For the same wodge of cash that you'd have to lay down to buy this monitor, you could buy four Mac minis and an iPod touch.

In fairness, this is a serious piece of kit designed for the very demanding creative pro market that doesn't object (much) to forking out so long as you get the performance.

Superior colour range

On the surface, this latest display from NEC looks like the business; it's 30 inches across the diagonal, boasts a phenomenal 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution and can display a huge range of colours.

It's rated as displaying 97.8% of the AdobeRGB colour space, a couple of percentage points better even than some displays such as LaCie's 526 which are considered to be pro-level monitors.

Colours can be kept in check too; not only does it feature a dedicated USB port for a colour calibration puck that can run its routines without needing a Mac or PC to be connected, but proper 12-bit colour lookup tables mean that the calibration itself will be much more accurate.

This isn't, you'll gather, a monitor aimed at the consumer market, and some of the features that we've become used to in more broad-appeal displays - USB hub, lots of different inputs, maybe even a card readers built into the bezel - just aren't here. Inputs are limited to DVI‑D and DVI-I.

Powerful monitor

The monitor can even be used portrait, though when we did it had an intimidating, 2001-style vibe that quickly made us swivel it back.

You'll need a meaty Mac to drive the display at its full, native resolution, however. It has to support dual link DVI, which in practice means Mac Pros, MacBook Pros and late PowerBooks and G5s.

The performance is certainly very impressive. Colours are rich but accurate, and the matt finish to the screen means you won't be troubled by distracting reflections.

There's a little more apparent grain than we'd like for a monitor of this price, and we were disappointed to note that the backlighting wasn't perfectly even across the monitor. It was commendably consistent even at the edges and corners, but there was a vertical patch that was a little brighter. That may have been a glitch with our specific unit, and at least viewing angles are prodigious.

A justifiable price tag

Although the specs are similar, the quality of the MultiSync LCD3090WQXi is significantly higher than Apple's own 30-inch Cinema Display, and while the £600 difference in price is not insubstantial, it's worth paying.