By Neil Bennett | on January 12, 2009
Pros: Great looks; provides power to Mac laptops too.
Cons: Poor output quality; works only with latest Mac laptops.
At first glance, the release of the LED Cinema Display seems like a positive step for Apple as a monitor manufacturer. Following the addition of well-received LED screens to its laptops, the Mac maker’s first desktop display boasts great styling (as you’d expect) and some innovative functions. However, it’s wholly unsuited to the needs of creative professionals.
The 24-inch LED Cinema Display isn’t a replacement for the now-defunct 23-inch Cinema Display. It’s aimed purely at owners of Apple’s latest MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro laptops (including the just announced 17-inch model), as its only input is a Mini DisplayPort.
Owners of other laptops (including older Mac laptops) are left out, as are those working on desktops. We’re not against the principle of a monitor purely for laptop owners – but limiting its use to three models seems pointless.
It’s not even as if Apple is taking advantage of DisplayPort’s capability to output 10-bit per colour video, as seen with Dell’s UltraSharp 2709W and HP’s DreamColor LP2480zx.
The ironic thing about Apple’s use of DisplayPort is that the LED Cinema Display’s output is very poor indeed by professional design standards. The glossy display might make Hollywood movies look great in dimmed lights, but for creative work – whether print, video, animation or interactive – it just provides annoying glare.
We measured the colour gamut using the same process as the monitors in our recent group test of pro-level monitors, and found Apple’s display to have a far smaller gamut than any other LED monitor we’ve looked at. It would be unimpressive on an inexpensive LCD display too. Colour depth and accuracy were also mediocre.
One nifty feature aimed at Mac laptops users is the inclusion of a MagSafe connector (as Apple’s calls its innovative magnetic power cable that’s designed to stop you kicking your laptop onto the floor if you catch your foot on the lead), so you can leave your power cable in your bag.
This would be great for owners of older Mac laptops too, if the choice of connector didn’t prevent you from using this Cinema Display with them.
Even if you own a new MacBook Pro and you’ve got around £500 to spend on an LED monitor, we’d recommend that you buy Dell’s £499 plus VAT UltraSharp 2709W instead of this disappointing display – though many print designers and illustrators will need to pay significantly more for a display that’s up to their standards.