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


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  • Hln98 - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Does the system fonts on this appear too small like the iMac 27 inch? I have the Apple 24 inch LED now and love it since I can see the font. I want to get the new 27 inch but if it's like the iMac 27 inch, I will pass.

    Please confirm.
  • Ogopogo - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    I guess the Apple premium (perhaps excepting accessories) has really gone away over the years. Now all the major manufacturers have the same business model - a little distinctive design then outsource to Asia - so prices come back a wash. I remember when Apple wanted $1-2k more for their 30" monitor than anyone else. Now this comes in cheaper than the Dell U2711. Reply
  • Juddog - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    I don't understand why the manufacturers are pushing for such high density displays - for me, 1920 x 1200 at 27 inches is the ideal resolution. Mostly because of font sizes and such, 2560 x 1440 just makes things seem too dang small.

    I don't known if it's a factor of getting old, but most people I work with seem to think the same.
  • Spivonious - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    It's because things just look better at a higher DPI. If the fonts are too small, change the font size. Windows 7 has great support for this. My old 17" CRT (I'm too picky to use a TN panel LCD, and too cheap to spend $1000 on a nice IPS LCD) is 130dpi and things just look so much clearer when I run Windows at 125% font size. The number of apps that don't recognize the setting is much smaller than it used to be. Pretty much all apps that were released in the past 5 years support high DPI.

    I can actually see large differences at 12pt between fonts like Arial, Cambria, and Verdana, where on 96dpi they were very slightly different.
  • DanaG - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - link

    I have a high-dpi display, and can't use any desktops, because they all have crap DPI.

    <link removed because the damn comment system thinks this comment is spam>
    Anyway, it was "rant-hdtv-has-ruined-the-lcd-display-market-or-i-want-my-pixels-and-dpi-now"

    See my comment near the bottom.

    "This comment is apparently spam and we do not allow spam comments."

    What the hell, Anandtech? What sort of garbage do I have to put in my post to get it to not count as "spam"? How about more random words? Damnit...
  • n0x1ous - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    I wish someone would make a 30 inch 2560 x 1600 TN so I could actually afford one. Im surprised Asus or Alienware or one of those doesn't get with some OEM and make a $500 30 inch TN for us gamers who don't need all the perfect viewing angles/colors etc......

    I am ready for more rez (currently on 19x12) but just can't stomach the 10 benjamins to get to 25x16
  • Tros - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    I disagree, strongly.

    Your display is just as important as what video card you have driving it, simply because if you're in dark corridors, and the viewing angle makes more of a difference than the video card, then the rendered picture is worthless. Likewise, vibrant colors tend to get a faster response from the brain than colors that are washed out and leave the image ambiguous without looking at it for a few seconds.

    I've got two solutions:
    1) Go with a projector. Variable screen size, plus a low resolution to keep frames high.
    2) Stick with the stuff in your price range.

    It's this kind of demand that gets us huge, high resolution screens, with images worse than current solutions.

    I'm disappointed with this offering from Apple, because it really is all-glitz and not much substance. As a consumer, I expect to pay a price and get a superior product. And I acknowledge that the price is ridiculous, but at least I don't have to play the "mixed bag" game. I am not wow'ed by the ability to pay a lower price and get something "like good". That's not Apple-like at all.
  • TegiriNenashi - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Second it. The price of 30" has been frozen at ~$1200 level for what, 3 years already? Those who claim that the cost of IPS panel is high, should look no further than LCD TVs, which prices steadily declined in all size categories. Today one can buy two good-enough 46" TVs (they are IPS!) for a price of one 30" monitor. Reply
  • BZDTemp - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    It's harder to make more pixels perfect so some of the cost is found there but it's also a question of to little a market so that mass production effects are limited.

    To many people are simply content with what they got and the majority looks at screen size vs. prices and then get the terrible TN panels. It's like in the old days with CRT's where most people ran them at 60 Hz because that was Windows default not knowing good screens could do so much better.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Disagree. TN technology starts to really hit limitations at around 24", when you get bigger than that you start to lose uniformity and the sweet spot for viewing gets that much harder to find. A 30" TN panel would look awful. Reply

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