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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  • 8steve8 - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    I strongly disagree,

    this is the cheapest display on the market with a resolution above 2048 x 1152

    this is the cheapest LED IPS display on the market of any size. (other than the defunct apple LED 24")

    being LED it uses in the neighborhood of half the power at the same brightness as its closest competitor (the dell u2711).

    frankly on these notes alone it'd only have to be somewhat competitive in display quality to be highly recommended... the apple design and webcam/light-sensor/charger is just a bonus.
  • 8steve8 - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    although yes, 16x9 is a fail for anything pretending to be a professional/workstation display. Reply
  • 8steve8 - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    (no edit button)
    ... but it's not only apple... everyone is doing 16:9, so can't really fault this display, you can fault the industry...

    i mean how many 16:10 LED displays are there? other than the XL30, i can't think of any....

    so while it woulda been nice, can't really blame this particular product...
  • ijhammo - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    Lol - erm, how about if you don't like the monitor don't buy one?? There are plenty of alternatives.

    I didn't get the same warm and fuzzy feeling you did from the article and they certainly didn't give this monitor the Editors Choice award that they gave the Dell U2711...

    I think the thing to bear in mind is the target market for this monitor. It is after all called a 'Cinema' display (so it's 16:9) and it is squarely aimed at typical Mac owners (boo hoo, brightness doesn't work on non macs under windows). If you look at the stats it might not beat all the competition but it still a good all rounder and certainly has Delta Es below 4 which the human can't detect.

    Lets be honest - all technology is a compromise between cost and performance. If you want the ultimate quality expect to pay the ultimate price.
  • v12v12 - Monday, October 11, 2010 - link

    PRAISE the voice of DISSENT! Finally... am I not the only person in here that doesn't get caught up by all the covert/deceptive/manipulative MARKETING that goes on at Anand? Don't get me wrong; I'm here EVERYDAY checking out the continually great, in-depth articles, BUT... Rumors and whispers of "Apple-fanboyism," continue to resurface, even after apparently being shouted down to Davy Jone's Locker... And here we have another one resurfacing, covered in fanboy barnacles!
    __It's almost like a Fox(entertainment)News hit piece of sorts; the lack of true comparisons, no pro & contrast, baseless facts and figures, but compared to WHAT? There's no real "review" going on here, it's merely meant to look like it; and who are these types of hit-pieces custom tailored to---why Apple’s own teeny-tiny cabal of “elite” consumers and their sponsors (tbh). For the rest of “us” out here, with logical as our guiding light; we can CLEARLY see right through all the smoke & mirror, fog and light shows being put on in this “review…”

    16:9 for $1000? Short cables for $1000? Here… let me explain; this is merely someone in Apple’s R&D dept who came up with the clever COST-CUTTING idea like, “hey boss, heh, heh…. If we cutesy up the cables with cheap silicone and monotone colors, this will visually and mentally confused the owners into thinking that anymore cable length is simply a waste, inefficient, and you know ‘bad’ for the environment; am I right? Heheh, heh, heh…” Yes you are---sniveling subordinate, said the bossman!

    Anyhow I completely agree; this monitor is nothing but a bone tossed to the ever expectant, shrude Apple fanboy. In reality, this monitor suits NEITHER the avid/enthusiast consumer, nor the PROFESSIONAL at all… What a wonderful example of market-saturation. This monitor literally serves NO PURPOSE other than to bait & switch idiots from their legal-tender… Anand, we love ya bossman, but come on, you’ve got to find better ways of giving your Apple fans (I own 2 Apple machines btw) the “elitism” fix they so desire, while also keeping Apple’s number in your little black-profit-book… Until then, those of use with sense and a SPINE, will continue to point it out for ya and the “elite,” until you remember that we’re ALWAYS watchin ;-)

    Ciao Anandtech staff! Lol

    _Funny, this piece got me thinking about just how did the “bite out of Apple’s-Apple” get started? My take; it all starts with a great idea… At 1st people show up to “Apple” with a big fat, WHOLE, juicy apple as their head… The boss, already a few bites into being at apple, sees these new fat-heads and thinks, “hrmm I’ve gotta put a stop to all this new ‘idea’ crap right now!” So he takes a “bite” outta yer Apple, and claims it for himself, BUT he too has a boss, who has a boss; they ALL want a bite of the Apple to claim as their own. Eventually up the line the biting goes until you reach THE BOSS; Jobbo-the-Hut! Being that he’s the last big Apple head and there’s nobody to take a bite from his Apple, he comes up with the brilliant idea of cutting a “bite” like shape out of his own Apple. Seeing this mysterious bite out of the head hancho’s head makes everyone feel that missing some chunks here and there is actually “cool,” and “better” since even the big-guy is missing some crucial cells as well… And thus the cycle of “elite, but lacking” becomes the status-Quo at “Apple.” THE END…*poof* (Copyrighted!)
  • gstrickler - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    As someone with fairly sensitive eyes, I've encountered many monitors that were too bright for me, especially when trying to use one in a less well lit environment. I had to give away a Dell monitor (to my father) because it was painful for me to use it with the room lights turned down. 200nits is uncomfortable to me in normal room lighting during the day, anything over 100 is uncomfortable at night. Many of the monitors on your list would be painful for me to use. Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    Not a good offering from Apple, I expected a lot better. The only thing positive about this monitor is the pixel size. Thanks for the article, now we know.

  • Kidster3001 - Friday, October 1, 2010 - link

    I've been using a 1st generation Apple Cinema 30" display for several years now on my Windows gaming PC. Using a 3rd party app called ACD (Apple Cinema Display) I can control the brightness and everything else.

    p.s. 16:9 is for movies. I would not want to go from 1600 vertical to 1440. It really is a huge factor in serious gaming.
  • MWG - Friday, October 1, 2010 - link

    I'm using a Sapphire Vapor-X HD 5870 with Windows 7 Home Premium.

    Key is to use Catalyst Control Center to control the brightness.

    'Graphics' > 'Desktops & Displays' > Configure Desktop > 'Properties' > 'Color' tab

    Purchased a Startech 6 in displayport to mini displayport adapter for $8.98

    Really happy with the monitor.
  • richardbalboa - Monday, October 4, 2010 - link

    Glossy only is a joke. At least give people the choice.
    DP port only is cutting corners IMO, and I have a 2010 MBP.
    Non adjustable stand on a £900 monitor is an insult. Maybe Apple will start selling adjustable desks soon.
    Cables a good idea but too short. The magsafe wouldnt look half as attractive if Apple didn't try to rob £70 each for them on their own.
    Tech specs clearly nowhere near a match for the u2711 and that has so much more built into it to justify its cost.

    Despite all this, if it was £600 or £700 I'd be tempted. But not at £900, forget it.

    Add this to the fact that Apple have now discontinued the 30" - their only other matte display and you can only drive that with the awfully flawed (and again, overpriced) Mini DP to dual dpi piece of junk from a MBP.

    Looks like Dell or NEC will be getting a large portion of my cash soon.

    Apple - start listening to your customers or you will lose them. I don't know what % of graphics people prefer matte displays but I'm willing to bet it is at least 50%. Get over the shiny stuff and leave that for the iPads and iPhones. GIVE PEOPLE THE CHOICE. Pros know what they want and no amount of your marketing glitter will convince them otherwise - they will simply just walk away from you.

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