Just how do you make an LCD screen containing more than 2.2 million pixels and not have a single defect... anywhere? Frankly, it's staggering and a tribute to the quality control that Apple has managed to wring out of its suppliers. Here is a screen that is flawless and gorgeous to look at.
Mind you, for a retail price of £1,550 you'd expect perfection, and that's exactly what you get with Apple's new 23-inch Cinema Display. It's a vast rolling vista of screen real estate with a native resolution of 1,900x1,200 pixels. The width of the desktop just seems to go on forever like a Montana sky. In fact, you can't sit too close to the screen because you find yourself having to move your head as though you were watching a tennis match at Wimbledon's Centre Court. However, that expanse is worth having if you're using your Mac to edit video or to lay out spreads with QuarkXPress or Adobe InDesign. You wouldn't need it for surfing the web or word-processing, but for creative applications it's perfect.
Goodbye ADC If you've owned an older Apple Cinema Display, you'll notice that the proprietary ADC standard has gone. ADC seemed like a good idea with just one cable for video power and USB, but it wasn't appreciated by everyone and eventually found its way to the non-standard graveyard. Thankfully, Apple's new range of screens uses good old DVI for its video signals. However, Apple has tried to keep to its promise of less cable clutter and more simplicity with some very clever design work.
The power for the screen is supplied from a small rectangular white brick that features a standard kettle lead input and a small output cable that provides power to the monitor. Bundled into one larger cable along with that small DC power lead is the main cable, going to the screen carrying DVI as well as FireWire and USB signals. You plug the DVI, USB and FireWire cables into the back of your Mac and then one cable takes all the signals and power to the monitor. The result is a nice and tidy set-up without loads of cables snaking all over the place. Those USB and FireWire cables manifest themselves on the monitor as a series of ports at the back of the screen. Two USB 2.0 sockets and two FireWire 400 ports make attaching peripherals a breeze - no more struggling round the back of your Power Mac. As you would expect, the quality of the image onscreen is second to none. Illumination is superbly even and the contrast and brightness go high enough to warrant Apple selling this screen with a large pack of Aspirin. Fortunately, you can turn down the brightness - you probably will want to as staring at this screen with everything whacked up on full will furnish you with a migraine in no time. What's it like in use?
Response times seem good and we certainly found that the wide cinema aspect brought DVDs to life. It may not be as adept as something like a Sharp Aquos TV, but it's good for most of us. Add in a set of SoundSticks and an iSub and you're well on your way to a home cinema set-up.
Any downsides? Well, yes. There's no height adjustment on this monitor and as much as Apple might like to think it doesn't need one, it won't look quite so pretty if you have to perch it on a pile of books in order to get that crick out of your neck.
Apart from the height issue, we couldn't find fault with this screen. Even the viewing angles are generously wide compared with the screens used on the new iMac G5s. This isdefinitely the professional choice for video producers and digital artists who want a bit more elbow room on their desktop.