Color Quality

We report two main quality metrics in our display reviews: color accuracy (Delta-E) and color gamut. Color gamut refers to the range of colors the display is able to represent with respect to some color space. In this case, our reference is the AdobeRGB 1998 color space, which is larger than the sRGB color space. So our percentages are reported with respect to this number, and larger is generally better.

Color accuracy (Delta E) refers to the display’s ability to display the correct color requested by the GPU and OS. The difference between the color represented by the display, and the color requested by the GPU is our Delta-E, and lower is better here. In practice, a Delta E under 1.0 is perfect - the chromatic sensitivity of the human eye is not great enough to distinguish a difference. Moving up, a Delta E of 2.0 or less is generally considered fit for use in a professional imaging environment - it isn’t perfect, but it’s hard to gauge the difference. Finally, Delta E of 4.0 and above is considered visible with the human eye. Of course, the big consideration here is frame of reference; unless you have another monitor or some print samples (color checker card) to compare your display with, you probably won’t notice. That is, until you print or view media on another monitor. Then the difference will no doubt be apparent.

As I mentioned in our earlier reviews, we’ve updated our display test bench. We’ve deprecated the Monaco Optix XR Pro colorimeter in favor of an Xrite i1D2 since there are no longer up-to-date drivers for modern platforms.

For these tests, we calibrate the display and try to obtain the best Delta-E we can get at both 200 nits of brightness for normal use, and 100 nits for print brightness. We target 6500K and a gamma of 2.2, but sometimes the best performance lies at native temperature and another gamma, so we try to find what the absolute best performance could be. We also take an uncalibrated measurement to show performance out of the box using either the manufacturer supplied color profile, or a generic one with no LUT data. For all of these, dynamic contrast is disabled.

Color Tracking - XR Pro and Xrite i1D2

Uncalibrated the display's color accuracy isn't very good. I found the 27-inch LED Cinema Display to be way too blue and green out of the box, calibrated the display did much better:

Color Tracking - XR Pro and Xrite i1D2

The 27-inch LED Cinema Display isn't going to be winning any awards for color reproduction but it's good enough when calibrated.

Color Tracking - XR Pro and Xrite i1D2

Curiously enough, dropping brightness down to 100 nits caused a noticeable reduction in color tracking. The average delta E went up to 2.2 while most of the 27's competitors remained about the same. The 27-inch behaves very differently depending on what brightness setting you have it on.

LCD Color Quality

Apple managed to do relatively well with the WLED backlight but it's still no match for the color gamut you get from any of the CCFL backlit displays. Note that my old 30 hasn't aged well, it's only able to cover roughly 73% today.

The Experience Color Uniformity
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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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