Price: £2,599 plus VAT
Straddling the top of Apple’s monitor range, the 23-inch widescreen Cinema HD Display is part of the company’s strategy to enter the mid-range postproduction market (alongside Final Cut Pro add-ons such as Cinema Tools as Pinnacle’s CinéWave HD card). However, this monitor is an excellent choice for any creative who needs that much screen real estate – as it can work with everything from two pages of A4 to intricate 3D models. The HD part of the name is a bit of a misnomer. The 1,920-x-1,200 resolution of this monitor is more than enough to include the 1,920-x-1,080 resolution of HD format video (the high-resolution video spec that is supposed to be the next generation television format but which is having trouble taking off in the US, though it’s used for much television production work). It’s unlikely, though, that anyone working with HD would use this monitor for output, as they’d use either a HDTV set or a proper HDTV output monitor (such as Sony’s BVM-D24 E1WE). It’s possible though, as even at £2,599 this monitor is cheaper than many HDTV sets (which start at around £1,700) and much less expensive than output monitors (the Sony unit costs £12,715), though it can’t match the broadcast colour accuracy. HD playback, using test stock footage from Artbeats (www.artbeats.com), was very impressive. This Cinema Display is a conventional LCD monitor on a huge scale, though for what it delivers it’s much more than conventional and not too large. The two foot wide case will take up most of your desk, but it’s slender enough to sit at the back, far enough away to work with properly. The ADC connector is good for keeping your wires tidy, and the USB hub in the back makes it easier to hide your G4 under your desk. Most of all though, this Cinema Display offers a great, bright picture with pin sharp detail – and is fast enough even to keep up with properly interlaced video. This monitor stands up well against its competition. Viewsonic’s 23.1-inch VP230mb takes up less desk space (due to a 4:3 screen) but only has a resolution of 1,600-x-1,200 and costs almost as much as this unit (around £2,400). Sony’s 24-inch FW900 CRT matches this model’s resolution and only costs £1,449, but sits in a huge case. The usual CRT vs LCD, colour clarity vs truly flat screen/crisp detail arguments, as yet unresolved, can also be inserted here. If you need the space and can justify the cost (and use a Mac), there’s nothing better on the market.