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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  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Also, the new Dell OSD controls are awesome. Proximity sensor with glowing controls? Bitching. Reply
  • BZDTemp - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Agree but it would have been nice to see the review compare the Dell and the Apple more especially since afaik there are no other displays like them.

    I for one am certainly loving my U2711. I would have liked split-picture function to be an adjustable Picture-in-picture function and the gaming mode is stupid but other than those small details I have no issues. It's hooked up to a PC, a Mac, a PS3 and a 360 all on the same time - great stuff.

    I dream of even more pixels per inch2, but for now the U2711 and the 27" Apple are the best choices bringing even more pixels per inch2 than a 30" panel. When someone makes a "retina" display in 27"+ size it will be a good day :-)
    Reply
  • ijhammo - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    he he, can you imagine the cost of a 27" retina display!!!! Reply
  • BZDTemp - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    For sure it would cost an impossible amount at first but as with all tech the prices will come down. For example back some 2.5+ decades ago or so my dad paid something $8,000 for a phone the size of a small suitcase and now...

    Or to stay with computers. The first one I bought back when I was a kid cost $500, it had 1 KB memory total and for display I used an old TV and storage was a audio tapedeck. In other words some day... :-)
    Reply
  • ijhammo - Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - link

    yeah, one day!! And we'll be here reminiscing how a an base 8 core Mac Pro cost $3000 whilst talking about the new faster than light optical processors....

    Gotta love technology :-)
    Reply
  • ijhammo - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Well that depends really on use. I would like a 27" screen with as few as cables as possible to use in a fairly limited space. So a monitor with built in speakers and a charger for my laptop seems like a reasonable choice.

    If ultimate colour quality etc is the goal though, surely you wouldn't even go for the 2711?
    Reply
  • BZDTemp - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    I must admit to not knowing enough about colours to truly judge my U2711 but it is the first LCD that I have seen come close to my trusted old Sony GDM-F520 (a 21" CRT and perhaps the best CRT ever made).

    Most likely you can get better colour control with a high end EIZO or something like that but these new 27" panels offer finer pixels so it depends on what you're needs are.
    Reply
  • IceDread - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    I really disslike 16:9, a 16:9 27" is just like a 24" 16:10. The loss of height in the 16:9 aspect is huge and very annoying.

    I also do not like the reflection that can occur to easily and distract me on the apple screens. It may look good at first but it's really annoying when using it.
    Reply
  • BZDTemp - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    You forget that while the physical size is not as a 30" the 27" still offers a lot more pixels than a 24" 16:10 and the pixels are smaller as well.

    Check out the Dell U2711 to avoid the reflection hell (and gain a lot of nice features)
    Reply
  • AstroGuardian - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    "For some reason color tracking in the lower left of the screen was measurably worse than anywhere else."

    Guess what...
    Reply

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