Name: Apple LED Cinema Display
Rating: Strong Recommend*
I'm sure right about now, as we near the end of our review unit agreement with Apple, someone in their marketing arm is wondering "where the heck is the review?!". I'll come off clean and admit I've been stalling…stalling as close to the return date as possible for this 24" Apple LED Cinema Display, all so I can maximize my time with this beautiful LED-backlit widescreen display.
Ah, who doesn't love unboxing an Apple product? Here's our trusty Dell display, which pales in so many ways compared to it's shiny new distant cousin, suspiciously eyeing the Apple LED Cinema Display before unpacking. Upon quick glance at the packaging, one realizes this display was specifically designed for MacBook/MacBook Pro users such as myself…a sleek display sidekick for your laptop which makes docking at home easily and clutter free (more about that below).
Here's a side by side comparison between the 24" Apple LED Cinema Display and our current 23" Dell screen. Note how the display bezel beautifully disappears from vision, with only a few millimeters of brushed metal framing around the display. The curved stand supports the display and also provides a perfect spot to rest your keyboard, iPhone or whatever else you need at immediate reach.
Another detail which wowed us upon inspection: a tiny microphone ontop, used for iSight communication (unless you like to video mime chat). Compared to a dime, those are extremely minuscule holes. A built-in iSight camera is also incorporated into the front panel, but you wouldn't want to see me in my current disheveled state right now as I type these words.
Now here's what makes these new Apple LED Cinema Displays the monitors of choice for Apple laptop users: a hydra of connections springing forth from one cable at the rear of the display. A Mini DisplayPort, Magsafe connector and a USB 2.0 cable make docking a laptop a very quick task and free of clutter. Cable management also extends to the rear, where a porthole in the display's curved stand arm directs power and connected USB cables mostly out of sight. Three additional powered USB 2.0 ports are available in the back, alongside a Kensington security slot.
A built-in 2.1 speaker system is a modest step-up from your MacBook's speakers, with a smart system which transfers audio duties from the laptop's puny speakers to the more robust monitor speakers when the USB connector has been connected. The sound was subjectively 50% better than without using monitor's seekers, and they're elegantly hidden away in similar fashion to HDTV displays, situated below and out of sight.
And now to the 24" LED-backlit screen: it's everything they said it would be. Going from a non-LED backlight display to this Cinema Display gave us the impression we had been working with a monitor wrapped in plastic wrap this whole time. Where the Dell screen pushes out flat, moderate contrast images, the Cinema Display appears remarkably crisp and rich. A dimensionality arises from OS X we didn't knew existed before, thanks to excellent contrast between light and darks, and all the subtle transitions in-between. Reading text is easier and our eyes are notably less tired by day's end. The improvement is akin to going from a 720p display to a full 1080p, and for nearly a month, the display has done a convincing job of promoting LED backlighting technology. If you watch movies, work with digital photos or game [chuckle at Mac users], the color uniformity, the 1000:1 contrast ratio, 1920 x 1200 native resolution and 14ms response times should keep you happy.
Now we come to our one notable criticism: the glare. Like our MacBook Pro's display, this sucker is glossier than wet lipstick. We work in a very bright home office and the outdoor light results in reflections so noticeable, we can keep an eye out on our better half in the other room without turning around. Fortunately, something as simple as roller shades solves the issue without too much fuss, and one can become accustomed to the reflections (we have).
Is it worth $899? There are admittedly other LED backlit monitors with similar specs for more affordable prices, as is often the case when comparing Apples to oranges. Like we mentioned, we're using a Dell display at the moment, so even someone who admires Apple's excellent eye for detail and design can't always get what they want. But if you're a MacBook Pro user with the means, don't hesitate. You will not regret splurging a bit for something as remarkably designed and manufactured. We're saving up ourselves now. How could we go willingly go back to plastic wrap vision now we've seen the (LED) light?