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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  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Also, the new Dell OSD controls are awesome. Proximity sensor with glowing controls? Bitching. Reply
  • BZDTemp - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Agree but it would have been nice to see the review compare the Dell and the Apple more especially since afaik there are no other displays like them.

    I for one am certainly loving my U2711. I would have liked split-picture function to be an adjustable Picture-in-picture function and the gaming mode is stupid but other than those small details I have no issues. It's hooked up to a PC, a Mac, a PS3 and a 360 all on the same time - great stuff.

    I dream of even more pixels per inch2, but for now the U2711 and the 27" Apple are the best choices bringing even more pixels per inch2 than a 30" panel. When someone makes a "retina" display in 27"+ size it will be a good day :-)
  • ijhammo - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    he he, can you imagine the cost of a 27" retina display!!!! Reply
  • BZDTemp - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    For sure it would cost an impossible amount at first but as with all tech the prices will come down. For example back some 2.5+ decades ago or so my dad paid something $8,000 for a phone the size of a small suitcase and now...

    Or to stay with computers. The first one I bought back when I was a kid cost $500, it had 1 KB memory total and for display I used an old TV and storage was a audio tapedeck. In other words some day... :-)
  • ijhammo - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - link

    yeah, one day!! And we'll be here reminiscing how a an base 8 core Mac Pro cost $3000 whilst talking about the new faster than light optical processors....

    Gotta love technology :-)
  • ijhammo - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Well that depends really on use. I would like a 27" screen with as few as cables as possible to use in a fairly limited space. So a monitor with built in speakers and a charger for my laptop seems like a reasonable choice.

    If ultimate colour quality etc is the goal though, surely you wouldn't even go for the 2711?
  • BZDTemp - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    I must admit to not knowing enough about colours to truly judge my U2711 but it is the first LCD that I have seen come close to my trusted old Sony GDM-F520 (a 21" CRT and perhaps the best CRT ever made).

    Most likely you can get better colour control with a high end EIZO or something like that but these new 27" panels offer finer pixels so it depends on what you're needs are.
  • IceDread - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    I really disslike 16:9, a 16:9 27" is just like a 24" 16:10. The loss of height in the 16:9 aspect is huge and very annoying.

    I also do not like the reflection that can occur to easily and distract me on the apple screens. It may look good at first but it's really annoying when using it.
  • BZDTemp - Thursday, September 30, 2010 - link

    You forget that while the physical size is not as a 30" the 27" still offers a lot more pixels than a 24" 16:10 and the pixels are smaller as well.

    Check out the Dell U2711 to avoid the reflection hell (and gain a lot of nice features)
  • AstroGuardian - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    "For some reason color tracking in the lower left of the screen was measurably worse than anywhere else."

    Guess what...

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