Apple 27in LED Cinema Display

James Galbraith
4 November, 2010
View more articles fromthe author

Apple 27in LED Cinema Display



Magsafe connector to charge Mac portables; built-in speakers and iSight


Limited adjustment options; no height or pivot adjustment; glossy screen is prone to glare; Apple doesn’t officially support using the LED Cinema Display on anything but Mini DisplayPort



If you’re a fan of the 27in iMac, but don’t want to give up the portability of your MacBook Pro or expandability of your Mac Pro, Apple thinks you’ll love its new 27in LED Cinema Display. The display is basically a 27in iMac without the computer, matching closely that popular iMac’s display in both specifications and design.

Aside from the few inches of aluminium found on the bottom the screen of the iMac, the Cinema Display looks nearly identical, sharing the same flat aluminium stand, black border, curved corners and edge-to-edge glossy glass cover. Like the iMac, the display has built-in speakers and iSight camera.

The Cinema Display lacks many ergonomic adjustment abilities, offering no way to raise or lower the display, or to rotate into a portrait mode. The display can tilt forward and back, but that’s about it. A VESA mount ($50) is sold separately, allowing you to remove the stand and mount it on a wall or a more ergonomic stand. OS X’s Displays Preferences recognises the LED Cinema Display and offers standard or 90, 180, 270 degree rotation options.

Also identical to the iMac are many of the display’s specs. Both use an IPS panel with LED backlight, 2560-by-1440 pixel resolution, 178-degree viewing angle, 375 cd/m2 brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio and 16.7 million colours. Its worth noting that many professional-class displays have moved to 10-bit panels offering billions of colours.

On the back of the display are three USB 2.0 ports, a Kensington lock slot, and connectors for power, as well as a captive cable with a three-headed multi-plug with Mini DisplayPort, USB 2.0, and Magsafe power connections. Although adapters for connecting Mini DisplayPort monitors to DVI-equipped Macs exist, Apple doesn’t officially support using the LED Cinema Display on anything but Mini DisplayPort Macs running 10.6.4 or later. It should work with your older system using an adapter, but if you run into a problem, you’re on your own.

The Cinema Display has no buttons. To adjust brightness, you can use the buttons on your Apple keyboard or open the Displays System Preferences pane and move a slider there. You can also turn on or off the ambient light adjustment through Displays Preferences. Other controls, like colour temperature and target gamma, can be accessed through this menu by clicking on the Color button and clicking the Calibrate button. I’m not a big fan of the “squint-and-try-to-make-the-Apple-logo-blend-into-the-background” calibration scheme that is still in use with the Mac, and colour professionals will most likely prefer a display with greater control over individual colours settings.

We looked at the display side-by-side with an iMac, as well as with some higher-end displays. Using straight out of the box settings, the display is bright but not overblown, with very pleasing colours. Photos looked great, with the glossy screen adding depth to dark areas of the image. With our test unit, I didn’t find any uniformity issues, dead or stuck pixels, or light leakage problems.

The whites and greys on the display were a bit bluish at default settings. Using a Datacolor Spyder3Elite, I calibrated the display to 100 cd/m2 and 6500 degrees Kelvin, and achieved more neutral greys; it also helped bring out a little more of the shadow details in our test photo. The display’s viewing angle was very good, with little loss of contrast or shifting of colours when moving either up or down, or left to right of centre.

Of course, since the display has a glass front, glare can be an issue with the display. My workspace is not well suited to a glossy monitor and I found that glare could indeed be distracting on such a large display. I did my side-by-side testing in a windowless room and didn’t have any issues there.

Australian Macworld’s buying advice

Apple’s 27in LED Cinema Display makes a great companion to any Mac that uses a Mini DisplayPort connection, but is especially well suited to Mac portable users who can take advantage of the provided Mag Safe power connector and the display’s USB ports to attach keyboards and other peripherals. Its glossy screen and lack of easily accessible colour and ergonomic adjustments might turn off some users, but for most fans of the Mac aesthetic, this display will fit nicely into both their workflow and their workspace.

One Comment

One person was compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Alan says:

    Your review isn’t entirely uninteresting more so for the fact that you
    write “Its worth noting that many professional-class displays have moved to 10-bit panels offering billions of colours.”

    •Are you alluding to the ideal but not actual reality, that Apple wants you to think that its new display IS powered by a true 10-bit P-IPS LCD panel?
    • Your article fails to mention, if any, proper hardware calibration facility
    and ease of doing so:–
    Please inform us does this monitor have a 10-bit, 12 bit, or even an
    14 bit LUT=look-up table for rigorous and precise colour space emulation.
    • Why doesn’t your magazine manifest such rigor when it does reviews;
    without such facts one would prefer to buy a NEC or HP DreamColor or
    Eizo monitor. These are manufacturers of purpose who properly disclose such pertinent and relevant parameters.
    You must not be unaware that the statement 16.6M colours actually means very little as it’s unqualified.

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us