apple might just have a plan to make it much easier and more convenient to attach a monitor panel to a stand, and indeed switch a panel between different stands in a manner that could have obvious benefits, as highlighted by some recent controversy over the freshly launched Studio Display (we’ll come back to that later).

This idea is presented in a patent filed by Apple (at the US Patent and Trademark Office (opens in new tab)) which describes a “display device and display stand assembly that can help render use of the stand intuitive, secure, and robust”, with the mechanism in question facilitating this using magnets.

In the patent, Apple describes the normal clunky way of trying to mount a monitor panel to a stand, which can be somewhat fiddly and perhaps difficult to do (using a screw mount, or spring latch, or similar mechanism).

The fresh concept is to have magnets in the top of the monitor stand, and also inside the housing in the panel where the stand slots in, so as to allow the user to easily mount the display, without having to look around the back of the monitor while doing so. All the user would need to do is place the panel near the stand, in roughly the right area, and the magnets would then kick in to guide the final docking process.

Once the panel slots itself in via the magnets, a “set of retractable latches” on the mount would apply themselves to ensure a stronger (physical) connection between the panel and stand. As a purely magnetic connection has obvious dangers in terms of the panel getting accidentally knocked by the user, and perhaps becoming detached. The screen coming crashing down on your keyboard and mouse is, of course, something you very much want to avoid.

Apple also notes that there would be some manner of warning system in place, whereby the hardware could detect if the panel is improperly mounted, and alert the user while advising them to reseat it.


Analysis: A bright idea, and one that could fit Apple’s Studio Display

The overall idea, then, is to facilitate an easy and convenient connection between monitor panel and stand, while keeping that connection secure enough so there’s no danger of the panel coming off the mount. And the advantages of this system are made particularly obvious when you consider Apple’s new Studio Display.

As you may have seen, the Studio Display has a big catch when it comes to its monitor stand, namely that whatever choice you select at the time of purchase – the basic stand, height adjustable stand, or VESA wall-mount – you can’t swap this out later. So, if you get the simple vanilla stand, but later want to mount the Studio Display on a monitor arm, you can’t simply switch in the VESA option; you’re just out of luck.

If the Studio Display offered some kind of magnetic mounting system like the one described above, it would be a simple matter to remove the panel from a stand and put it on an arm in this way.

Just because Apple patents an idea doesn’t mean it will end up in a final product, of course; many times, patents are filed and nothing comes of them. However, in this case, it seems quite fitting as a slick-sounding solution for something like a future Studio Display, and its presence in a high-end piece of hardware like this would make sense in terms of it being a potentially costly system to implement.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).