Dell U3818DW – 38” Ultrawide Monitor Paired with MacBook Pro

I recently jumped into the world of ultra big, and ultra wide monitors! Here is what happened..

Monitor information
Size: 38 Inch Ultrawide Curved Display
Resolution: 3840×1600
Connection: USB-C

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 7.23.04 PM

Laptop Information
Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 7.24.37 PM

First a couple general observations

  • The box that it came in is huge! No, seriously, its HUGE!
  • The USB-C cable that comes with the 2016/2017 MacBook Pro is “Charge Only” and cant be used with this monitor.
  • I haven’t used an ultra-wide monitor prior to this, and it does take some getting used to.

Let’s start with the great things!

  • This resolution is crazy! I was somewhat worried about the PPI since I was coming from the Retina MBP screen, but this monitor looks great.
  • I have never liked two monitors side by side because of the disgusting bezel split in the middle. This monitor fixes everything wrong with that setup.
  • Because it has a 21:9 aspect ratio, if you ware watching movies of similar aspect ratio, it’s awesome to see them fit so perfectly
  • Overall, it’s an absolutely beautiful monitor.

Ok, now onto the not so great things.. (Issues)

  • The monitor does have speakers built in that are simply ‘ok’. Audio will play through the monitor, but you cannot control volume using macOS volume controls.
  • Brightness cannot be controlled from macOS controls. Also, Night Shift is not compatible with this monitor.
  • Not really the monitor’s fault completely, but transitioning between ‘clamshell mode’ and laptop mode still sucks.
  • The Everything falls asleep unless amphetamine is running.
  • Only has one USB-C connection.
  • Because your MacBook Pro is closed, you can’t use the TouchBar. Bummer!
  • You also can’t use TouchID. Mega bummer!
  • Not sure why but, Final Cut Pro X refused to run while connected to this monitor.
  • The monitor does not have an integrated webcam (I knew it didn’t when I purchased it), but something to be aware of if you need video capabilities.

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 7.24.24 PM

I think a lot of the control issues that I am seeing are due to macOS seeing this display as a ‘TV’ rather than a monitor.

Final Verdict
I really like this monitor! But.. given the issues, I am going to return it.🙁 Going to wait until there is a giant ultra wide that is more compatible with macOS.

I have to imagine connecting this to a Windows computer would be a much better experience since there are specific Windows drivers for this monitor.



MacBook Pro Discharging Under Heavy Load?

I was recently doing a good bit of work in Final Cut Pro on my MacBook Pro (with TouchBar) and the system was running on all cores. The weird part was that my battery was slowly discharging while plugged in.. How the heck?

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 1.19.16 PM

I am using the Apple 87W Charger and Apple USB-C power cable, so not an issue with third party power products.

Because this seemed like a MAJOR issue since it’s a “Pro” machine, I wanted to see if I could figure out what was going on.

After a little bit of investigation, I think I know what is going on! (at least in my scenario)

When looking at the System Information, I noticed that it said I was only getting 55W. Why would this be? Well, it turns out to be the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter I believe.

MJ1K2

Charging MacBook Pro through the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter:

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 1.26.25 PM

Charging connected directly to MacBook Pro:

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 1.40.00 PM
So, for whatever reason, the adapter does not allow the full 87W through and knocks it down to 55W, and a MacBook Pro running at 100% uses more than the 55W provided. Kind of a bummer, but not the end of the world by any means.

Is this happening to you? Do I have a defective adapter?

UPDATES 2017-04-03
1. A few questions/answers on the apple.com shop pages talking about this adapter only providing 55W. This looks to be true for the VGA version as well. Furthermore this would most likely be the same issue if you use one of the new LG UltraFine 4K or LG UltraFine 5K displays as they only provide 60W for charging.

2. A friend of mine also contacted me and let me know that this adapter does indeed only provide 55W of power to pass through.

Problem: Live Stream Three Inputs

FOREWARD

Recently I had a problem come up that needed to be solved with a hardware & software solution.
Heads Up Warning: This happened to be a work problem, so I will intentionally be somewhat vague about the content. This may make some of the choices seem weird, but at the end of the day, trust me, it worked for the particular need.

PROBLEM

There are three independent video sources that exist in a room. Each of these video sources is a different combination of signal type and resolution (fortunately they are all digital signals). The three video sources need to be composited together into a single feed that can then be streamed live to an undetermined amount of users spread across the globe (10 years ago that would have been scary and really costly, but in 2016, not so much, thankfully). There are a number of different ways this can be accomplished depending on budget, system complexity, and system footprint. I went in with a moderate budget in mind, and a footprint of a single Pelican Case for transport. I wasn’t too concerned about complexity since I would be the only person operating the system; it just needed to be repeatable.

DIGITAL VIDEO SIGNALS
– VIDEO SIGNAL 1: 1920x1080p@60 via HDMI
– VIDEO SIGNAL 2: 1920x1080i@30 via HDMI
– VIDEO SIGNAL 3: 1680×1050@60 via DVI

SOLUTION

Ok, so here is what I did! First let’s talk about hardware and how I connected it all.

HARDWARE
– 15″ MacBook Pro (2016 – Max Specs): Serves as the hub of the entire setup. This system has 4 ports for I/O and I used them all! (2) USB 3.0 Ports and (2) Thunderbolt Ports.
UltraStudio Mini Recorder: Captures ‘1920x1080p@60’ video signal from HDMI and feeds into MacBook pro via Thunderbolt.
UltraStudio Mini Recorder: Captures ‘1920x1080i@30’ video signal from HDMI and feeds into MacBook pro via Thunderbolt.
AV.io HD: Captures ‘1680×1050@60’ video signal from DVI and feeds into MacBook pro via USB 3.0.
– USB to Ethernet adapter. All network traffic is going over ethernet to ensure maximum throughput for stream output.
– GoPro Type Camera: This camera is for capturing a general ‘room feed’. It is a very small battery operated camera which means I can put it almost anywhere without being intrusive to the people it is recording. Nice wide angle to really get the whole room.
Pocket Cinema Camera w/ lens: This allows me to capture screen feeds of lower resolution equipment without needing a scaler with every conceivable input and output. Set everything up correctly and you would never know it’s a camera pointed at a screen. Since I never know what sources I will be up against in a given environment, this is a foolproof way to ensure I can get the feed.

Streaming Hardware Configuration Diagram
Streaming Hardware Configuration Diagram

SOFTWARE
– For the actual distribution of the stream, I am using http://Ustream.tv. There are an almost limitless number of streaming services available today, and there may be one more appropriate for me, but Ustream offered exactly what I needed for a reasonable price, and most importantly allowed me to lock down the stream with a password so I can manage who is viewing. (Yes that is not super secure, but for this purpose it was good enough)
– In order to effectively composite 3 feeds into a single feed, I needed some kind of software component. Since the events that would be streaming were live, it made sense to have the ability for ‘live event extras’ like switching, lower thirds, and title cards. I decided to go with Wirecast from Telestream. (When I was testing this whole solution out, it was on version 6. This worked ok, but was hitting the CPU really hard and the system ran at about 75% utilized consistently. Good news is that Wirecast is now on version 7, and enables the use of the GPU so CPU load is WAY LESS!)

Viewer Interface Mockup
Viewer Interface Mockup

There you have it, live streaming 3 video feeds It was a fun exercise and the result was really great! As always, I hope this was in some way helpful for someone out there looking to do something similar. Feel free to reach out with any questions!