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Apple 30in Cinema Display

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The 30in Apple Cinema Display has been around for quite a while, and you’ve probable read plenty of reviews by now. However, I’m willing to bet that the majority, if not all of those reviewers had the screen hooked up to a Mac. When Apple launched this screen last year, nVidia was kind enough to also launch a dual link version of the GeForce 6800 Ultra for use in a G5 Mac. It was the dual link aspect of the card that was most important, because a single link DVI output is limited to 1,920 x 1,200 even using reduced blanking.

With the dual link 6800 Ultra it was possible to drive the 30in Cinema Display digitally at its native resolution of 2,560 x 1,600, making it a superb screen for anyone that needs the ultimate amount of desktop real estate. OK, so the 30in Cinema Display doesn’t offer the ultimate in desktop real estate, that crown is still worn by the ViewSonic VP2290b with its 3,840 x 2,400 resolution, but that screen isn’t really useable for your desktop applications.

So, you’re probably wondering why I’m reviewing a monitor that’s been around for so long - other than the fact that it’s a fantastic bit of kit of course. Well the simple answer is that I was waiting until it was possible to connect the 30in Cinema Display to a standard PC, rather than a G5 Mac, and that day has finally come. I had hoped that I would have been able to write this review a long time ago, since on the same day that Apple announced the 30in Cinema Display, ATI also announced the FireGL v7100 workstation graphics card with dual link capability. Unfortunately, I still haven’t managed to get my hands on this card, but thankfully Matrox came to the rescue.

But before I go into too much detail about the graphics card, let’s cover the Apple screen. I remember when I first put a 23in widescreen display on my desktop, and thinking that it was really huge, but having a 30in screen in front of me is something quite different. You’re going to need a pretty big desk to use this screen, and even then it will still look massive – but now that I’ve had this screen on my desk for a while, I never, ever want to be without it.

Apple has finished the screen with a rounded, brushed aluminium bezel, that accentuates Apple’s minimalist style. There are no buttons or controls on the bezel, just a single Apple logo in the centre at the bottom, and a tiny power light located in the bottom right. Strangely, the power light only illuminates when the screen is being powered on or off, and remains dark most of the time.

The solid, brushed aluminium stand allows for the screen to be tilted, while twisting the whole monitor left and right is surprisingly easy considering its size. Unfortunately, there is no height adjustment, which makes finding the perfect viewing angle a bit tricky. It’s the fact that the screen is so large that makes the lack of height adjustment such an issue – I simply found myself craning my neck every time I tried to look at any windows at the top of the display. I would have rather lowered the panel, since looking slightly down to view stuff at the bottom of the screen, is preferable to craning ones neck to look up.

Despite the problem with adjustability, I can’t help but love this screen – now that I’ve gotten used to a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600, I have no idea how I’ll cope going back to 1,280 x 1,024. I guess I’ll have to get some dual monitor action going. The amount of windows that you can have active at once on this screen is quite phenomenal, and the rest of the TrustedReviews team never seem to tire of telling me that I don’t have quite enough windows open!

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