When reviewing hardware, we often run into the scenario of limited diversity; dozens of manufacturers send us hardware that differs from everyone else's design by a different color PCB or bezel. Every once in a while, however, we have the pleasure of looking at something that is completely different than anything else currently available on every level. When Apple wanted us to look at their newest 20" Cinema display, we knew that our opportunity to look at something so unique in the displays market would be a rare occasion.

In fact, the 20" M9177LL Cinema displays are so unique that Apple really only has a single Tier 1, 20" wide screen competitor - Dell's UltraSharp 2005FPW. The move to wide screen computer displays has been a slow one. Unlike digital TVs, which are mandated to be HD capable by a certain year based on their screen size, regulatory committees do not enforce similar directives on PC displays - and rightfully so. Obviously, high definition media such as DVDs utilize wide screen dimensions; most PC content remains relatively optimized for traditional 4:3 screens. Web content, for example, is still largely fixed at 1024 pixels wide. Games, however, are starting to pick up on wide screen formats (World of Warcraft, UT2004) and anyone who has done any video or photo manipulation can assure that you wider displays make for much more immersive content creation.

As unique as Apple's Cinema display might be in the world of 19" to 21" flat panel displays, it shares the same LG.Philips panel as the Dell UltraSharp 2005FPW. There happens to be only a single panel manufacturer capable/willing to mass produce wide screen, high resolution flat panel displays for the PC market. Since these two displays are so similar, we thought it only necessary to review both side by side. Several sources have claimed that the 2005FPW had numerous discoloration problems and generally poor image quality. Obviously, if one of our displays demonstrates imperfections, we would expect to see both displays to be flawed. However, the Dell and Apple displays utilize different backlights, so we are open to the thought that there will be some dissimilarities between the units. Let's take a closer look at our 20" displays.

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  • intellon - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Oh why oh why did you leave out a small paragraph of comment on the composite input or the s-video one... If you can update the review by connecting xbox to it and playing halo on the xbox, and commenting on the playability in just one itsy bitsy paragraph that would make this head to head review complete...

    Lots of students with cramped space dream about using computer monitor as a display for their consoles.
  • jasonsRX7 - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Lots of Mac users love the Dell widescreen displays, they're great for the money. I'm a Mac user and I thought a lot about getting a Dell widescreen but ended up with a 30" Apple Cinema display instead. There are tons of people in the Mac forums I visit that use the Dell 20" and 24" monitors, though.
  • Chuckles - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Hey #11: Try $799.

    As long as your video card has the S-Video Port between the DVI ports, two connectors will fit. If they are crammed next to each other, they won't.
  • xsilver - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    "The largest mistake that we see people make when they buy a new LCD is to put their new, bright LCD in a dim, dark room (and then turn the LCD down to 25% brightness). Not only is this terrible for your eyes,"

    can you clarify this? why is this so bad? you mention colour offset, but if this is changed accordingly, what is different?
  • lebe0024 - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    This has nothing to do with MAC vs. PC. This is a display manufactured by Apple, which has nothing to do with Apple's "Macintosh" computer line, other than the fact that they're sold together.
  • MIDIman - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    An absolutely superb real down to earth mac vs. pc comparison.

    Reminds me of the millions of times I've been confronted by mac-lovers saying that the Apple Cinema Display is the only good LCD on the market and is "worth" the extra cost. Nowadays, I just send them to anandtech!
  • hirschma - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    A couple of quick comments:

    * I have two OLD Apple DVI monitors hooked to my PC. While they work great, there is no software for the PC to control anything except the backlight controls, like the model reviewed here. I'm guessing that the new model still doesn't come with anything in that regard.

    * The Apple DVI cable head looks too "fat" to use with Dual DVI cards - looks like one port will be partially blocked. Is that accurate?

    I'd like to have heard more about the Apple monitor's suitability for use with Windows.

  • cHodAXUK - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Dell UK are charging nearly £600 for the 2005, thats $1000 the cheeky mofos. Looks like Dell are another company exploiting the ripoff Britian mentality.
  • DCstewieG - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    I'm surprised the price of the Apple display is never mentioned. If the Dell is $486 at the outlet store online you figure the Apple name will cost maybe $100 or so more? So about $600.

    Try $999.

    Geez, I think that thing is as sexy as anyone else, but holy crap is that a premium. And without the possibility of analog! $350 for the Dell on the right day makes a hell of a lot more sense to me, even if roles were reversed and it had been rated slightly worse than the Apple.
  • DeanO - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Good review Kristopher :)

    Personally, I've seen photos that show some serious backlight leakage on these things, so I'm still a little hesitant, though it's reassuring that you guys haven't had this problem.

    Hope the upcoming reviews of bigger screens include the Dell 2405FPW. That screen looks fantastic!

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