If you're a fan of the 27in Apple iMac, but don't want to give up the portability of your MacBook Pro or expandability of your Mac Pro, Apple thinks you'll love its 27in LED Cinema Display. The display is essentially a 27in iMac without the computer, matching closely that popular iMac's display in both specifications and design.
Aside from the few inches of aluminium found on the bottom the screen of the iMac, the Apple 27in LED Cinema Display looks nearly identical, sharing the same flat aluminium stand, black border, curved corners and edge-to-edge glossy glass cover. Like the iMac, the display has built-in speakers and an iSight camera.
The Apple 27in LED Cinema Display lacks many ergonomic adjustment abilities, offering no way to raise or lower the display, or to rotate into a portrait mode. The display can tilt forward and back, but that's about it. A VESA mount (£35) is sold separately, allowing you to remove the stand and mount it on a wall or a more ergonomic stand. OS X's Displays Preferences recognises the LED Cinema Display and offers standard or 90, 180, 270 degree rotation options.
Apple 27in LED Cinema Display: Specifications
Also identical to the iMac are many of the Apple 27in LED Cinema Display's specs. Both use an IPS panel with LED backlight, 2560x1440 resolution, 178-degree viewing angle, 375cd/m2 brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio and 16.7 million colours. It's worth noting that many professional-class displays have moved to 10bit panels offering billions of colours.
On the back of the Apple 27in LED Cinema Display are three USB 2.0 ports, a Kensington lock slot and connectors for power, as well as a captive cable with a three-headed multi-plug with Mini DisplayPort, USB 2.0 and Magsafe power connections. Although adaptors for connecting Mini DisplayPort monitors to DVI-equipped Macs exist, Apple doesn't officially support using the LED Cinema Display on anything but Mini DisplayPort Macs running 10.6.4 or later. It should work with your older system using an adaptor, but if you run into a problem, you're on your own.
The Apple 27in LED Cinema Display has no buttons. To adjust brightness, you can use the buttons on your Apple keyboard or open the Displays System Preferences pane and move a slider there. You can also turn on or off the ambient light adjustment through Displays Preferences. Other controls, like colour temperature and target gamma, can be accessed through this menu by clicking on the Color button and clicking the Calibrate button. I'm not a big fan of the "squint-and-try-to-make-the-Apple-logo-blend-into-the-background" calibration scheme that is still in use with the Mac, and colour professionals will probably prefer a display with greater control over individual colour settings.
We looked at the Apple 27in LED Cinema Display side-by-side with an iMac, as well as with some higher-end displays. Using straight out of the box settings, the display is bright but not overblown, with very pleasing colours. Photos looked great, with the glossy screen adding depth to dark areas of the image. With our test unit, we didn't find any uniformity issues, dead or stuck pixels, or light leakage problems.
The whites and greys on the Apple 27in LED Cinema Display were a bit bluish at default settings. Using a Datacolor Spyder3Elite, we calibrated the display to 100cd/m2 and 6,500 degrees Kelvin, and achieved more neutral greys; it also helped bring out a little more of the shadow details in our test photo. The display's viewing angle was very good, with little loss of contrast or shifting of colours when moving either up or down, or left to right of centre.
Of course, since the Apple 27in LED Cinema Display has a glass front, glare can be an issue with the display. We found that glare could indeed be distracting on such a large display. We did side-by-side testing in a windowless room, however, and didn't have any issues there.
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