Final Words

I think the more compact 27-inch form factor is the right package to deal with greater than 1080p resolutions. Thirty inch monitors are great if you need more than 1920 x 1200 on a single panel but they’re bulky and don’t have a particularly great pixel density. The 27-inch 16:9 panel in the new LED Cinema Display is a nice alternative.

The styling is impeccable however Apple made two sacrifices in order to design such a pretty display. The first sacrifice is the glass covered panel. It looks great but glare can be a problem. Apple has generally avoided the problems associated with glare by outfitting its glass displays with ridiculously bright backlights/panels; the 27-inch LED Cinema Display is no exception. Glare is actually even less of a problem indoors since its easier to control light, and the bright display is more than enough to compensate. The issue of glare actually has to do with watching dark scenes in movies on the screen. You’ll see your reflection in dark scenes or even in objects like a suit jacket in an otherwise well-lit scene. It’s very bothersome at first, but you can get used to it if you absolutely must. While I don’t mind Apple’s glossy MacBook Pro screens, I’m less sold on their use for a desktop. Perhaps this is because I don’t watch a lot of TV/movies on my notebook and more on my desktop.

The second sacrifice is the lack of a height adjustable stand. You can tilt the Cinema Display but you can’t move it up or down. Apple even has the gall to suggest simply adjusting the height of your workspace if your monitor is too high/low. This wasn’t a problem for me because I actually bought a height adjustable desk a while ago (a properly adjusted desk helps fend off carpal tunnel in a major way), but I recognize that the vast majority of desks out there don’t let you change their height. Whether or not the lack of height adjustment will bother you really depends on your choice of desk.

The integrated speakers are a nice touch. They’re good enough to get the job done if you’re space constrained and a significant step above what you get in a notebook. Compared to a good set of desk speakers however they obviously fall short.

Cable management is beautifully handled. The single cable carrying MagSafe power, USB/audio and video keeps desk clutter to a minimum. Being able to charge your MacBook/MacBook Pro/MacBook Air is awesomely convenient. This is the sort of proprietary Apple design that the company has employed for decades, the difference is now Apple has the marketshare for it to actually be useful. The cable length is a bit limiting to how you can setup your desk so keep that in mind before getting too excited.

As a monitor the 27-inch LED Cinema Display is very bright. Black levels are average for a high end panel and as a result we noted middle of the road contrast on the display. Color reproduction out of the box isn’t that great, but calibrated the display is good.

Color gamut is the bigger issue thanks to the LED backlight. You get a power efficient display, but you also lose a chunk of the AdobeRGB 1998 color gamut. RGB LEDs would solve this problem but they are costly (and power hungry) to implement. Apple wanted a thin display (ruling out CCFL) and presumably wanted to stay below $1000, which ruled out RGB LEDs for the backlight.

If you’re used to notebook displays, the 27-inch LED Cinema Display will still be a step above. But if you’re moving from a high end desktop panel you may actually take a step back in color quality. Coming from using mostly CCFL lit panels, I found the whites to be too harsh on the 27. Color and brightness uniformity are both very good.

Overall the new 27-inch LED Cinema Display isn’t the knockout I had hoped it would be. You get 90% of the resolution of a 30-inch display, in a more compact package. The ability to charge your notebook (if you’re a modern Apple user) is a nice convenience as well. And at $999 it’s actually more affordable than most 30-inch LCDs. With a 120Hz panel and RGB LED backlighting it could have been both forward looking and near perfect, instead what we have is a display that’s good, but not great.

Power Consumption


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  • ijhammo - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    nicely put Targon Reply
  • geok1ng - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    At $999 this display is a bit overpriced.

    The low-end 27" iMac starts at $1699, featuring core i3 530, 4GB DDR3, Slim DVD, 1TB HDD, Radeon 5670 mounted on a notebook LGA1156 mobo.

    This hardware costs more than $470 on newegg, and the miniDP on the iMac can receive external video sources ( not to mention a possible hack to directly mount the iMac display externally).

    It would solve the main problem showed on the review: the self fulfilling prophecy that this display will only be used with Macs.

    The ideal Imac for hacking is the $1999 i5 + Radeon 5750. For another $1000 you get the very same display coupled with a valid mid range hardware all-in-one.
  • Cattykit - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Nice assumption but I doubt if it really is the case.

    What I recall is that when this S.Korean company introduced one of their IPS monitors in U.S a few years ago, they increased price about $300 (compared to S.Korean price) and people went crazy for it as it was considered very cheap compared to what was availbe in the market.

    Being interested in that, I did a breif research on IPS monitor market in S. Korea. What I found out is that a. there are so many feature packed IPS monitors b. they are much cheaper.

    Of course, LG - the IPS pannel maker - is a S. Korean coporation and that should explain the difference in market situation. However, what's interesting is that all other products that came from S. Korea - Samsung, LG, and even Hyundai automobiles- are cheaper in U.S than in S. Korea.

    After all, I couldn't figure out why IPS monitors are so much more expensive in U.S, not to mention lacking availability.

    P.S: After writing this, I did a simple search of IPS monitors on S. Korean electronics site. Keep it mind below are only a very small representation of hundereds of monitors in the S. Korean market. Last time when I did throughout research, it took me days and days.

    27" 2560 x 1440 IPS for $420 (sales tax included),
    26" 1920 x 1200 IPS for $500 (built-in HDTV tuner, speaker, PIP, D-SUB, HDMI, Component, DVI, RF Antenna, Tilt Swivel)
    30" 2560x1600 IPS for $620.
  • numberoneoppa - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Because this is a high-density IPS panel. It's really not too outrageous a price. Reply
  • andy o - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    I'm more annoyed that they are going for 16:9 in even the highest-resolution computer displays. There is no reason for it, you're only losing desktop space. Reply
  • xype - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Seeing how most applications have their palettes and settings in a column (either to the left or to the right of the main working space), I don't see how a wide ratio is a problem? Also, the ratio has nothing to do with the amount of pixels you can show—if you want higher pixel count, you want higher pixel count. If you want a ratio that's more of a square, you want that. If you just want a taller screen at the same width, go with one of the 30" ones. Reply
  • LordanSS - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    I'll base my response on the fact that I am a computer gamer.

    For that kind of stuff, perhaps a LCD like this might be overkill... and considering the very slow response time of 12ms, might not be good at all, as you can find many TN panels around with a quarter or less response time (GTG) compared to that.

    Anyways, the vertical loss of pixels is an issue for several games, specially ones with customizable UIs, where you can move around windows and whatnot. MMOs come to mind. Those missing pixels, in this case, do make a big difference in your viewing area.
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Customizable UIs generally have the ability to put menus on the side, but true "gamers" would rely on a better keyboard than the onscreen interface.

    As xype has said, it's pixel count that you want. 27w" is the diagonal width, which would have the same vertical pixels as a 20-21" monitor at 4:3.

    BTW, if height is what you're after, you can rotate your monitor to 9:16 instead, it's only a matter of switching a setting in video preferences, but wider field of view is actually more important for gaming, especially in FPS, but also in MMORPGs.
  • Strunf - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    "but wider field of view is actually more important for gaming, especially in FPS"
    That is if you play "flat" FPS where everyone is at the same level, if you play FPS where players can be on top of buildings and what not the height becomes a very important factor, 16:10 is for me the best ratio available... also a 16:9 doesn't necessarily have a wider field of view than a 4:3, both could have the same horizontal resolution while the 4:3 would have a higher vertical one.
    I really don't get how the 16:9 is becoming the norm when its not a progress for gamers on the contrary...
  • crimson117 - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    MS Word 2007 has the menu at the top of the screen, not to the side. Reply

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