Apple 27-inch Cinema Display review

Introducing Apple's latest monitor; but does it work hard enough to justify its price tag?

Apple 27-inch Cinema Display
The 27-inch LED Cinema Display is a stunning, if pricey, addition to your workspace

TechRadar Verdict


  • +

    Bright and sharp

  • +

    Single cable to Mac

  • +

    Good speakers


  • -

    Very pricey

  • -

    Colour consistency not the best

  • -

    Height not adjustable

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Apple kit's never cheap, and the Apple 27-inch Cinema Display, stunning though the image is, does little to break that notion.

At £899 before January's VAT rise, this costs more than an 11-inch MacBook Air, although you do get a heck of a lot more screen space.

The panel packs in 2560x1440 pixels, which is more than most 27-inch monitors. You can comfortably fit two Safari windows alongside one another, or even a narrow Twitter client, such as Tweetie, Mail or a web page.

The display has in-plane switching (IPS) as well, so colours remain bright and vivid even at tight viewing angles. The picture is bright and pinsharp – text looks fantastic and you can see every detail in a photo.

Gradients display well too and there's a clear distinction between 0% and 5% black, as there is between 95% and 100%. Colour gradient bars are smooth, although single-colour consistency isn't as good as we'd hoped for a display of this price.

We noticed a slightly darker area along the bottom of the panel, especially with the blue pixels. And with the display showing all-black, it looked noticeably lighter towards the bottom. While this happens with most displays and is dependent on your viewing angle, with the Cinema Display sitting normally on our desk, the lighter lower area felt more pronounced.

And, lest we forget, the screen is glossy. This means the picture looks stunning, but you do get a fair amount of reflection. The solution is to try to position it where you won't get light shining on it, but this won't always be possible, so keep this in mind, especially if you intend to do a lot of graphics work.

It would have been nice to see Apple offer an antiglare surface, like it does with the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

As for other features, it's got an iSight camera, mic, three powered USB ports and built-in speakers. And we were impressed by the sound system, which sounded deep, thanks to the built-in sub-woofer.

All this connects to your Mac via a single cable with three connectors on the end - USB, MagSafe power adapter for MacBooks and a Mini DisplayPort. This means it'll work with most Macs from 2009 or later, including the whole current range.

But if you're looking to upgrade your monitor and your Mac doesn't have a Mini DisplayPort, you should look elsewhere – getting a converter is costly. The wire's also very short and can't be swapped out for a longer one, so if your Mac Pro tower is under your desk, you may have to fork out for extensions.

Height and cost

But our two biggest complaints? First, the height of the display: it stands slightly lower than the 27-inch iMac and isn't height-adjustable – we had to use a monitor stand (or a stack of books) to make it ergonomically comfortable, which rather spoils the whole look.

Second, there's the little matter of price. £899 is a serious amount of money for a display, especially when you can pick up a decent 27-inch LED display for under £400, though admittedly with fewer pixels.

But we'll leave you with this little nugget: at the time of writing, there was a 27-inch iMac on the Apple Refurb Store for £1,169 – so at just £270 more, you could bag a fully fledged computer instead.

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