Apple LED Cinema Display (27-inch review: Apple LED Cinema Display (27-inch

Movies: We tested the 27-inch Apple LED Cinema Display using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." Movies had an impressively low black level and no noticeable color tint problems. Colors were accurate without looking drab.

Games: Because of our intimate familiarity with World of Warcraft (WoW), it remains the best tool for judging color quality and vibrancy in games. WoW had a vibrancy and level of color saturation seen only on a few monitors before, for example the Dell UltraSharp U2711 and Samsung PX2370.

Sound: The built-in 2.1 speakers deliver powerful, deep, bassy sound that excelled when playing music and action scenes in movies and games; dialogue was easy to hear as well.

Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing the colors as the manufacturer intended them. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on its panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when they are not viewed from optimal angles. On the other hand, IPS panels usually show only minimal color shifts with angle changes. The 27-inch LED Cinema Display has an H-IPS panel, and when it's viewed from the sides, we perceived the screen to darken about 15 inches off from center, which is more than twice as wide of a viewing angle as a typical TN panel has.

Recommended settings and use: The 27-inch Apple LED Cinema Display was designed as a large screen, specifically for your Apple MacBook or desktop. It isn't intended to function with a PC, and without some sort of adapter, will not do so. As such, the display works wonderfully with a MacBook, extending its USB slots by three and even removing the need to ever plug in the MacBook via its own power cord at home. As long as the display is plugged in, and its power prong plugged into the MacBook, your MacBook battery will be charged.

A MacBook also fits very neatly under the monitor when the lid is closed; however, with the lid open, it is a bit awkward to look over your MacBook lid to see the bottom of your monitor screen. This is where screen height adjustment would have been useful. This almost necessitates the need of an external keyboard.

We preferred the default display settings for most tasks with a few exceptions. In both OSes, movies looked best with the brightness turned down to about 38 percent. In Windows 7, taking the contrast down to about the same level worked best as well. In OS X, using the Display Calibrator Assistant, adjusting each of the five vertical sliders to about the same level (about an eight of an inch below the midpoint) was the best contrast level for movies.

The Apple LED Cinema Display's H-IPS screen offers some of the most accurate color we've seen, and its screen coating means images have smoothness unmatched by the Dell UltraSharp U2711. Graphic designers working on Mac (as most of you do) will be pleased with the monitor's default performance, but may be dissatisfied with the lack of detailed screen-customization options. The options offered in the Display Calibrator Assistant are useful, but they may not be granular enough for serious designers.

Power consumption: Editors' note: All power consumption tests were conducted while not charging a MacBook.

The 27-inch Apple LED Cinema Display achieved poor power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 93.07 watts, compared with the Dell UltraSharp U2711's 93.72 watts in the same test. In our Sleep/Standby test, the Apple monitor draws 2.9 watts when running Windows 7 and 23.94 watts running Snow Leopard; however, when we completely unplugged the display from the MacBook, it drew only 1.2 watts in Snow Leopard. The U2711 had a 1.19-watt draw in the same test. With both monitors' center point calibrated to 200 candelas per square meter (cd/M2), the Apple monitor drew 59.8 watts, whereas the U2711 drew a much higher 81.8 watts; this indicates that per cd/m2, the 27-inch Apple LED Cinema Display draws less power than the Dell UltraSharp U2711. Based on our formula, the 27-inch Apple LED Cinema Display would cost $43.82 per year if running Snow Leopard and $29.78 while running in Windows 7. If somehow you completely unplugged your MacBook from the display every time it went into sleep mode, you're looking at a yearly price of $28.60. This is compared with the Dell UltraSharp U2711's $28.78 per year.

Juice box
Apple LED Cinema Display (27-inch, 2010) Average watts per hour
On (default luminance) 93.07
On (max luminance) 93.07
On (min luminance) 23.94
Sleep 23.07
Calibrated (200 cd/m2) 59.8
Annual power consumption cost $43.82 (OS X)
Annual power consumption cost $29.78 (Windows)
Score Poor

Brightness (in cd/m2)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Apple LED Cinema Display (27-inch, 2010)
361 

Contrast ratio
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Apple LED Cinema Display (27-inch, 2010)
977:1 

DisplayMate tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Apple LED Cinema Display (27-inch, 2010)
97:1 

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
Nearly two years since the release of the 24-inch LED Cinema Display, Apple continues with its frustratingly strange customer support, that, since we've become so accustomed to it, isn't all that strange anymore. It backs the 27-inch LED Cinema Display with a one-year limited warranty that covers the backlight, but only includes 90 days of toll-free telephone support. With the purchase of a $249 AppleCare package, the warranty is extended to three years from the date of purchase, which seems almost like a necessity given the proprietary nature of the display.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Apple LED Cinema Display (27-inch, 2010)

Part Number: MC007LL/A
MSRP: $999.00 Low Price: $799.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Display Type LED-backlit LCD monitor / TFT active matrix
  • Interface Mini DisplayPort
  • Diagonal Size 27 in
  • Image Contrast Ratio 1000:1
  • Image Aspect Ratio 16:9
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