Apple LED Cinema Display review

Price when reviewed

If you’re looking for a compact, affordable monitor, Apple’s latest Cinema Display isn’t it. Replacing the 24in and 30in monitors in Apple’s line-up, the huge 27in model looks remarkably like an iMac on a diet, and comes with a glossy 2,560 x 1,440 panel.

Apple LED Cinema Display review

Lug it onto a desk and a few things are immediately apparent. It may be big, but it’s also very attractive. It keeps its enviable figure thanks to the use of LED backlighting, and the matte aluminium frame and glossy black bezel give it a style nothing else we’ve seen can match.

It’s also more consumer-focused than your average high-end monitor. An iSight webcam nestles discreetly in the top bezel, and there’s a three-port USB hub and 2.1 speakers. While they can’t match a good external set, their 49W of combined power provides the volume and clarity to make movies and music perfectly listenable in a living room. The webcam and inbuilt microphone deliver fine images and audio quality, too.

As is often the case with Apple hardware, the minimalist design proves limiting. The stand only tilts, and there’s a single captive cable sprouting from the rear, terminating with Mini-DisplayPort, USB and a MagSafe connector for directly charging an Apple laptop. If you’re hoping to use the Cinema Display with older Apple hardware, or a PC for that matter, you’ll need to invest in third-party adapters. The cable is also way too short; if your computer is under your desk, it just won’t reach.

And in Apple’s quest for simplicity of operation, there are no onscreen displays or menus of any kind. If you need to adjust brightness, you’d better be using a Mac: there’s no PC software provided to allow for any adjustment. A quick Google search will find you a relatively straightforward Boot Camp-related workaround, but Apple could have included a driver CD.

Apple LED Cinema Display

Thankfully, image quality tests with our X-Rite i1D2 colorimeter proved that most people will have very little desire to tinker with the Apple’s performance. With a Gamma of 2.2, a colour temperature of 6,503k and a brightness reading of 118cd/m2, the Cinema Display comes right out of the box requiring little, if any, adjustment. Colour accuracy is pretty good, too. An average Delta E of 2.2 puts it a whisker in front of the Dell UltraSharp U2711; it’s accurate enough for all but the most colour-critical of users.

Again, though, it’s not perfect. Raising the screen brightness to its maximum setting delivered an impressive 421cd/m2 luminance reading, but also caused the colour temperature to soar to 7,000k and raised the average Delta E to 2.7. Other concerns arose on examination of the black level and white saturation tests on the darkest greys were barely distinguishable from black, while the lightest greys suffered from a noticeable red tint.

The IPS panel gives wide viewing angles, but the glossy, reflective finish is another potentially divisive issue. Still, if it came to a choice between that gloss and the grainy anti-glare coating of the Dell, we’d probably lean towards the Apple.

Professionals may take umbrage at the lack of adjustability, but as a high-quality TFT for Apple users, the Cinema Display retains some appeal. Good image quality, great looks and some rare strong speakers all combine to make the £899 asking price look almost reasonable. However, when you can get the higher-resolution, larger and near-flawless HP ZR30W for just £100 more, PC users should think twice before blowing their budget.


Image quality 4

Main specifications

Screen size 27.0in
Aspect ratio 16:9
Resolution 2560 x 1440
Screen brightness 375cd/m2
Pixel response time 12ms
Contrast ratio 1,000:1
Dynamic contrast ratio N/A
Pixel pitch 0.233mm
Horizontal viewing angle 178 degrees
Vertical viewing angle 178 degrees
Speaker type 2.1
Speaker power ouput 49W
TV tuner no
TV tuner type N/A


DVI inputs 0
VGA inputs 0
HDMI inputs 0
DisplayPort inputs 1
Scart inputs 0
HDCP support yes
Upstream USB ports 1
USB ports (downstream) 3
3.5mm audio input jacks 0
Headphone output no
Other audio connectors none

Accessories supplied

Other cables supplied N/A
Internal power supply yes

Power consumption

Peak power consumption 148W
Idle power consumption 1W

Image adjustments

Brightness control? yes
Contrast control? no
Colour temperature settings none
Extra adjustments none


Forward tilt angle 0 degrees
Backward tilt angle 25 degrees
Swivel angle 0 degrees
Height adjustment 0mm
Pivot (portrait) mode? no


Dimensions 650 x 207 x 491mm (WDH)
Weight 10.700kg

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