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Apple's LED Cinema Display: the review

post #1 of 199
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Apple's first major update to the Cinema Display line brings a much greener design and a raft of welcome feature updates, especially for MacBook owners. At the same time, a partial shift away from Apple's mainstay professional crowd makes one wonder where the company is going and whether it hasn't lost focus.

A brief history of the Cinema Display

Despite being named after a movie theater, the Cinema Display was introduced in 1999 as a screen first and foremost for desktop-owning professionals; if you didn't have a Power Mac using the then-new DVI standard, you were effectively locked out of ownership. It resembled a painter's easel and had nothing but its video input for a connection, but its matte, undistorted, widescreen image was a boon for AV editors who needed both workspace and a more representative picture.

That all started to change in 2002, when the first DVI-equipped PowerBooks rolled out of Apple's factories. While the graphics hardware inside portable Macs was still somewhat anemic for a full dual-display setup to work well, it meant that PowerBook owners could buy a Cinema Display and use it as a desktop replacement. By late 2003, even the 12-inch PowerBook could make the pure digital connection to a Cinema Display -- albeit through a bundled dongle.

Combined with the front-facing ports of the Power Mac G5, these more advanced portables helped shape the first complete redesign of the Cinema Display introduced in June 2004. Aside from a thinner and more adjustable aluminum enclosure, which was ultimately a hint at the design of the iMac G5, its biggest additions were a pair each of FireWire 400 and USB ports that made it infinitely more useful for not just peripheral-laden desktop users but also PowerBook (and later MacBook) users who wanted a permanent hub for their peripherals. At the time, it was embraced as a strong example of Apple finally answering longstanding requests.

After that, however, Apple fell silent. Beyond a quiet panel update in late 2005 and periodic price cuts, the displays had largely remained the same and increasingly felt like relics (which the 20- and 30-inch displays still do, as of this writing). In the meantime, third-party displays became increasingly less expensive even at the high end, where quality has improved as well; while there have been arguments made in favor of Apple's approach to color management, even Mac users have been known to joke in recent years that you bought a Cinema Display only to coordinate the fashion of your monitor with your computer. In some respects, the 24-inch iMac has been more suited to visual editing thanks to a significantly more modern LCD.

November of this year finally brought some relief through the LED Cinema Display, though this is the first instance in which a significant update to an Apple display hasn't represented a complete remake of the entire form factor; as we'll soon see, though, most of the real changes are on the inside.




Design: evolution over revolution

By far the most obvious change is the black, glass-covered front, which is much bolder than it was in the past and clearly meant to give the impression of a seamless expanse rather than the conspicuous borders of the plastic and earlier aluminum models. It works and is useful for professionals who may previously have called out for black as a completely color-neutral backdrop for their work, but it has the unfortunate side effect of making the display slightly trickier to keep pristine; a careless grab at the edge is now likely to leave visible fingerprints, and dust is more conspicuous.

Most of the other visual touches are less noticeable but still pleasant to the eye. Although it's really just the same sort of trompe l'oeil that Apple has been using to give the appearance of a thinner design on virtually all of its 2008 products, the tapered back leads to a Cinema Display that no longer feels "fat" or simple in construction, especially with seamless edges that give the impression of a one-piece design.

This new shell is also more eco-friendly than in the past, as it scraps the plastic side fills of the sides and uses glass for the display cover. Apple also claims the screen is free of arsenic, brominated flame retardants, mercury, and polyvinyl chloride, though much of this is owed more to the LED backlighting than anything else.





Practically speaking, though, those who've had the opportunity to use the last-generation Cinema Display will feel right at home, for better or for worse. The "hanging" design isn't the most flexible and leaves portrait rotation and elevation out of Apple's display lineup. That said, we've never been especially uncomfortable with it in most conditions and still find benefits as well. It's easy to adjust the viewing angle or to turn the display (stand and all) to the right direction, and the space opened up beneath the screen is a convenient place to stow a keyboard or the debris that frequently accumulates during office work.

One caveat: in our experience, the MacBook's wireless reception strength dips significantly with the lid closed, so owners far enough away from their Wi-Fi base stations may see reduced speeds or occasional drops if conditions are sufficiently on the borderline.

Image quality and the gloss factor

Word has it that Apple isn't using the same LCD panel for the LED Cinema Display as in the 24-inch iMac, and we'd tend to agree; we've heard it may be a Samsung panel instead of the iMac's, which is virtually the same as for an NEC MultiSync display near-famous for its color accuracy.

Whatever the supplier may have done, the new stand-alone screen is still very close to the iMac in terms of day-to-day image quality. Colors still "pop," especially reds and blues; there's no noticeable grain, and viewing angles are still very wide (178 degrees from any direction) without producing the color inversion or washouts. Unlike the makers of some newer 24-inch displays that use cheap TN (twisted nematic) panels, Apple has chosen the higher road and is still using either PVA (patterned vertical alignment) or the top-end IPS (in-plane switching) for its display technology, both of which are much more comfortable and suited to color-sensitive editing. We're inclined to say IPS but will investigate further.

Significantly, Apple isn't using dynamic lighting to inflate its contrast ratio; that's unfortunate for gamers and movie viewers, but it's not as much of an issue for editors who may want a more consistent image.

Of course, the LED backlight is touted as one of the distinguishing features, and many other hardware vendors will say it improves color uniformity by lighting the screen more evenly. In our experience, though, about the only visible benefit -- and the only one Apple trumpets -- is the instant-on lighting, which doesn't exhibit the short warmup period you see with typical cold-cathode fluorescent backlights. If anything, the new Cinema Display is somewhat dimmer than the 24-inch iMac. Both are entirely bright enough, but the monitor-only unit often has to sit at two-thirds brightness or higher where the fluorescent iMac and the LED-lit MacBook are still very comfortable even at their lower settings. Either Apple has introduced more dramatic steppings to the brightness controls or else the LED isn't as powerful as it could be, even if it's perfectly fine for actual use.





With the use of a glass cover, though, Apple may have taken one of its biggest risks yet. The glass introduces a significant amount of gloss and, with it, reflections.

The impact of reflections is somewhat overstated by those most determined to avoid it; while you might notice at first, in everyday use with typical lighting conditions they're not often noticeable. Even at the bezel, where the always-black surface can act as a dull mirror, reflections are seldom distracting. We've even heard of artists or video editors consciously opting for the glossy displays, as the switch away from matte can actually produce a truer representation of the final color output and prevent someone using Adobe Photoshop, Aperture, or a similar suite from instinctively oversaturating the image before it's sent to the web or the printer.

Assuming conditions are ideal, that is. While in our testing the background was never really an issue, there are certain circumstances in which the gloss is unavoidable. Viewing a predominantly black website or other document in daylight will also let you view yourself, for example. And if you're unfortunate enough to sit in front of bright spot lighting (chandeliers, fluorescent ceiling lights, and certain floor-standing lamps come to mind), it may be hard to escape the reflection short of moving the display itself.

These conditions are usually only minor inconveniences to everyday users, but they're potential deal breakers for certain creative professionals. For those who aren't clinging to limited palette throughout the entire workflow, visible reflections make it harder to gauge the exact color value a subject should use or whether a portion of the image too bright or too dark. It can also be a nuisance when trying to look for fine detail that might be obscured by the image of a window background.

As such, these experts have to either carefully manage their lighting conditions or else consider another display. It's not a disaster, but it's a hindrance that was never an issue with the previous generation. Most entertainment-minded users don't object to matte screens, but many artists do object to gloss. The environmental tradeoff of glass just wasn't entirely worthwhile here no matter how many in the broader public might like it.


The speakers, the webcam and the USB hub

Apple clearly sees at least the 24-inch model in its third-generation Cinema line as a chance to bring some of the iMac's all-in-one design philosophy to desktops and to lid-closed operation for desktops, and it's this which has pushed the company to make the unusual decision to include full audio and a webcam rather than reduce costs further still over the old 23-inch display.

The LED Cinema Display uses the iMac's trick of piping sound through the bottom and bouncing it towards you. Surprisingly, though, it's actually a 2.1-channel setup with a dedicated internal subwoofer instead of the iMac's 2.0-only design. For internal speakers, they're much more appealing than those on the iMac or for most any other display saddled with often significantly underpowered stereo speakers meant only to satisfy office workers who just need enough to hear voice chats.

The system does a surprisingly good job of producing clear, warm-sounding audio: treble is very distinct (albeit not stellar) and bass isn't lost in the mid-range as it might be otherwise. There are many users who could depend entirely on the Cinema Display's speakers for entertainment, and they're arguably better than many $50-70 external speakers that can't get at least this basic audio range down pat.

Those expecting an audiophile-grade sound system will be disappointed, however, though it's not necessarily something Apple can avoid. Due to the small space and the absence of close contact between the subwoofer and your desk, the bass won't have the punch of a full 2.1 system with a subwoofer close to an appropriate surface. There's also a slightly hollow-feeling sound that reminds you the sound is being pushed out of an aluminum casing and not a perfectly designed wooden shell. Thankfully, serious listeners can automatically override the built-in speakers by plugging speakers or headphones into an attached Mac's audio-out jack, though this also leaves a significant portion of the display's value wasted.





A more universally helpful touch is the built-in iSight camera, which lets owners with lid-closed MacBooks (and most likely, future Mac minis and Mac Pros) hold video conversations without the expense and ugliness of grafting on a third-party camera. There's not much to say about the quality beyond what most computers' integrated webcams offer; it's still not perfectly quick on the draw, doesn't have focus or zoom and induces visible noise in low lighting. But it's convenient and certainly no worse than what you'd expect.

About the only real quirk was the default volume. When we first fired up the camera, the recipient on the other end complained that our voice was too quiet; it turned out that the output volume in System Preferences defaulted to a very low 23 percent and had to be bumped up to around 75 percent before every bit of spoken dialogue was at normal volume.

Less kind words can be said about the reduced expansion options. Further rubbing salt in the wound from the 13-inch MacBook's abandonment of FireWire, Apple has also scrapped the two FireWire 400 ports found on older Cinema Displays. This is admittedly not the gravest concern -- how many owners actually plugged video cameras or audio breakout boxes into their LCDs? -- but it also comes at the expense of expansion, as technical reasons dictate that the three USB ports are now the sum total of the display's expansion. It's evident that the base MacBook and the MacBook Air were primary concerns in the design process, and we can't entirely blame Apple for wanting extra space for that iPhone or still photo camera, but it's a step back.


Power and controls; or rather, the lack thereof

The refocusing of the Cinema Display as a notebook dock becomes obvious with the built-in MagSafe adapter, which is there solely to charge MacBooks. It's arguably the one feature of the LED Cinema Display that simply can't be replicated by other displays, and it's a tremendous benefit for frequent road warriors; you can now leave your MacBook's power brick in a bag and off the floor whenever you're in front of the larger screen, saving you just a minute or two of time but a whole lot of clutter.

What might surprise most is the absence of a power button. Keeping with Steve Jobs' seeming fear of buttons, the new display reacts automatically. Plug a powered device (even a sleeping MacBook) into the DisplayPort jack, and it turns on; remove the cable, and it turns off. There's a certain wonderful simplicity to this, but it also limits your choices for when the display will activate. You can't turn the display off with the computer still running, and nor does the button serve to put both the display and the computer to sleep at the same time. It also makes unplugging peripherals difficult when a connected system is asleep, as there's no way to elegantly do that without first waking the computer and the display at the same time.

Some might also be disappointed with the absence of dedicated brightness or speaker volume controls. We don't see it as much of a problem given Apple's Mac and peripheral lineup for the past year. Any of these have keys to adjust both brightness and volume themselves, while Mac OS X also has software controls. It could be a hassle with non-Apple keyboards, however.



A word on DisplayPort and copy protection

Like with the MacBook, the redesigned display marks Apple's first venture into using DisplayPort for video input. From a performance standpoint, it's functionally equivalent to dual-link DVI but adds two-way signaling; it's hard to tell if Apple is using this newfound interaction at all, but it has the potential for future uses.

The particular implementation doesn't adhere to the official standard; Apple is instead using its own variant, dubbed Mini DisplayPort. This design is actually very convenient and makes for a far smaller, screw-free connection than even full DisplayPort. However, it also locks the display out of any non-Apple computer at present, and only the current MacBook range at that (other Macs are coming soon). There are no existing adapters to convert full DisplayPort, DVI or HDMI to use the display, so those hoping to use older Macs or non-Mac hardware will simply have to wait until if and when peripherals make the link possible.

But in contrast to the at times notorious Apple Display Connector, Mini DisplayPort should at least have broader industry support. The company has recently started offering free licenses to hardware and software makers and may ultimately get backing from rival notebook and video card designers looking to put video outputs into very small spaces.

Some have already railed against Apple's use of DisplayPort as buckling to pressure from overly protective movie studios, as users have already encountered problems with being locked out of movies on external displays that don't support anti-piracy encryption using High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection, or HDCP. To some extent, that's true; Apple wasn't technically required to use DisplayPort and could have insisted on keeping DVI and left purchased iTunes videos with no extra protection. The company was recently forced to patch QuickTime to loosen its restrictions, which until then were actually harsher than what the studios usually demand.

Nonetheless, it's important to separate the technology from the content, and DisplayPort is still a move in the right direction. The LED Cinema Display won't have problems playing any HDCP-encrypted videos, whether they come from the iTunes Store or not. And while movie studios have often been fairly open with standard-definition videos, many of these been less than generous with HD playback rights regardless of the platform. Apple has influence in online movie rentals and sales, but it can't force studios to offer content without HDCP limits or control what happens with Blu-ray videos (should Apple ever adopt Blu-ray movie playback). DisplayPort at least lets Apple continue to offer support for playback on external displays no matter how the battle over copy protection pans out.


The LED Cinema Display in summary

Deciding what to rate Apple's latest display has been particularly difficult precisely because its value is entirely dependent on your choice of hardware and your lifestyle.

As an external display for a MacBook, or for most users of future desktop Macs, the display is excellent. It produces a vivid picture and could easily be called a lifesaver for Mac portable owners tired of tripping over AC adapters or plugging in several cables each time they revisit their desks. Apple's design is quick to set up and easy to use.

But for everyone else, the situation quickly complicates itself. In the time-honored tradition of next-generation Apple hardware, the LED Cinema Display alienates not just older Macs but even systems that technically handle DisplayPort but haven't used Apple's format. It's entirely likely that at least this 24-inch model won't leave the store without a MacBook following at the same time. That's no doubt what Apple would like, but it also sacrifices sales to users of any platform who might be in between system upgrades.

And of course, certain professionals or especially demanding home users simply won't want the display at all due to the gloss. Again, it's not terrible, but to exclude a significant portion of Apple's bread-and-butter pro market from considering an ideally-sized display is effectively throwing money away. Even if a future 30-inch display goes with a matte cover, those prospective buyers aren't likely to be upsold to the bigger offering -- they'll buy elsewhere instead.

There's also the matter of priorities. A Cinema Display with speakers, a webcam and MagSafe isn't necessarily what people want. Without having a component pricing chart, it's impossible to say just how much Apple could have saved by stripping these features. However, in a fiercely competitive market for computer displays, dropping the price to $799 could potentially have picked up owners who wanted the least expensive color-accurate display possible.

As such, AppleInsider's rating shouldn't be used as an absolute gauge of quality, but rather a median point to help you know what to expect. If you're Apple's target user, you'll probably love it and may well rate it half a star higher or more. If you don't need the extras or you don't like the tradeoffs, the display could be strictly average or mediocre. It also won't appeal to buyers who are willing to exchange some image quality for a lower price tag.

From a purely technical standpoint, we like it. The picture is vivid, the sound is great for the class, and the design is both eye-catching and at times handy. We just hope that more Macs and Windows PCs can recognize Mini DisplayPort and that Apple doesn't end up sacrificing a large chunk of its display sales to high-end customers in the name of those few mainstream buyers who can spend the money Apple would like.

Rating 3.5 out of 5



Pros:

Good image quality at or near 24-inch iMac level
LED backlight is green and instant-on
Strong built-in sound
iSight is handy for video chats
Built-in MagSafe charging for MacBooks
Easily rotated/pivoted design
No external power brick

Cons:

Glossy display will scare away some (not all) buyers
Mini DisplayPort currently a MacBook-only standard
Expensive for those who don't need the audio, video or power features
No FireWire; one less port in total
No hardware power or brightness controls
post #2 of 199
sun + matte screen = unvisible dusty image

sun + glossy screen = reflective but visible image

also:

My current 20" cinema matte display is collecting dust in the outer corners. Impossible to wipe it off. And I can't imagine using my hoover to suck the edges clean!
The new 24" CD with its seamless edge display seems to be a sustainable blessing for keeping your screen tidy
post #3 of 199
So my question is about brightness control. Can the user change the brightness with the dedicated Apple Keyboard buttons? It just doesn't have an ambient light sensor?
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MacBook Pro 15inch, 2.5 Ghz, 2Gb (soon to be 4)
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post #4 of 199
AI feeds a lot of misinformation. First of all, the Cinema Display in 1999 did not have a DVI connection. It used Apple's ADC connector, which connected to the Power Macs and G4 Cube. You needed a $99 adapter if you wanted to use an ADC display with DVI. Later models of the Cinema Display switched to a standard DVI connection.

Second, AI claims that Apple could have used the DVI connection to avoid HDCP protection. Wrong again. ANY digital connection is subject to HDCP. The point of HDCP is to prevent the HD signal from being copied in its pure digital form. I guess people at AI don't own HDTV's. My first HDTV in 2003 featured the "new" DVI input for HD signals and it was HDCP compliant. Now that Apple is offering TV shows in HD, that is why HDCP is an issue, because the motion picture industry requires it. If Apple used an HDMI output on the MacBook/MacBook Pro, it would still have HDCP. Most importantly, who would want to watch their HD content purchased from iTunes on Non-HD equipment? If they think they see an HD image on Non-HD equipment simply because they bought the HD version, they are really dumb.
post #5 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleshman03 View Post

So my question is about brightness control. Can the user change the brightness with the dedicated Apple Keyboard buttons? It just doesn't have an ambient light sensor?

Of course. Reviewers just complain because they think there has to be a physical button for everything, and then they claim the product is somehow flawed because of that.
post #6 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

Of course. Reviewers just complain because they think there has to be a physical button for everything, and then they claim the product is somehow flawed because of that.

Yes but doesn't this also mean that if you use it in a dual display mode, you can't adjust the brightness of both displays individually? Cause that seems stupid...
post #7 of 199
Still... no one's answering the question I find most compelling: could I take a Blu-Ray drive and hook it to this display and play Blu-Ray discs? It's tough to test, I suppose, since MDP to HDMI adapters don't exist yet (and I haven't seen any Blu-Ray drives with DP connectors). But I'm assuming this statement means, once the HDMI adapter comes out, I'll be able to connect this to a Blu-Ray player?

"The LED Cinema Display won't have problems playing any HDCP-encrypted videos, whether they come from the iTunes Store or not."
post #8 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by mightywong View Post

could I take a Blu-Ray drive and hook it to this display and play Blu-Ray discs?

The question is probably whether external Blu-Ray drives will play encrypted content when used by OS X? If you can connect a Blu-Ray drive to any Mac laptop and play Blu-Ray movies then they most likely will also play on the new display. But I suspect they will not even play on the laptop in the first place.
post #9 of 199
Sounds like a waste of money to me? It has some advantages over other displays, but I'm just not fully impressed.
post #10 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

Of course. Reviewers just complain because they think there has to be a physical button for everything, and then they claim the product is somehow flawed because of that.

Key question is how do you adjust brightness with a non-Apple keyboard and how do you adjust brightness with multiple displays? (The only way might be via the Display panel in System Preferences.
post #11 of 199
It surprises me that Apple doesn't already offer adapters to get the Cinema Display to work with DVI to support at least the older Mac models without DP. It seems like an obvious thing to do and can only increase the market for the Cinema Display. I can't really see a disadvantage with offering adapters. Maybe some people are less likely to upgrade, but I don't see many people buy a new laptop just to use the new Cinema Display. Maybe Apple just doesn't care?
post #12 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

AI feeds a lot of misinformation. First of all, the Cinema Display in 1999 did not have a DVI connection. It used Apple's ADC connector, which connected to the Power Macs and G4 Cube. You needed a $99 adapter if you wanted to use an ADC display with DVI. Later models of the Cinema Display switched to a standard DVI connection.

I don't remember the details, but I think you are absolutely correct.
Quote:
Second, AI claims that Apple could have used the DVI connection to avoid HDCP protection. Wrong again. ANY digital connection is subject to HDCP.

That depends on how you define 'avoid'. If a content requires HDCP protection, you either have to use HDMI or DisplayPort or go analog. What AI means with 'avoiding HDCP', is that if Apple had used DVI, they could not have implemented HDCP for their iTunes HD content and at the same time offering playback of HDCP content on the new display.
post #13 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by mightywong View Post

Still... no one's answering the question I find most compelling: could I take a Blu-Ray drive and hook it to this display and play Blu-Ray discs? It's tough to test, I suppose, since MDP to HDMI adapters don't exist yet (and I haven't seen any Blu-Ray drives with DP connectors). But I'm assuming this statement means, once the HDMI adapter comes out, I'll be able to connect this to a Blu-Ray player?

"The LED Cinema Display won't have problems playing any HDCP-encrypted videos, whether they come from the iTunes Store or not."

You already answered your own question. No adapters exist to convert HDMI to Mini-DisplayPort
post #14 of 199
I consider my self a pro and have spend many many hours using PS + FCP with both Matte and Glossy screens. My conclusion is... There is nothing beating the Glossy screen!!! ( ...and I´m always right ) When I use my Glossy screen iMac and Glossy screen MacBook Pro in an invironment where light sources may be an issue, I just tilt or move the screen a little. Its no hassle, and its almost never a problem EVEN to start with!

Glossy displays create more saturated colours, deeper blacks, brighter whites, and are sharper than traditional matte displays.This makes these types of displays more appropriate for viewing photos, watching movies, or even just general computer usage such as web browsing. Also, in extremely bright conditions where no direct light is facing the screen, such as outdoors, glossy displays can become more readable than matte displays because they don't disperse the light around the screen (which would render a matte screen washed out).

Finally. It would be almost impossible to turn a Matte screen in to a functional Glossy screen. Its all in the glass! On the other hand it only takes a Non-glare film to change it the other way around. 



Apple has made the right choice and they know it!
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post #15 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

You already answered your own question. No adapters exist to convert HDMI to Mini-DisplayPort

From what I've read, an adapter is impossible. You'll need a converter to go from a DVI/HDMI machine to a DP/mDP monitor. But from a DP/mDP machine a simp[le adapter will work to go to a DVI/HDMI monitor as the DP spec includes backwards compatibility with DVI and HDMI singling.

I think we'll start adapters by MacWorld, or perhaps even by the end of the month.
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post #16 of 199
APPLE, GET THIS CLEAR:

- No Firewire ports, no purchase.
- Glossy display, no purchase.

That is!
post #17 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by zunx View Post

APPLE, GET THIS CLEAR:

- No Firewire ports, no purchase.
- Glossy display, no purchase.

That is!

STEVE JOBS DOESN"T CARE ABOUT MATTE PEOPLE!

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post #18 of 199
Frankly I hate matte screens, the images look too blurry.
post #19 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

AI feeds a lot of misinformation. First of all, the Cinema Display in 1999 did not have a DVI connection. It used Apple's ADC connector, which connected to the Power Macs and G4 Cube. You needed a $99 adapter if you wanted to use an ADC display with DVI. Later models of the Cinema Display switched to a standard DVI connection.

ADC is DVI with added power connectors and a different shell. That expensive adapter is only a power input. I'm surprised there weren't less expensive options. It was one of those connectors where Apple didn't seem to anticipate larger screens, there was only so much power that can be drawn through ADC, quickly making ADC a useless gesture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

After that, however, Apple fell silent. Beyond a quiet panel update in late 2005 and periodic price cuts, the displays had largely remained the same and increasingly felt like relics (which the 20- and 30-inch displays still do, as of this writing). In the meantime, third-party displays became increasingly less expensive even at the high end, where quality has improved as well; while there have been arguments made in favor of Apple's approach to color management, even Mac users have been known to joke in recent years that you bought a Cinema Display only to coordinate the fashion of your monitor with your computer. In some respects, the 24-inch iMac has been more suited to visual editing thanks to a significantly more modern LCD.

I think the older models still look fine. The impulse to have the latest and greatest is needlessly wasteful.

They also coordinate with the new iMacs and notebooks a lot better than they did with the old iMac, MacBook and iBook. I don't think the new style goes well with the mini and Mac Pro at all.

Quote:
Significantly, Apple isn't using dynamic lighting to inflate its contrast ratio; that's unfortunate for gamers and movie viewers, but it's not as much of an issue for editors who may want a more consistent image.

The lack of dynamic contrast ratio isn't unfortunate to anyone as far as I can tell, except for those that look at the spec numbers and somehow assume that they mean something good. My Samsung claims 10,000:1 dynamic contrast, but its blacks are worse and a lot more uneven than my ACD. Dynamic contrast is a joke anyway, it's a disturbing effect to see in practice

Quote:
Either Apple has introduced more dramatic steppings to the brightness controls or else the LED isn't as powerful as it could be, even if it's perfectly fine for actual use.

LCD panel brightness is another thing that has gotten out of hand. The LED backlit notebooks do offer more steppings closer to zero. The fluorescent backlit displays had scales that had no back light and 70 to 100. The LED backlit notebooks went maybe from 40 to 100 percent, including zero at the lowest step. And even that is a bit high in a dark room.

Quote:
Cons:
Glossy display will scare away some (not all) buyers
Mini DisplayPort currently a MacBook-only standard
Expensive for those who don't need the audio, video or power features
No FireWire; one less port in total
No hardware power or brightness controls

I think the second item needs to be expanded a bit more. How about adding "no way to connect to existing Macs in the field"? It doesn't support DVI, something that's supported byn 20+ million Macs in use, and they discontinued the old model.
post #20 of 199
The original 22" Cinema display was actually released as a DVI monitor. About a year later, they switched it to an ADC display. The rest is history.

I understand putting a small video connector on the MacBook, and even the MacBook Pro, but what I don't understand is, why does Apple keep changing the damn video connector? Its just silly IMO. What didn't DVI do that this new Mini Display Connector (or whatever its called) doesn't? Why not just put a Mini DVI connector and ship an adapter with it? If the mini dvi doesn't support dual link dvi, then make it so it will. Don't re-invent the wheel and try to promote a brand new connector. These displays will end up being just like the ADC displays, only certain Mac users will buy them. I love how Apple says, this is an industry standard connector, yet they're the only people using it. I know, I know...Apple just developed it and made it into a standard, but do we really expect everyone to just drop VGA and DVI connectors and use this new Apple connector? Even if its is free to use?

People need to just get over this glossy is bad thing. I've used 3 Macs with glossy displays and they do NOT have any significant glare. Don't just ASSUME that just because its glossy/glassy that its going to glare. Use one in a real world environment and then draw your conclusions. Don't just say well its glossy and it sucks when you've never used one. The LED backlit displays are very bright and overcome most, if not all of any glare that may occur.

Speaking of free licensing....this is something Apple should have done with FireWire. I bet it would have taken off better than it did.

I've seen the display in an Apple Retail Store just after they were announced and they look very nice. Basically and iMac without the guts behind the display. I'd like to see the price come down a little. I don't think the fact that it has an iSight Cam, USB 2.0 Ports, and built-in speakers justifies the extra $300-$350 expensive over a standard 24" display made by someone else. Yes, this is a very nice display, but not $300 over its competition nice.If they could sell it for around $499, that would be more like it. Currently, you have an expensive display with a not so standard display connector that only 2 computers in the world can use. Don't expect great sales...

*ok...off my soap box now*
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post #21 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

As an external display for a MacBook, or for most users of future desktop Macs, the display is excellent. It produces a vivid picture and could easily be called a lifesaver for Mac portable owners tired of tripping over AC adapters or plugging in several cables each time they revisit their desks. Apple's design is quick to set up and easy to use.

But for everyone else, the situation quickly complicates itself. In the time-honored tradition of next-generation Apple hardware, the LED Cinema Display alienates not just older Macs but even systems that technically handle DisplayPort but haven't used Apple's format. It's entirely likely that at least this 24-inch model won't leave the store without a MacBook following at the same time. That's no doubt what Apple would like, but it also sacrifices sales to users of any platform who might be in between system upgrades.

Cons:
Mini DisplayPort currently a MacBook-only standard

Does it take a f*cking rocket scientist to comprehend what Apple means when they say that the LED Cinema Display is, The first display made precisely for a MacBook. http://www.apple.com/displays/

Nowhere in the literature does Apple imply, suggest or recommend that the LED Cinema Display be used for anything else.

To think that a company that has garnered nearly $25 billion in cash by basically being the most innovative company in history does not have plans for future iterations and is out to alienate its customers is ludicrous. Does not the author of this article remember Jobs commitment at the time launch of the new MacBook and MacBook Pro's to expand its use of LED backlit to larger formats and displays as soon as the manufacturing issues of this advanced technology were overcome and became feasible enough.

It would seem logical that the new LED Cinema Display "made precisely for a MacBook" is just the first iteration. Interesting, that Apple is the only company to introduce, bring to market or sell an LED backlit display monitor. All the other half dozen or so companies that had promised the new displays for over a year now, (and for more money), have yet to do so. I guess it is not as easy as it looks.
post #22 of 199
The only reason to buy this is if you really care about the esthetics of your desk. Like, really.

It's a macbook accessory. It's not even viable as a second screen for an iMac, because of the display connector. Even if they rev the imac's display connector, why would you want a second set of speakers, another mic, another camera?

And why, for the love of Pete, isn't there a digital camera card reader?! I would trade five power buttons and three firewire jacks for a card reader.

Nice review and all, but once the boxing day sales come out, I'm buying a Dell Ultrasharp 2408wfp.
post #23 of 199
I believe the review soft pedals the glossy screen factor.

I have a new 24" iMac on my desk at work and two 23" Cinema Displays in my home office.

The work office is interior; light sources are filtered sun and a mix of CFL and LED table, desk and floor lamps. At home there are giant windows on the north and west sides, unobstructed to the sky so the room is flooded with sunlight, especially in the afternoon.

Given these conditions, the work office should be ideal for computer use and the home space a disaster. The hardware design though makes it the opposite.

I despise the 24" iMac because of its glossy, really mirror-like display. Since it landed on my desk, I've had to rearrange the lighting in the office just to make the thing passable. Note that it replaced a previous generation 20" white iMac that sat in the same spot without issue. In contrast the 23" Cinema Displays I have at home never cause a problem because of environmental factors.

The fact that I've had to alter a workspace to accommodate hardware is the mark of bad industrial design. Apple has sacrificed usability for aesthetics in the current iMacs, MacBooks and now this LED Cinema Display. No different than the sin they committed with hockey puck mouse that came with the original iMac.

I just hope that my two 23" Cinema Displays manage to outlast this current, ill-conceived design language twitch.
post #24 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by ltcommander.data View Post

It surprises me that Apple doesn't already offer adapters to get the Cinema Display to work with DVI to support at least the older Mac models without DP. It seems like an obvious thing to do and can only increase the market for the Cinema Display. I can't really see a disadvantage with offering adapters. Maybe some people are less likely to upgrade, but I don't see many people buy a new laptop just to use the new Cinema Display. Maybe Apple just doesn't care?

I'm starting to think that for every smart thing Apple does, there's a corporate policy that they have to do something incredibly dumb to balance it out.

I believe that this display will be slow selling, but not because its a bad display. On the contrary, this is an exceptional display. However, there are a lot of contradictions in its design. For professionals, with a high quality panel, this would be very competive...If it didn't have the glass panel and could work with the Mac Pro. On the other hand, for the consumer, you have glossy display for vibrant colors, integrated high quality 2.1 sound, and a eye catching design that would make it perfect for any Mac desktop... except there isn't a Mac desktop anymore and $900 is out of reach for all but the most affluent consumer. It seems to me that they tried to make a display for two widely different types of customers and ended with an exceptional product that is held back by the contradictions of that.
post #25 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by svanegmond View Post

The only reason to buy this is if you really care about the esthetics of your desk. Like, really.

It's a macbook accessory. It's not even viable as a second screen for an iMac, because of the display connector. Even if they rev the imac's display connector, why would you want a second set of speakers, another mic, another camera?

And why, for the love of Pete, isn't there a digital camera card reader?! I would trade five power buttons and three firewire jacks for a card reader.

Nice review and all, but once the boxing day sales come out, I'm buying a Dell Ultrasharp 2408wfp.

Your comment baffles me. You creating a heading that states that this a MB accessory which you then repeat in the body, but then you seem baffled that the iMacs that came in April don't have mDPs. You also say that the "only reason" to buy it is for aesthetic reasons despite knowing that this is designed to complement Apple's notebook line.

As for the Card Reader, why would expect this on an ACD when no Mac or ACD has ever included them. Personally, I have never needed one. I just plug my camera into my Mac via the included USB cable. If you are one of the few people that want/need them there ate plenty of onexpensive x-in-one Card Readers that cover all those funky Sony designed cards.
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post #26 of 199
By designing the new Cinema Display specifically for MacBook owners, Apple is continuing to ignore the needs of high-end customers who use the Mac Pro. The only Cinema Displays available to them are camera-less and haven't been redesigned in several years. I understand that Apple sees an opportunity to sell Macs to the unwashed masses, but some of their design decisions are really leaving their professional customers out in the cold. The removal of firewire from the MacBook is unforgivable.
post #27 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr O View Post

sun + matte screen = unvisible dusty image

sun + glossy screen = reflective but visible image

Most people doing design or prepress work are not doing it outside so the matte screen with a more accurate (i.e., not oversaturated) color representation will always be preferable to that group.
post #28 of 199
I'm a big matte fan, but there's something even more important to me: I'll take the durability and cleanability of glass any day. Too bad I can't have my cake and eat it too!

(And I quickly got used to my glossy Air. I prefer matte, but it's not a deal-breaker like I feared.)
post #29 of 199
Although most blacks are neutral in color, the thick black border is not design neutral. Video editing environments and print environments all tend to use GREY for neutrality. Even Apple's own Apple Store theaters are grey.

The thick black frame "fights" with designs on the screen and will therefore, influence design decisions. The black border will not stay neutral in your everyday design decision, there are reasons to why grey was picked over black as the neutral color for professionals.

Now I am glad that I bought the aluminum 20 inchers for my work.
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post #30 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by alansky View Post

By designing the new Cinema Display specifically for MacBook owners, Apple is continuing to ignore the needs of high-end customers who use the Mac Pro. The only Cinema Displays available to them are camera-less and haven't been redesigned in several years. I understand that Apple sees an opportunity to sell Macs to the unwashed masses, but some of their design decisions are really leaving their professional customers out in the cold. The removal of firewire from the MacBook is unforgivable.

The last Apple event was focused entirely on Apple's portables. No desktop Macs were updated. I assume that will happen in January, when the rest of the line will get mDP and we'll probably see larger displays that are backlit, but they probably won't ship right away. But that won't prevent you using your new Mac Pro with mDP with an older ACD or 3rd-party display as you'll only need a cheap adapter which will most likely be available by then.

Even if Apple did release a "high-end" ACD for Mac Pro customers the Mac Pro wouldn't be able to utilize it at this point as the GPU still only has DL-DVI so your complaint is pretty much null as it's the Mac Pro that has to be updated prior or at the same time as the ACD, like they did with the new Mac notebooks.

PS: Are we to assume that 24" is the new small for ACDs? I think so.
PPS: I think the larger ACDs that will arrive will have FW800 ports on them.
PPPS: I hope the other ACDs have an IR receiver as the Mac Pro doesn't have an IR reciever and is usually out of the way which makes line-of-sight difficult.
PPPPS: I think we'll see the Mac Mini replaced with a new product, which will be able to use the new ACD's power so you can forego the power brick that ruins the Mac Mini's small form factor design.
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post #31 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by svanegmond View Post

The only reason to buy this is if you really care about the esthetics of your desk. Like, really.

It's a macbook accessory. It's not even viable as a second screen for an iMac, because of the display connector. Even if they rev the imac's display connector, why would you want a second set of speakers, another mic, another camera?

And why, for the love of Pete, isn't there a digital camera card reader?! I would trade five power buttons and three firewire jacks for a card reader.

Nice review and all, but once the boxing day sales come out, I'm buying a Dell Ultrasharp 2408wfp.

I doubt Apple said, lets make a 2nd display for the iMac when they were thinking about making a display like this. How many people do you know connects a 2nd display to their iMac? Yeah, maybe professionals who don't want to purchase a MacPro do, but few general everyday consumers do so. I don't think any of the displays are meant as a second display for the iMac.

I can see this being a good display for the MacPro. It has speakers built in, iSight Webcam, USB 2.0 ports and matches the current design for the most part. The only thing that gets me is the new connector which may be this display (and probably future displays) downfall.

Also, as notebooks are getting more and more powerful, more professionals are using the MacBook and MacBook Pro for their work. Being able to connect a display to their MacBook, or MacBook Pro and not losing the abilities of the display on the notebook is a great thing. They can still use the webcam if necessary. They have decent speakers, it charges your notebook while you use it, etc.

Its kind of an expensive display for a MacMini, but if the new MacMini's (if there are any) have this new display port on it, this new display would make for a perfect display. It basically makes the MacMini into a non all-in-one iMac. Has the same design display with all of the features such as the webcam, speakers, and glossy display, but its connected externally. So you can still add RAM, take out the HD and install a new one, etc.

Why does Apple need a digital card reader when you can plug the camera into the back of the display, or on the Mac itself and let either iPhoto, Image Capture, or Aperture do the rest? This is PC thinking IMO. There's nothing like the ease of using of just getting photos off your camera on the Windows side, until recently. So instead, you had to take the card out of the camera, stick it into a card reader and then do whatever it is you wanted to do with the photos you took. Doing this on a Mac is 5 steps backwards IMO.
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post #32 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by markedcw View Post

I despise the 24" iMac because of its glossy, really mirror-like display. Since it landed on my desk, I've had to rearrange the lighting in the office just to make the thing passable. Note that it replaced a previous generation 20" white iMac that sat in the same spot without issue. In contrast the 23" Cinema Displays I have at home never cause a problem because of environmental factors.

The fact that I've had to alter a workspace to accommodate hardware is the mark of bad industrial design. Apple has sacrificed usability for aesthetics in the current iMacs, MacBooks and now this LED Cinema Display. No different than the sin they committed with hockey puck mouse that came with the original iMac.

I have a friend and former colleague who does design work for a local business and he has a 24" iMac on his desk. Even without a direct source of light behind him (large windows are to his right) he has had to rearrange his workspace to alleviate some of the reflection and glare. He really hates the screen and seemed sort of glum about having the iMac. And this guy is a self-proclaimed Mac fanboy too.

I have pointed out several times now that one of the bragging rights about owning a Mac has been that it stays out of your way and is designed to fit the way people actually work. The fact that people have to adjust to accommodate the demands of the machine really sucks and is as far away from the Apple ideal as you can get.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

I'm a big matte fan, but there's something even more important to me: I'll take the durability and cleanability of glass any day. Too bad I can't have my cake and eat it too!

I've never had any problems keeping matte screens clean and I'm not sure how much more durable a sheet of glass is by comparison. I have to say the idea of a breakable glass surface over the screen makes me a little nervous and doesn't seem any more durable than matte.
post #33 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by mklos View Post

People need to just get over this glossy is bad thing. I've used 3 Macs with glossy displays and they do NOT have any significant glare. Don't just ASSUME that just because its glossy/glassy that its going to glare. Use one in a real world environment and then draw your conclusions.

Please don't be patronizing. Don't just assume everybody complaining about glossies have never used them.
My girl-friend complains about the screen in her alu MacBook at every oportunity.

Quote:
Don't just say well its glossy and it sucks when you've never used one. The LED backlit displays are very bright and overcome most, if not all of any glare that may occur.

Yes, but once again, this only applies to the bright parts of the image. Blacks still look terrible, even with the brightest screens.
So looking at photos is great on those screens, watching Star Wars is no fun. Depending on what work you do, where, and even what time (it's much less of a problem in the evenings) the difference can be significant. It's silly to assume glossy screens are suitable for everyone.
post #34 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by foobar View Post

Yes, but once again, this only applies to the bright parts of the image. Blacks still look terrible, even with the brightest screens.

The problem I have with the brightness argument is that adjusting the brightness up seems to wash out the image, especially at the highest setting.

My two year old ACD at minimum brightness is still at times too bright for me, it sometimes hurts a bit.
post #35 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by zunx View Post

APPLE, GET THIS CLEAR:

- No Firewire ports, no purchase.
- Glossy display, no purchase.

That is!

Considering that Apple is selling more computers than it ever has in its history, and the fact that most of them are glossy displays, I doubt Apple really cares what you think. They're obviously making products people want or else they wouldn't be selling as many as they do.
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post #36 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by foobar View Post

Please don't be patronizing. Don't just assume everybody complaining about glossies have never used them.
My girl-friend complains about the screen in her alu MacBook at every oportunity.



Yes, but once again, this only applies to the bright parts of the image. Blacks still look terrible, even with the brightest screens.
So looking at photos is great on those screens, watching Star Wars is no fun. Depending on what work you do, where, and even what time (it's much less of a problem in the evenings) the difference can be significant. It's silly to assume glossy screens are suitable for everyone.

I don't remember saying that everyone who complains about glossy displays have never used one. That would be putting words into my mouth.

Glossy displays aren't for everyone yes, but they're here to stay. Again, putting words into my mouth saying everyone wants a glossy display.

This isn't pointed directly at foobar here...

EVERYONE is going with glossy displays. Stop bitching and live with it! We can't continue bitching and complaining every time we want something and can't have it. Its simply not the way it works in this world. We can all complain until were blue in the face and it won't change the fact that Apple is only going to offer a glossy display.
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post #37 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by alansky View Post

By designing the new Cinema Display specifically for MacBook owners, Apple is continuing to ignore the needs of high-end customers who use the Mac Pro. The only Cinema Displays available to them are camera-less and haven't been redesigned in several years. I understand that Apple sees an opportunity to sell Macs to the unwashed masses, but some of their design decisions are really leaving their professional customers out in the cold. The removal of firewire from the MacBook is unforgivable.

Why just accuse Apple? In your vernacular, is there anybody who has not ignored high-end users?

Not one LCD manufacturer has introduced a redesign in several years either.

Right now, the only large (24") LED backlit display on the market today is Apple's LED Cinema Display. Sure it only works on the new MacBooks, but come January or shortly thereafter, I would expect further iterations. And probably new Mac Pro's as well.

Perhaps a little background info will help you understand.

A Greener Apple

Arsenic and mercury are industry standard materials used in liquid crystal displays (LCDs). Arsenic is added during the manufacturing of the high performance glass used in LCDs to prevent the formation of defects, and the fluorescent lamps used to illuminate LCDs contain minute amounts of mercury. Apple is on track to introduce our first displays using arsenic-free glass in 2007. A small number of high performance integrated circuits (ICs) will continue to contain a minute amount of arsenic as an element of the semiconductor substrate.

To eliminate mercury in our displays, we need to transition from fluorescent lamps to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the displays. Fortunately, all iPod displays already use LEDs for illumination, and therefore contain no mercury. We plan to introduce our first Macs with LED backlight technology in 2007. Our ability to completely eliminate fluorescent lamps in all of our displays depends on how fast the LCD industry can transition to LED backlighting for larger displays.

Apple plans to completely eliminate the use of arsenic in all of its displays by the end of 2008.

Apple plans to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mercury by transitioning to LED backlighting for all displays when technically and economically feasible.
http://www.apple.com/hotnews/agreenerapple/

And right now Apple is way ahead of the curve and everybody else is playing catchup.

The greenest Apple display ever.
The LED Cinema Display is the most environmentally friendly display Apple has ever created.

The LED Cinema Display is designed with the following features to reduce its environmental impact:

Arsenic-free glass
Brominated flame retardant-free
Mercury-free
PVC-free internal cables
Highly recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure

http://www.apple.com/displays/features.html
post #38 of 199
Quote:
You can't turn the display off with the computer still running

Not true -- that's what Control + Shift + Eject is for. This will turn off all displays, internal and external.
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post #39 of 199
Love the monitors quality...dislike the price but I also dislike the price of many fine German autos but love the design as well.

I don't mind the mDP connectors. Every future Mac will have this connector and I think Apple has done the right think by moving to the small connector (it makes sense to me)

I can't help but like the extra "pop: you get from a glossy screen. I've always felt that matte screens were a step backwards from CRTs (once CRT had flatter faces that is). Matte screens always seemed to dull the picture.

I guess I'm just a fan of reflections...I even like the glassy thumbnails that Leopard appends to my video files.

Lust is having two LED 24 Cinema Display on an articlulating arm.
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post #40 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

I don't mind the mDP connectors. Every future Mac will have this connector and I think Apple has done the right think by moving to the small connector (it makes sense to me)

What confounds me is the hate toward mDP. For the first time Apple has moved to a robust and versatile connector that it will use among its entire product line (if we are to believe Jobs). We no longer have dual-link and single-link, digital and integrated, & mini-, micro-, and standard port interfaces for Macs with DVI. It's also free, has the exact same capabilities as the standard sized interface, bests HDMI and DVI in bandwidth and is backwards compatible to DVI and HDMI monitors. And as previously mentioned it's new enough that we are likely to see others readily adopt it.
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