Towards the end of 2008, Apple unveiled remodelled laptops and added a 24-inch LED monitor to its Cinema Display offerings. Sadly, the new display is geared specifically for Apple’s revamped MacBook (Air included) and MacBook Pro laptop lines – systems with a Mini DisplayPort. So, basically, those with Mac Pros who have been waiting years for a new display can’t get one because it’s only compatible – natively at least – with laptops (some nonsense about Mini DisplayPort incompatibility). Recognising that more than 70% of all Macs sold are now laptops, the company has obviously decided to create something a little special just for this sizable chunk of its customer base.
Apple’s latest display (Best Current Price: £582) features a 24-inch LED-backlit widescreen display with built-in iSight video camera, mono microphone and stereo speakers (hidden below the screen’s bottom edge, supplemented by a rear-facing bass speaker on the back of the panel) in an elegant, thin aluminium and glass enclosure. The LED Cinema Display (573×478×197mm, 9.5kg) also includes an integrated MagSafe charger, three USB 2.0 ports and the new Mini DisplayPort, making it easy for MacBook users to quickly connect and power their laptops as well as use their favourite peripherals. For number crunchers out there, the display has run-of-the-mill specifications: 16.7 million colours, a 1000:1 specified contrast ratio and a brightness of 330cd/m2.
The company said the new LED Cinema Display is the most advanced display it has ever made. It certainly is sweet, and makes a perfect fit for Apple’s sleek new line of aluminium MacBooks with its matching bezel and glass enclosure. The display boasts a native widescreen resolution of 1920×1200 and uses LED-backlit technology with improved power efficiency. Suspended by an aluminium stand with an adjustable hinge that makes tilting the display almost effortless, the display’s iSight video camera makes it a good choice for video conferencing with iChat. Furthermore, the inclusion of three self-powered USB 2.0 ports means you can leave your printer, camera, iPhone 3G or iPod dock connected when you take your MacBook on walkabouts. The LED Cinema Display won’t have problems playing any HDCP-encrypted videos either, whether they come from the iTunes Store or not, but no adapters exist to convert HDMI to Mini DisplayPort.
The 24-incher is not only one of Apple’s most technically advanced displays to date, but it’s also the greenest Apple display ever thanks to mercury-free LED technology, arsenic-free glass and highly recyclable materials. The LED Cinema Display also meets stringent Energy Star 4.0 requirements and achieves EPEAT Gold status. The new display contains no brominated flame retardants, all internal cables and components are PVC-free and its foam packaging has been reduced by 44%.
That’s where the backslapping ends. Part of the next-generation DisplayPort industry standard, the new Mini DisplayPort is guaranteed to annoy owners of Apple desktop machines. The Mini DisplayPort is a miniaturised version of the DisplayPort used by Apple, first publicly announced on October 14, 2008. Unlike its Mini-DVI and Micro-DVI predecessors, the Mini DisplayPort is capable of driving resolutions up to 2560×1600, commonly used with 30-inch displays. Sadly, you’ll need to use an adapter with older generation VGA, DVI/HDMI and Dual-Link DVI displays. Apple’s decision to remove the DVI port from the MacBook Pro in favour of Mini DisplayPort, and to offer Mini DisplayPort as the only video connector for the new 24-inch Cinema Display, has raised compatibility concerns. While the Mini DisplayPort can be licensed from Apple for free, Apple is currently the only vendor for adapter cables. Kerching!
Major beefs of the LED Cinema Display are the compatibility-restricting Mini DisplayPort and the glossy display, which most argue is good for magazine covers and checking your make up, but not so good for general purpose computing. A totally unforgiving flaw is that the stand only allows you to tilt the display, so you can’t swivel it or adjust its height – get ready to shove books, reams of paper, or inelegant risers underneath. The display has no control buttons on it either, but a brightness slider is available from your Mac keyboard. Changing anything else requires squinting your way through the calibration process on your machine. The jury is still out on the new display in terms of whether it can be used as a professional display, but even if it is not, the new 24-inch Cinema Display produces a great looking image for general computing and multimedia. It’ll also match your MacBook Pro beautifully.