Apple LED Cinema Display (24-inch) review: Apple LED Cinema Display (24-inch)

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MSRP: $899.00

The Good Incredible performance in DisplayMate tests; games and movies look great; clean design; good viewing angle; built-in camera and mic; phenomenal sound from built-in speaker.

The Bad Complete lack of connection options that would allow you to connect to a PC or older Mac; dearth of ergonomic features.

The Bottom Line While performance is excellent, the Apple LED Cinema Display's one connection option paints it into a small corner that is welcoming only to newer MacBook owners.

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7.4 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 5
  • Performance 9
  • Support 5

The market for the 24-inch Apple LED Cinema Display is limited. Until third-party adapters are released, the display is only compatible with MacBooks that have Mini DisplayPort connections. And even if you have that, you will pay $900 for a display that can't be used with other devices. It has a beautiful and clean design, great performance with movies and games, phenomenal sound, and a good viewing angle, but the monitor's lack of versatility makes it a product we are reluctant to recommend, even to its target (and only) market. It's a good display to be sure, but until those third-party adapters are released, it's more of a fancy docking station with an excellent-quality screen. If that appeals to you, and if you're an owner of a compatible MacBook, and if $900 seems reasonable, then go for it. For the rest of us, there are many more high-quality monitors out there that are not nearly as limiting in their compatibility. The best of these are the $516 Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP and the $399 Samsung SyncMaster 240HD. Both of these 24-inchers have lower price points, offer comparable performance, and boast many more connection options.

Design and features
The extremely glossy screen was the first thing we noticed about the 24-inch Apple LED Cinema Display. In fact, it's so reflective that it's practically a mirror when the display is off. Upon closer inspection, we noticed what seems to be a sheet of antiglare glass over the screen that slightly blurs out the reflection and extends over the bezel to the very edge of the panel. The panel is about .75 inch thick--a thin measurement for a 24-inch monitor--and approximately 22.5 inches wide, which is normal for a 24-incher. The bezel is about an inch long at the sides and top and 1.5 inches along the bottom. In the middle of the bezel's bottom section, there is a silver Apple logo. Directly above, in the middle of the bezel's top section, is a small lens for the built-in iSight camera.

About an inch above the lens on the top part of the panel, you'll find several small holes for the mic, and all the way on the bottom of the panel there are two built-in speakers. The sides of the panel are encased in a smooth aluminum finish that extends across the backside. In the upper middle section of the rear sits a black, reflective Apple logo, and in the lower left-hand corner are three USB 2.0 downstream ports.

The foot stand measures roughly 7.5 inches deep by 7 inches wide. Despite its narrow appearance, the stand provides enough stability that when the display is knocked from the sides there is minimal wobbling; however, thanks to its smooth aluminum finish, it does slide quite easily. The neck of the foot stand is 11.5 inches high and has a 2-inch diameter hole through it for routing the cables. Unfortunately, you can't rotate, swivel, or pivot the screen, and you can't adjust its height. The only included ergonomic feature is that the panel tilts back 30 degrees.

The display has a 1,920x1,200-pixel native resolution. Extruding from the back is an irremovable cord that splits off into three connections: a USB plug, a MagSafe connector (that will charge your MacBook if the monitor is plugged in), and a Mini DisplayPort connection. There is no DVI, VGA, or even HDMI connection. As we mentioned, this is a monitor for MacBooks (with the Mini DisplayPort connection) and for MacBooks only--at least for the time being.

You can adjust the backlight luminance by going through system preferences. There, you'll also have access to the display's color-temperature settings, where you can adjust it from 4,500K up to 9,300K. Unfortunately, there are no contrast controls.

    Manufacturer's specifications:
  • Resolution: 1,920x1,200
  • Pixel-response rate: 6ms
  • Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
  • Brightness: 330cd/m2
  • Connectivity: Mini DisplayPort
  • HDCP compliant? Yes
  • Included video cables? Mini DisplayPort

We tested the Apple LED Cinema Display via its Mini DisplayPort connection, which connected to a 15-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 4GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce 9400M/9600M GT graphics adapter with 512MB of video memory. With this configuration we are unable to give the display an actual DisplayMate score, as our DisplayMate score is based on a DVI-specific PC configuration with which the Apple LED Cinema Display was not compatible. Also, we used Boot Camp to install Windows XP Pro on the MacBook, because DisplayMate is not compatible with Mac OS. Given the different configurations, it would be unfair to make direct DisplayMate comparisons with the other tested displays, but we can at least discuss the results we got from the tests. Please keep in mind that DisplayPort has a higher video bandwidth than DVI.