Apple LED Cinema Display (27" flat panel) review

Apple’s huge, high-resolution 27in monitor blends typically gorgeous design with great image quality, yet we're still not totally enamoured with it. Read on to find out why.

While the Mac user is unlikely to miss the presence of an on-screen adjustment menu - adjusting the speakers' volume and display brightness is managed neatly through the OS X control panel or from the keyboard - PC users are left high and dry since Apple doesn't supply any software for Windows users. Adjusting either brightness or volume under Windows requires a copy of Apple's Boot Camp drivers which are usually designed for allowing Macs to run Windows. Without them on our PC test rig, we were stuck with brightness set to its default, and the speakers only reached half the volume they were capable of on the Mac.

There's no question about the image quality, though, and straight out of the box, the Cinema Display needs little if any adjustment. We measured the default brightness at 118cd/m2, which is perfect for use in average lighting conditions. And while some will bemoan the absent on-screen menus, the Cinema Display arrives calibrated to an almost perfect colour temperature of 6,503k and an ideal gamma of 2.2. Again, MacOS X users can adjust both using utilities built into Apple's operating system, while Windows users are left to fend for themselves.

Overall, image quality is very good indeed, and it passed our subjective tests with flying colours. The Apple's H-IPS panel delivers wide viewing angles, a measured contrast ratio of 987:1 and colour reproduction that strikes a good balance between accuracy and pleasing vibrancy. Black levels are good, too, and the combination of a wide contrast ratio, fine colour accuracy and a glossy screen finish make for image quality that's competitive with its closest rival, Dell's UltraSharp U2711.

Those built-in speakers also provide sound quality that's excellent by monitor standards, with ample volume and clarity to enjoy music and movies. The iSight camera and matching microphone array also deliver good image quality and crisp speech. Bear in mind, though, that these are simply convenient, and both are easily bettered by even modest after-market alternatives.

Verdict

The LED Cinema Display aims to deliver high-end image quality with minimal fuss, and it largely succeeds in doing so. Indeed, for well-off Apple users who want excellent image quality, but don't wish to contend with the usual variety of colour-tweaking options - nor battle with the vagaries of wide-gamut displays - the Apple LED Cinema Display may prove an attractive, if pricey, option.

However, when the likes of Dell’s UltraSharp U2711 deliver comparable image quality, more video inputs, greater adjustability and a matte screen which is more suitable for professional use, Apple's LED Cinema Display just isn't the Apple-branded professional-class monitor we were hoping for.

Display Size: 27in

Resolution: 2,560 x 1,440

Display technology: H-IPS

Brightness: 375cd/m2

Contrast Ratio: 1000:1

Response time: 12ms

Connections: Mini-DisplayPort, 3 x USB2, 85W MagSafe power connector

Adjustments: Tilt

Dimensions (W x D x H): 650 x 207 x 491mm

Power consumption: up to 250W while charging MacBook Pro, 148W at full brightness (MacBook not attached), 1W standby

Speakers: 49W (2.1)

Security: Kensington lock

VESA mounting: No

Warranty: 1 year Collect and Return or customer carry-in

Part code: MC007B/A

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