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

The Apple LED Cinema Display impressed us the most in its color reproduction and contrast results. In our Extreme Grayscale Bars and Intensity and Grayscale tests, the display scored higher than any previous display we've tested. In these tests, the display was able to produce pure white as well as very light grays--a challenging feat for most displays, but the Cinema Display does it nearly perfectly. On the same token, it was able to display near true black while showing very dark grays. Also, it reproduced the grayscale (the shades of gray between black and white) accurately without any signs of other colors. This indicates that it does not have any color-tracking errors.

The display performed perfectly in most of our color tests, as well. Apple LED Cinema Display was able to scale dark shades of specific colors into lighter shades of the same color without compressing the shades in between. This indicates a very accurate representation of color all around.

The display continued to impress in our Uniformity and Screen tests, stumbling only in our Dark Screen test. During this test, we noticed that backlight bleed through is very apparent along the bottom and top edges of the screen on a dark screen showing all black.

We tried out our usual test movie, Kill Bill Vol. 1, and saw deep blacks and full colors. The yellow in the bride's jumpsuit was particularly impressive, with an accurate and deep yellow that did not bleed or show signs of other colors. World of Warcraft looked as good as we've ever seen it on any display, with vibrant colors and an impressive contrast ratio that makes the polygonal characters look full and three dimensional. We found that the display was best for movies and games when its color temperature was set to 6,500K and its brightness was set at 75 percent of its maximum.

While other displays, such as the Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP, use cold-cathode florescent tube-based backlights, the Apple LED Cinema Display uses a light-emitting diode backlight. So instead of having several florescent tubes stretched horizontally across the screen, there are many individual LEDs all over the screen that can each be turned off or on. This gives LED displays more precise control over the amount of light coming through the screen. Other advantages include better energy efficiency, more accurate and precise color reproduction, a potentially thinner panel design, and a higher potential brightness level.

When viewing the monitor from above, below, or the side of its optimal viewing angle, we noticed gamma problems in the form of shadows along the bottom of the screen. The gamma problems are not as bad as on the Lenovo ThinkVision L2440x, where details on the screen can almost not be seen when viewed from the wrong angle, but Apple's panel's performance was not as good as the Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP, which lacked any gamma problems from off angles.

We were very impressed by the built-in speakers; the sound was loud when taken up to its maximum output, and showed no signs of distortion. The bass is deep and the quality is clear and full. These are some of the best speakers we've ever heard on a monitor.

Service and support
Apple continues with its frustratingly strange customer support. It backs the 24-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 the display was purchased, which seems almost like a necessity given the proprietary nature of the display.