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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  • sandys - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Oh yeah and as for panel manufacturer it can only be Samsung, not seen anyone else doing one. probably the ltm240w1


    pure guesswork of course :p
  • Gatak - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    #36, It is about contrast. The eyes are strained if you have a bright light in just a part of the field of view. The strain comes from having to both adjust for the bright light _and_ at the same time allow enough light to come from the darker areas. In other words it is difficult for the eyes to properly acclimate to the lighting situation.
  • sandys - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Hi JNo,

    The 2405 can be bought in the UK, for some reason it is not showing on Dells site but you can still phone them and buy it so answers to questions

    a) yes it supports 1:1 pixel mapping
    b) it can be bought but price varies depending on offer at the time, I bought two and got one half price plus 20% off bring each to £540 which was a bargain, others have got around 600-693 for a single unit.
    c) yes it can.

    The 2405 also has component and I run my PS2 and xbox off of it, unfortunately we get stiffed a bit in the UK and box Sony and MS remove the useful progressive resolutions in place of interlaced so the only way to get a quality output on Xbox is to mod it and switch it to NTSC and for the PS2 buy US games or live with 576i :(

    look here www.hdtvarcade.com

  • xsilver - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    obviously to "fix" a dark room you just turn on the light... but I wanted to know more about the principles behind it.... what makes the monitor so different when its used in a dark room?
    why is it so bad to turn down the brightness?
    why does it hurt your eyes? (cause it doesnt hurt mine)
  • Zak - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Doom3 and Trainz configs can also be edited to support 1680x1050.

  • ir0nw0lf - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Don't forget that World of Warcraft natively supports 1680x1050!!
  • bob661 - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    I won't buy a LCD either, yet. I do have a Viewsonic VP201b (supposedly the same panel as the Dell 2001FP) and it was VERY good playing UT2004 and Doom 3. I'll wait for two more generations of LCD AND then I'll some more for those to come down into the $300 range for a 19 or 20".
  • DestruyaUR - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Will these new 23 and 30" samples you speak of have HDCP circuitry so they could actually be used as TVs?
  • Gatak - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    #9: Easy to fix. Increase ambient light in the room. It is usually never good to work in a dark room. The "White" on the screen should also be the same color temperature as the ambient light.
  • TinyTeeth - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Great review, but you really should use a better camera... :X

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