Specifications

Although both the Apple and Dell 20" displays use the same LG.Philips LCD LM201W01 panel, Apple and Dell seem to differ (at least in terms of marketing) on several specifications including response time, contrast ratio and brightness. Granted, Dell and Apple use different backlights that may account for the 50 nit difference. On the other hand, Apple hardware is traditionally listed with slightly conservative specifications. Part of our review process is to evaluate these specifications anyway - and since these are nearly identical displays, it will be very easy for us to verify which model has the more accurate listed specifications.


Click to enlarge.

Apple Cinema Display 20" M9177LL
LCD Panel 20.1" WSXGA+ LCD (Active Matrix)
pixel pitch: 0.258mm
Anti-glare coating
Super IPS Panel
Advertised Scanning Frequency Horizontal: 31-83kHz
Vertical: 56-75Hz
Advertised Response Time 16ms (Typical)
Advertised Viewing Angle 170 / 170 (Horizontal / Vertical)
Advertised Contrast Ratio 400:1 (Typical)
Compatibility 1680 x 1050 (Native)
Advertised Brightness 250 cd/m2
Warranty 1 year parts and labor

Dell UltraSharp 2005FPW
LCD Panel 20.1" WSXGA+ LCD (Active Matrix)
pixel pitch: 0.258mm
Anti-glare coating
Super IPS Panel
Advertised Scanning Frequency Horizontal: 31-83kHz
Vertical: 56-75Hz
Advertised Response Time 12ms (Typical)
Advertised Viewing Angle 176 / 176 (Horizontal / Vertical)
Advertised Contrast Ratio 600:1 (Typical)
Compatibility 1680 x 1050 (Native)
Advertised Brightness 300 cd/m2
Warranty 3 years parts and labor

Oddly, Dell lists their 2005FPW with a typical response time of 12ms while Apple and the panel manufacturer both claim a 16ms response time. Over the last several months, we have seen display manufacturers claim only the rising response time on their product specifications. Given the track record of most manufacturers to inflate contrast ratios using favorable testing techniques, the likelihood that accurate response time measurements are starting to crumble to more aggressive marketing seems high. Of course, anyone who reads our display reviews on a regular basis can probably tell you that "average" (TrTf) response time has very little to actual responsiveness of the display and that other specifications, like color depth and display mode, can be more helpful when purchasing a new monitor.

The M9177LL utilizes very different native resolution than what we have seen in the past. LG.Philips LCD largely pioneered the WSXGA+ signal resolution found on the Cinema display and we saw our first demonstrations of the technology back at the Consumer Electronics Show in January of 2004. Since then, WSXGA+ has gained a bit of popularity in laptops, but not in LCD TVs. Unfortunately with HD signals broadcast at 1280x720 or 1920x1080, all of the XGA+ signals pioneered by LG.Philips require some signal conversions, which result in skewed pixels or skewed signals. While watching WMV9 samples on our Cinema display, we attempted to overcome this by only viewing windowed 720p movies, but unfortunately, a bit of screen real estate is wasted in the process. We can't penalize Apple or Dell for trying, however, and both the 23" and 30" Cinema displays incorporate resolutions large enough to play unaltered 1080p signals.

The strongest aspect of the LG.Philips LCD panel utilized in the Cinema display is ultimately the 8-bit Super IPS display. We have covered some displays in the past that utilize 16ms and 12ms 6-bit TN displays. We have never been in favor of sacrificing color depth for response time, but some insist that the sub 20ms response time is absolutely critical to their usage. We will get more into various usage benchmarks later on.

For those not familiar with LCD display modes and how they work, feel free to check out our LCD FAQ from 18 months ago. To reiterate, the fundamental problem with any LCD is that when the LCD liquid crystals "twist" (or "untwist"), there is ultimately a several millisecond delay. This delay translates into a several millisecond delay on the LCD screen. This is unfortunately complicated by the fact that displays do not simply twist the crystal on or off, but at one of 255 degrees (for 8-bit displays) or 63 degrees (for 6-bit displays). Obviously, two states that are very close to each other take less time than two states further apart from each other, which results in pixels that are not just delayed in a uniform manner, but at several different speeds across the entire panel depending on the hue. This generates motion blur, but is commonly misnamed as ghosting (which is a different problem that we will talk about later).

Super IPS counters motion blur by simply aligning the individual fibers that make up the crystal in a particularly easy alignment, without sacrificing viewing angle. Please refer to the FAQ if you would like to know more about SIPS in particular and how it stacks up against PVA, MVA or TN.

We were very surprised to learn that the Apple Cinema 20" display only comes with a one-year limited warranty, if you do not purchase the display with a PowerBook or PowerMac. Dell displays all come with a three-year limited warranty.

Index If looks could kill
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  • graphicsgal - Friday, April 28, 2006 - link

    Our ad agency is trying to decide which of these monitors to purchase for our print staff. Is there any info on any differences in printed pieces? Reply
  • tmanXX - Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - link

    Does anyone know what revisions of the 2005FPW to stay away from?

    Thanx!
    Reply
  • jchor - Thursday, April 06, 2006 - link

    Did anybody figure out the power saving mode problem? Reply
  • cybrsamurai - Thursday, May 26, 2005 - link

    I have purchased four 2005FPWs with out a single dead pixel or problem. I even dropped one right on its corner from about 4 feet up still works fine. Dont be afraid embrace the good cheap monitor. Reply
  • yacoub - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    Dell make good LCDs if you discount all the people who have had to return them for backlight issues and/or dead pixels. I'll stick with Sony after owning one that has not a single stuck or dead pixel and just a slightly brighter bottom backlight. Let me know when Dell ups the quality enough that I can be certain to get one without dead pixels (or let me know when they start selling these panels at b&m stores so I can return it right away if it has issues). Reply
  • Ranger8P - Monday, May 23, 2005 - link

    Did you guys have the model A01 or the model A02? I didn't see that mentioned in the article. I recently bought a 2005 and it has the same manufacturing date as the one in your review. It's an A01 Reply
  • pucerian - Saturday, May 21, 2005 - link


    great place to get high resolution widescreen wallpapers for these monitors is InterfaceLIFT

    http://interfacelift.com/wallpaper/resolutions.php...
    http://interfacelift.com/wallpaper/resolutions.php...

    Reply
  • LorenAmelang - Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - link

    Great Review - Thank You!

    A couple of user comments asked about the S-Video & Composite video performance - here's the scoop:

    Before I ordered my 2005FPW, I tried to find out how it handled widescreen 16:9 vs. conventional 4:3 aspect ratios for the video inputs. I found no clue. But since video was not my main concern, I ordered it anyway - how bad could it be?

    Now I can tell you. It is unbelievably disastrous. It doesn't do any form of video correctly. First, it completely ignores the (anamorphic) widescreen control signals from my DV camera and DVD recorder. All video is mangled in the same way.

    Its manual aspect ratio choices are "Fill" which warps either 4:3 or 16:9 video to the full 16:10 screen format, or "1:1" and "Aspect" which warp all video to a different wrong aspect. This is not 4:3 (1.33 : 1), nor is it 16:9 (1.78 : 1), nor even 16:10 (1.60 : 1). It is 1.50 : 1, which is what you get if you take 4:3 standard 720x480 DV video and display the non-square video pixels as square display pixels.

    Of course you can't tell this by measuring the image boundary, because the video image is severely cropped (overscanned), particularly in the horizontal direction. In terms of a 640 pixel wide image, about 42 pixels are cut off each side. In "Fill" mode, a 4:3 picture is even more distorted than the 16:10 ratio would suggest. If you choose "Aspect" to get somewhat closer to 4:3, you end up with black bars along those edges in place of the missing 1/8th of your video, but what you do see is still too wide.

    When you use the picture-in-picture feature, you don't get the "1:1" and "Aspect" choices. All video is stretched to fill the 16:10 screen area of each of the available PiP or PbP sizes.

    Why would Dell bother to add the hardware for S-Video and composite video inputs, and get the software so wrong? I suspect the hardware was borrowed from a 4:3 (1600x1200) monitor, where the "Fill" choice would at least display conventional video more-or-less properly.

    But why the neglect of the rectangular video pixels versus square computer pixels issue? Can anyone with a Dell 2001FP 4:3 display enlighten us as to whether it has "1:1" and "Aspect" choices, and whether they produce too wide a picture when fed 4:3 video?

    So what does the video look like, other than distorted? Very bright and colorful, and fast, but when stretched to fill most of the screen it is blocky. The scaling algorithm is nowhere near as good as that in my (original) Apple Studio Display, or in a Sony WEGA (DRC) TV.

    Oh well, the 2005FPW is a beautiful computer monitor. And my tablet's Intel Graphics adapter (82830M), which gave no hint of supporting 1680x1050 before the monitor was here, suddenly made that resolution available when the 2005FPW was connected. (Windows didn't show it, but the Intel control panel did.)

    One more thing... If you buy a Dell monitor alone, without a Dell CPU on the same invoice, you do not get a Dell "System Tag". Without a system tag, you can not access any of Dell's online support or chat support options. You simply do not exist.

    The telephone support people will talk to you if you give them a serial number or order number, but there is no support department dedicated to displays. I ended up being transferred to the Dell TV support people, and spent literally hours on the phone. Even sent them photos of test patterns to illustrate the aspect problems. I'm not sure I was even able to make them understand, let alone solve the problem.

    Best to just forget the 2005FPW has those S-Video and analog video inputs. Unless you have a thing for short, fat people...

    Loren
    Reply
  • stevlevin - Saturday, May 14, 2005 - link

    Excellent review! It's way over my non-tech head, but I surely appreciate that these are both great monitors.

    Here's my problem. I bought the Dell 2005 and found with a DVI interface that it is so bright that it hurts my eyes, as #9 comment said. Apparently the contrast control is disabled with DVI, and the range of brightness control is very limited - extremely bright to very bright. I had to return it just on that basis.

    When I went to the Apple store, it appeared to me that the 20" Cinema display may have a greater range of brightness. Have others had this problem or found a solution? Am I missing something that might have allowed me to lower the brightness or adjust the contrast of the Dell monitor?

    Thanks for all comments.
    Reply
  • wrack - Thursday, May 05, 2005 - link

    So can I assume that any graphics card of ATI like, 9800, X300, X600, X700, X800 will support the resolution in question. Reply

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