In February 2013, I published an open letter to Apple called: Why does the Mac still deal with connected HDTV monitors haphazardly? Today, nearly 7 years later, Apple has partially responded to my letter in a positive way with the brand-new MacBook Pro 16”. This new MacBook model makes history by offering published refresh rates of ≈47.95Hz, 48.00Hz, 50.00Hz, ≈59.94Hz and 60.00Hz. Even though I prefer to express the first one as ≈47.952 (the exact 2x of ≈23.976), that’s just nomenclature. The point is that (at 2x) they perfectly match the most popular production framerates of ≈23.976, 24.000, 25 and ≈29.97. I am thrilled to see this, both for direct connection to appropriate DreamColor monitors, multi standard HDTV sets or Apple’s new Pro Display XDR 6K display. This also answers question one from Apple Pro Display XDR 6K: the questions I asked Apple. Now, let’s analyze the situation, clarify the importance of non-integer framerates for newbies and cover the improved keyboard mechanism.
Links to the aforementioned articles
- Why does the Mac still deal with connected HDTV monitors haphazardly? from February 2013 (illustrated above)
- Apple Pro Display XDR 6K: the questions I asked Apple (from August 2019)
Which Macs will offer non-integer framerates?
So far, we know that the following two models do:
- Even though the new (shown above, yet to be delivered) cheese grater Mac Pro 2019 still declines to mention refresh rates at all in its published specs as of publication time of this article, it’s fair to assume that it too will will support non-integer framerates, since it was announced together with the new Pro Display XDR 6K display (whose specs also indicate the same rates).
- The new MacBook Pro 16” announced today.
That’s all the models I’ve found for now. However, it is possible that some other models also offer them (at least with macOS Catalina 10.15) and that Apple has simply not yet updated its website to indicate it. I am still using Mojave 10.14.6 in my machine, until all of my key apps and plugins are certified for Catalina.
Why should I care about non-integer framerates?
If you are new to this and haven’t read my many articles about this topic since 2008 here in ProVideo Coalition magazine, here’s an executive summary:
- It’s important to monitor (visualize) video at the intended cadence of a project framerate, or 2X that framerate if it’s 30 or lower. Why 2X? Due to the way the human brain and persistence of vision, we can’t tolerate the flicker at viewed framerates lower than ≈47.952 fps. That’s why, even though theatrical films are generally produced at 24 fps, we always view them in theaters with each frame repeated via a special repeating shutter in the projector, so we actually see the equivalent of 48 fps, even though they are pairs of the original 24.
- Despite a common myth that states that NTSC and ex-NTSC regions use 30 fps (frames per second), the reality has not been the case since 1953, when the US inserted color on top of the original monochrome television system. Since then, it has been ≈29.97 frames (or ≈59.94 fields, or even ≈59.94 frames with 720p stations). On the other hand, PAL and ex PAL countries have used 25/50.
- Before adding this non-integer framerate capability, macOS video editors who had non-integer projects who owned and desired to connect a multi standard HDTV set, DreamColor or other high-end evaluation display were forced to purchase an interface from a company like AJA, Blackmagic, Matrox. Those interfaces exist both as PCI (PCIe) cards as well as boxes which have their own video clock, independent of the computer’s video clock.
Fixes keyboard issues
To solve keyboard issues with the unreliable butterfly design, Apple has thankfully returned to scissor mechanism and 1mm travel “for a more satisfying key feel”.
Availability and pricing
Starting at US$2399, the 16-inch MacBook Pro can be ordered today (B&H link). If you want to order in the US with an internal Spanish ISO keyboard, order it from Apple.com and select “Spanish” when configuring yours, built-to order.
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