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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  • Valleyvalley - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    I really don't understand why all the so-called professionally keep bashing glossy screens. I mistakenly bought a matte screen after reading such reviews and it is horrible. Because the black level is not great, and because the coating is not smooth, reading text is painful. I have to make the font size much larger than normal to be able to read clearly and smoothly, which essentially doesn't take advantage of the high resolution much. As a result I am returning it. If you go to the review section on Amazon about Dell U2711 you'll see similar complains. After this experience, I decide to go with the market choice instead of listening to any of the so-called professionals and I would never touch a matte screen again, althought I will not necessarily buy the Apple LED. Professionals would like to think that because they learned such and such, they can somehow tell people what looks better. However, in reality that is totally rubbish and it is still up to the consumers to decide what looks better and what products will succeed. Professionals also would like to think they are smart and people are idiots easily swayed by marketing strategies, and they are so enthusiastic to convince people something like "what looks better in your eyes". I would say marketing clearly playes a role but in the end most people are not idiots and they know what they are seeing and can compare the effects using their eyes.

    Glossy is not a joke. It has clear advantage of black and white levels, more vibrant colors, and there are even comparisons online of glossy and matte screens under sunlight, with the glossy screen reflective but still visible and vibrant, but the matte screen totally washed out. It is more of a debate and personal preference. If you google "glossy vs matte" you'll find that it is not so one-sided. There are many people who don't know what glossy is and what matte is and they just believe in their eyes, and there is nothing wrong with it and they are not idiots. At the end of the day it is what matters, right? How can you win people's eyes. Those numbers of color, constrast, etc. are meaningless to most people. A picture is worth a thousand words. People can use their own eyes to make a choice. Don't be too self-confident in telling people what to do. It is really not Apple who doesn't listen to its customers because Apple is a product, and needs to win customers and it is doing pretty well so far. It is the so-called professionals who simply don't like to change and they don't, and simply have no need to listen to Apple's customers because they don't make any products and they just like to do stuff the good old ways.
    Reply
  • kenpmason - Thursday, May 12, 2011 - link

    Your comments regarding matt vs glossy screens ignore a critical spec--dot pitch. The Dell U2711, which I've been using for a year now, has what I believe to be the smallest dot pitch available on the market today, 0.233. Most other screens have 0.250-0.300-- in other words, coarser. If you take a given rez and spread it over more real estate, then the dot pitch has to increase.

    People who "believe in their eyes" also tend to gravitate to screens with overly vivid (or lurid) colours. This can easily be seen when comparing low-end HDTVs to high-end ones. Similarly, glossy screens are more impressive at first glance, but over time they wear out their welcome.

    Please comment!
    Reply
  • richardbalboa - Monday, October 4, 2010 - link

    In 35 years on this planet I cannot once remember ever going to the cinema to watch a film on a glossy screen. Reply
  • datajerk - Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - link

    Any chance you'll post your tuned display profile? Reply
  • Valleyvalley - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    I really don't understand why all the so-called professionally keep bashing glossy screens. I mistakenly bought a matte screen after reading such reviews and it is horrible. Because the black level is not great, and because the coating is not smooth, reading text is painful. I have to make the font size much larger than normal to be able to read clearly and smoothly, which essentially doesn't take advantage of the high resolution much. As a result I am returning it. If you go to the review section on Amazon about Dell U2711 you'll see similar complains. After this experience, I decide to go with the market choice instead of listening to any of the so-called professionals and I would never touch a matte screen again, althought I will not necessarily buy the Apple LED. Professionals would like to think that because they learned such and such, they can somehow tell people what looks better. However, in reality that is totally rubbish and it is still up to the consumers to decide what looks better and what products will succeed. Professionals also would like to think they are smart and people are idiots easily swayed by marketing strategies, and they are so enthusiastic to convince people something like "what looks better in your eyes". I would say marketing clearly playes a role but in the end most people are not idiots and they know what they are seeing and can compare the effects using their eyes.

    Glossy is not a joke. It has clear advantage of black and white levels, more vibrant colors, and there are even comparisons online of glossy and matte screens under sunlight, with the glossy screen reflective but still visible and vibrant, but the matte screen totally washed out. It is more of a debate and personal preference. If you google "glossy vs matte" you'll find that it is not so one-sided. There are many people who don't know what glossy is and what matte is and they just believe in their eyes, and there is nothing wrong with it and they are not idiots. At the end of the day it is what matters, right? How can you win people's eyes. Those numbers of color, constrast, etc. are meaningless to most people. A picture is worth a thousand words. People can use their own eyes to make a choice. Don't be too self-confident in telling people what to do. It is really not Apple who doesn't listen to its customers because Apple is a product, and needs to win customers and it is doing pretty well so far. It is the so-called professionals who simply don't like to change and they don't, and simply have no need to listen to Apple's customers because they don't make any products and they just like to do stuff the good old ways.
    Reply
  • Valleyvalley - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    These comments are not for the author of this review. I think the author did a good jobs and provided little opinion of his own, which is a good thing. These comments are mainly for the previous comments.

    My suggestion: if you care reading text online, etc. a lot, double check the Dell U2711 or any other matte screens before buying, though I know that is difficult as DELL doesn't have physical stores like Apple. From my personal experience, reading text is a lot easier on a glossy screen and that is very important to me, much more important than being a little reflective or 16:9 and such and such.
    Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    I'm not calling myself a professional nor am I one to jump on the bandwagon, while I don't despise glossy screens as some do I prefer matt screens and can see why reviewers prefer matt screens as well.

    There's no doubt a glossy screen has a 'wow' factor that a matt screen doesn't which in turn is no doubt responsible for the popularity of glossy screens. However I find that works against it for image or video work as the image looks a bit 'fake', it's not unlike a P&S camera with boosted contrast and saturation. Again it makes the DSLR netural image look flat but the DSLR image is more accurate and better to work with.

    For text I don't have any problems reading a matt screen, I find the opposite as there's no worrying about getting the angles right to ensure there's no distracting light reflecting off the screen and getting in the way.

    I do have the Dell U2711 and think it's a superb monitor, it's always my first choice to work with when possible. I also have the Studio XPS 16 with the RGB backlit monitor which is also extremely good but it's difficult to ignore the irritating reflections from it's side to side glossy panel.

    John
    Reply
  • Valleyvalley - Monday, December 6, 2010 - link

    No. Matte is not more accurate. It is only slightly more accurate to a photographer's taste because it somewhat mimics the uneven and un-smooth surface of a printed picture. For the majority of people who don't even print out their pictures that often and just watch them on a monitor, share them online, etc., Matte==FAIL! It just looks worse. Reply
  • Valleyvalley - Monday, December 6, 2010 - link

    And you enjoy reading the DELL text only because you didn't put it side by side with the Apple 27 inch LED with the same resolution. I bet anyone can tell it is less smooth than this Apple display. Reply
  • smartvmusa - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - link

    Hey, I am lover of Mac product. Its a nice information about 27" LCD Display.

    Thanks
    Smartvm
    Reply

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