The Experience

I’ve been using a 30-inch for nearly as long as they’ve been around in the consumer market. And I went the multi-monitor route before then. I find that I’ve got enough windows open that need interacting with to fill up a single 2560-pixel wide desktop pretty well, but move to two smaller panels and my desktop usage just isn’t as efficient. I end up having one monitor that’s largely unused except for a couple of applications and another monitor that feels way too cramped. Balancing between the two just never worked well for me, so a single high resolution display made the most sense.

The problem with the 30 is that it’s just huge. It’s got an awesome resolution but I find that it’s more of a pain while gaming, particularly in first person shooters. I end up sitting too close and the display is almost too big.

Moving to the 27-inch panel I noticed several things. The display is much more compact. It doesn’t feel too small, and it doesn’t feel too big. Dare I say it’s just right. The change in aspect ratio is strange but not a deal breaker. Admittedly I wasn’t doing too much with the extra 140 lines of resolution I had on the 30” display.

The display feels a bit sharper than my old 30. The pixel density has gone up 8% from ~101 PPI to ~109 PPI. If you felt text was too small on a 30-inch panel, things aren’t going to get any better here. As a side effect of the display physically being smaller, I can actually sit closer to it than I could with the 30-incher without feeling like I’m being totally overwhelmed by panel.

Viewing angles are great. The IPS panel works its magic as well as you’d expect.

The backlight honestly takes the most getting used to. My 30-inch display is the original Apple Cinema HD display from 2004 and it used a CCFL backlight. The white LED backlit 27-inch panel just seems too cool, even when properly calibrated. The whites are very bright, but they feel a bit too harsh for me. If I dim the display then the rest of the colors get too dim as a result, I can’t seem to find a happy medium. I hear the situation is near perfect with RGB LEDs but Apple and most other manufacturers still use WLEDs for their backlights. You’ll see the impact this has on color gamut later on in the review. I spend most of my time in front of a CCFL backlit screen, but if you’re used to something LED backlit it’ll be a less of a shock.

I feel like there are two significant features missing that ultimately prevent this from being a truly great monitor: a RGB LED backlight and 120Hz support. The former makes the shift from a CCFL backlit LCD more of a tradeoff. The latter is just wishful thinking at this point honestly, but after Brian’s experience with the ASUS 120Hz panel I want it.

The rest of the package works relatively well. I’m happy with the webcam image quality and the integrated mic seems to work well. I love the convenience of the integrated MagSafe power connector and mini DisplayPort is a nicely compact interface, unfortunately these two features only matter if you happen to have a notebook that can take advantage of them.

The New Cinema Display Color Quality
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  • Razorjackman - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Why are all the displays from 24" and below relatively inexpensive, while the +27" seem to be disproportionately expensive?

    I'm still using a HannsG 28" from 2 years ago for $400.00. I expected to get larger or denser for less by now.

    Does Moores Law apply to monitors?
    Reply
  • B3an - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Because theres loads of cheap crappy TN panels in displays 24" and under, which i'd never even consider buying. Most old cheap CRT monitors would have better colours.

    When you move to 27" and especially 30" you start getting some quality IPS panels.
    You dont just get a larger display with more pixels, you get a vastly better image too.
    Reply
  • B3an - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    ... You also get better viewing angles as well. Reply
  • Alexstarfire - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    True, but they were saying even the IPS panels for the 24" were $539 and up. Says so on the first page. A near doubling in price for an extra 3 inches isn't very compelling. Though, I don't know if the two 27" monitors they talk about are the cheapest for 27" monitors. Reply
  • hughlle - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    Partly to do with who they are aimed at i guess. A lot of the folk opting for these high end 30" displays as opposed to just whacking an LCD tv on their desk, are using it for high end audio, graphic design etc, professional use you might say, so can be expected to spend the premium. Reply
  • TegiriNenashi - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    I'd suggest there is a category between high end 30" and mainstream 24". There is something wrong with the market when 24" TN is <$250 and 30" IPS is >$1000 and there is nothing in-between. Reply
  • juncture - Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - link

    These people also forgot to mention the HUGE difference being the resolution.... Try to find a 24" that has the same resolution as the $1000+ 27"-30". How was this not mentioned in this argument? Reply
  • plonk420 - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    seconded .. it's either crap dirt cheap TNs for me ... or IPS (but preferrably oLED). i hope i never spend more than $140 on a TN again...

    (posting from a dying CRT ... with TN+Dell *VA as secondary)
    Reply
  • plonk420 - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    seconded @B3an Reply
  • Targon - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - link

    It has to do with yields and the production costs. It is far easier to make a PERFECT four inch display than an eight inch display, just because there is a smaller chance of dead or stuck pixels. As the size of the screen goes up, it just becomes that much harder to make a display without any problems.

    As time has gone on, with the older technologies, it has gotten easier to make larger panels that don't have problems, but now we are seeing newer technologies that raise the difficulty again.

    When you got that 28 inch display, was that a 1080p or 1080i, or 720p? These days, the LED technologies are where a lot of the focus is. Then you have the move from 60Hz to 120Hz to 240Hz. 3D is also creeping in as something that will push costs up.

    Two years ago, the cost of a 23 inch panel was MUCH higher than it is today, and you are seeing displays that could not do 1080p going away. So, now that 1080p is the norm for flat panel displays, the question is when better displays will become the norm on the desktop.

    We also have a problem with what integrated video can handle. The Radeon 3300 integrated video for example will handle 1280x1024 decently, but starts to have a bit of a problem at 1920x1080 when it comes to basic games and such. So, before the mainstream consumer can make decent use of higher resolution displays, the base level for GPUs needs to go up by a bit more to make the experience properly "smooth".

    Remember, prices come down when the manufacturers can expect high enough sales volumes to allow the drop in price to still provide a good profit. So, how many 1920x1200 displays would sell at $300 compared to 1920x1080 displays selling at $210? How about going up from there, would the general public pay for a higher quality display if their computer couldn't push the pixels well enough at the higher resolutions? Even on the gamer front, would you be willing to pay $400 for a 23 inch display with a higher resolution since the higher resolution means lower framerates?
    Reply

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