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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  • cnlsilva - Thursday, April 28, 2005 - link

    Thanks for the article - I have an LG/Phillips 1680x1050 display on my laptop and it is great. The only display I can see that could beat it would be tthe 1920x1200 display now on the Dell XPS Gen2 laptop. A review on that display would be nice.
    Two questions:
    1. Anyone have any information on the 17" 1680x1050 display as separate units - I have DVI out so it would be nice to dual monitor - although that is a VERY wide dual display - too wide perhaps.

    Loved the article - a few errors(please edit this and remove this statement):
    page 10 "Unlike analogy" -> analog
    page 10 "uses much simplier" -> simpler
  • Pastuch - Thursday, April 28, 2005 - link

    Fantastic article.

    RE: Widescreen Gaming
    I too found the Widescreengamingforum and was shocked that with simple registry changes you can adjust most games to the native resolution you desire. I play Halflife 2 (CS Source), Farcry, Warcraft 3:FT (DOTA), Doom 3, and Everquest 2 on my 2005fpw without any stretching issues.

    This forum thread has over 90 pages of responces from Dell 2005fpw owners. The thread is actually a review. http://www.neowin.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=24...
  • stukafox - Thursday, April 28, 2005 - link

    Has anyone been able to purchase this monitor at the listed price of $486.85 from the Dealtime link? I click on the 'BUY IT' and am directed to Dell's site, which lists the monitor at $749, less a 25% discount of $187.25, for a total of $561.75. This is far from the $486.85 listed at Deal Time.

    Any idea what's going on?
  • Ibrin - Thursday, April 28, 2005 - link

    I run the website that was mentioned earlier (WSGF), http://www.widescreengamingforum.com

    I posted an article over on the AnandTech forums about this article. The author is quite mistaken, and most new games do support widescreen. If you'd like a bit more detail on some of the games that do support widescreen, you can hit the forum topic here:


    If you'd like detailed info, including on to hack/mod some of your favorite games to run in widescreen, head on over to the WSGF
  • golemite - Thursday, April 28, 2005 - link

    few things...

    1) world of warcraft does support 1680x1050 natively, surprised you didnt see this in the resolution settings

    for other games check out widescreengamingforum.com

    2) 16:10 is usually used for computer/laptop monitors because it is felt that 16:9 doesnt give u an adequate workspace. it is suppose to be the recommended aspect ratio for Longhorn as well

    3) dell will actually replace your LCD for any reason, even down to 1 pixel or backlighting problems within 21 days or so of purchase as part of their total satisfaction guarentee (or similarily named policy) many early adopters have apparently done this successfully
  • JNo - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    oh yeah - thanks Sandys (#37 & 39) - that rocks! really helpful and saved me a lot of time...
    got a modded xbox with monster component, so it's getting even more tempting... just need to find a friend willing to contribute to getting the two at the discount...
  • JNo - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Also, I am guessing that the panel in the Dell 2405 may be the same one as in Sony's P-234/B (23" 1920x1200 widescreen, 16ms response time) reviewed here:

    Can anyone confirm?
  • djbkim - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    My guess is that Dell LCDs are compatible with Macs. Dell's website has only PC compatibility listed.
  • djbkim - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

  • MJA - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    at one time the dell 2005FPW was selling for $386 (techbargains.com codes)I got mine for $486

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