Name: CinemaView 24
It's still a bit of a mystery as to why Apple switched out its DisplayPorts for Mini DisplayPorts. Sure the latter has a smaller footprint, but it doesn't support audio and, up until now, there's only been one compatible screen. While buying an adapter that allows your Mac to plug into a DVI or standard DisplayPort monitor is a good alternative, wouldn't it be nice to avoid adapters all while not breaking the bank?
The CinemaView 24 is the first non-Apple display to use a Mini DisplayPort connector. CinemaView was kind enough to let me test out this Apple alternative over the past two months, and while it doesn't feature some of the LED Cinema Display's extras, it's comparable in performance and costs almost half the price.
From the outside the CinemaView and Apple LED Cinema Display look almost identical. On the inside they're also pretty similar -- 16.7 million colors, 330 cd/m2 brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio -- but the CinemaView doesn't offer some of the perks the LED Cinema does. Whether or not those extra perks are worth the extra $400 is up to you.
CinemaView 24 vs. LED Cinema Display
- 1920×1080 vs. 1920×1200
- 170° horizontal and 160° vertical viewing angle vs. 178° horizontal and vertical
- 4 CCFL backlights vs. LED backlit screen
- 4 USB ports vs. 3 USB ports
- none vs. built-in iSight camera
- none vs. 2.1 speaker system
- $500 vs. $900
One of the big feats of Apple's LED Cinema Display is its three-way plug featuring a Mini DisplayPort, Magsafe power connector, and a USB 2.0 cable. Unfortunately, the Magsafe connector is Apple proprietary tech, so CinemaView wasn't able to integrate it into its own monitor. It does feature the other two plugs, of which the USB connector gives you access to four more USB ports on the back of the monitor. This was incredibly helpful since my Skype phone, camera cord, and keyboard are all USB powered.
The CinemaView 24 was supposed to have brightness and contrast keyboard control, but it turns out that Apple aggressively protects its keycode protocols and refuses to legally release them to anybody outside of Apple. That means the default brightness and contrast settings, plus the downloadable color calibration profile CinemaView offers on their site, are what you're stuck with. I found the settings perfectly suitable during the day, but I did miss having that dimmer key in the evening. That 24-inch screen can get mighty bright when ambient light goes dark.
The screen itself is sharp and glossy, and much like its competitor, that extra gloss can be distracting if you've got a bright room. If I angle the monitor just so, I can see everything in front of it -- including my sleepy face. Angle it away from the light though and you won't have a problem.
What's shown on the screen itself is bright, detailed and sharp, though my husband, who works on an iMac, felt as if the onscreen text was a wee bit fuzzy in comparison to his iMac's screen. It didn't bother me, though I'll tell you something that did. For weeks after powering on the screen it had a new gadget smell. The smell can only be described as warm plastic. It did go away, but it took weeks.
The CinemaView doesn't have a built-in webcam or speakers. While I didn't miss either (my MacBook has both) I could see how those of you using a Mac Mini may. Also, I know my MacBook's itty bitty speakers don't compare to the 2.1 speakers in the iMac, but for the money you're saving why not buy a pair of decent computer speakers or set up your Airport to do AirTunes?
Solid display with beautiful design aesthetics that match MacBooks and Mac Minis without the terrifying Apple pricing.
Cons: Can't control brightness, prolonged new gadget smells.
Apartment Therapy Media/Unplggd makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.