Guess how many times Apple mentioned the term 8K when it launched its most powerful mobile workstation, the MacBook Pro, in October 2021? Not three, five or even ten, but eleven times in all.
The era of 4K post-production seems to be merely a stepping stone to something bigger in Apple’s eyes. And it is therefore disappointing that one of the most exciting MacBook Pro accessories around lacks the ability to run at 8K resolution over HDMI.
Targus’ Hyper Triple 4K display dock for MacBook Pro launched only a few days ago, but has already smashed its goal on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. More than 2,100 backers have poured about $360,000 into the project so far.
Two versions are available: a 13-to-14inch model (HD134) for $124 and a 13-to-16inch model (HD136) for $149, both with a 50% Early Bird discount that’s likely to end within 24 hours.
A missed opportunity?
What makes this USB-C adaptor special is its ability to grow by snapping on a magnetic hub for compatible MacBook Pro devices. Fully loaded, it can drive three 4K monitors (it has three HDMI and three DP connectors, but you can only use half of them). There’s also three USB Type-C connectors (one with 100W power delivery), three USB Type-A ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port and two card readers. Sadly, no Thunderbolt ports, of any ilk.
While it doesn’t require any drivers, you still need to attach not one but three USB Type-C cables to it. We haven’t tested the MacBook Pro with an 8K monitor or 8K television, but the fact the slowest of the 2021 MacBook Pros can drive two Pro Display XDR professional monitors (each with just over 20.3 million pixels) puts that scenario in the “very likely” category.
The problem is not that the dock doesn’t support 8K, it does. But it doesn’t support 8K on the right port (i.e. HDMI). Right now, there’s only one viable 8K monitor on the market, the Dell Ultrasharp UP3218K, which is only compatible with DisplayPort.
On the other hand, there’s at least dozen 8K televisions, with a couple of them good enough to be used as secondary productivity displays. The problem is that they have HDMI 2.1 ports, not DisplayPort, and the newly-reintroduced HDMI port on the new MacBook Pro only supports HDMI 2.0.
One way of circumventing the problem would be to use a bundled (but not built-in) converter that transforms the video signal from DisplayPort to HDMI. But that might prove difficult.
Instead, we just hope there will be more 8K monitors with HDMI and DisplayPort launched in 2022. And given that the Pro Display XDR is turning three next year, we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple gives it a refresh with an 8K model for the 2022 iteration.
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