The Experience

I’ve been using a 30-inch for nearly as long as they’ve been around in the consumer market. And I went the multi-monitor route before then. I find that I’ve got enough windows open that need interacting with to fill up a single 2560-pixel wide desktop pretty well, but move to two smaller panels and my desktop usage just isn’t as efficient. I end up having one monitor that’s largely unused except for a couple of applications and another monitor that feels way too cramped. Balancing between the two just never worked well for me, so a single high resolution display made the most sense.

The problem with the 30 is that it’s just huge. It’s got an awesome resolution but I find that it’s more of a pain while gaming, particularly in first person shooters. I end up sitting too close and the display is almost too big.

Moving to the 27-inch panel I noticed several things. The display is much more compact. It doesn’t feel too small, and it doesn’t feel too big. Dare I say it’s just right. The change in aspect ratio is strange but not a deal breaker. Admittedly I wasn’t doing too much with the extra 140 lines of resolution I had on the 30” display.

The display feels a bit sharper than my old 30. The pixel density has gone up 8% from ~101 PPI to ~109 PPI. If you felt text was too small on a 30-inch panel, things aren’t going to get any better here. As a side effect of the display physically being smaller, I can actually sit closer to it than I could with the 30-incher without feeling like I’m being totally overwhelmed by panel.

Viewing angles are great. The IPS panel works its magic as well as you’d expect.

The backlight honestly takes the most getting used to. My 30-inch display is the original Apple Cinema HD display from 2004 and it used a CCFL backlight. The white LED backlit 27-inch panel just seems too cool, even when properly calibrated. The whites are very bright, but they feel a bit too harsh for me. If I dim the display then the rest of the colors get too dim as a result, I can’t seem to find a happy medium. I hear the situation is near perfect with RGB LEDs but Apple and most other manufacturers still use WLEDs for their backlights. You’ll see the impact this has on color gamut later on in the review. I spend most of my time in front of a CCFL backlit screen, but if you’re used to something LED backlit it’ll be a less of a shock.

I feel like there are two significant features missing that ultimately prevent this from being a truly great monitor: a RGB LED backlight and 120Hz support. The former makes the shift from a CCFL backlit LCD more of a tradeoff. The latter is just wishful thinking at this point honestly, but after Brian’s experience with the ASUS 120Hz panel I want it.

The rest of the package works relatively well. I’m happy with the webcam image quality and the integrated mic seems to work well. I love the convenience of the integrated MagSafe power connector and mini DisplayPort is a nicely compact interface, unfortunately these two features only matter if you happen to have a notebook that can take advantage of them.

The New Cinema Display Color Quality


View All Comments

  • andy o - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Just in case, I'm talking as opposed to 16:10 ratio. That's wide enough. The 2560x1600 resolution stays barely alive with the 30" screens as you say, but the 1920x1200 and especially the 1680x1050 resolutions are all but dead already.

    If I wanted another laptop like the one I have with a 1680x1050 res on a 15" or so screen, can I get that anymore? The closest I've seen is 1600x900 which already seems too low.
  • fabarati - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Anand was getting jigyy with it!

    Also, not only is the resolutiion 90% of 2560x1600, the size is also 90% of the 30".
  • ytoledano1 - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    27" is 81% of 30", when comparing areas, you need to square the ratio.

    A pixel pitch of 0.25 for 2560x1600 @ 30" is already tiny, with 0.23 for 2560x1440 @ 27" I'll probably have to use bigger fonts everywhere and still have problems with some applications.
  • ijhammo - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    erm 27" is referring to diagonal length, so the 27" screen diagonal is 90% of the 30" screen diagonal. Also, pixel count is 90% too. Reply
  • chris1317 - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    16:9 is really the worst aspect ratio I have used on a computer screen. Although the difference does not seem much on paper when you actually use one you can see what a backwards step it is. I think I will stick with my 1920x1200 display for now until the manufacturers see some sense and supply what im after. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Dell already does the perfect monitors, you just have to be able to afford them.

    Way better than this Apple offering..
  • IceDread - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Actually, I prefer HP monitors above dell. Dell may have more options but the color on dell aint good. It is common that it's way to dark on the right side when you have a white background.

    The game mode is green/ blueish so you are stuck with high input lag in games if you want decent colours.

    So I actually prefer HP in this case.
  • YouGotServed - Friday, October 1, 2010 - link

    You sir, are speaking out of your butt. Please get facts straight before speaking.

    This is the pinnacle of Dell monitors. If you can find a comparable HP display, I will be impressed.
  • IceDread - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    I agree. A 27" 16:9 is like a 24" 16:10. The loss of height is very annoying.

    I think it's a sales trick. They write 27" and think they can charge you more for it.
  • jasperjones - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Seems the U2711, which received an Gold Editor's choice award from AT, is still the way to go for anyone except hardcore Apple fanbois. Reply

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