Apple 30in Cinema Display

Editing images in Photoshop is an absolute joy, since you can open high-resolution images at full size, and get the majority of the picture on the screen while you’re editing it. Cutting and pasting from one document to another is also the simplest of procedures with this much desktop real estate at your disposal, and uploading reviews from Word, into the TrustedReviews database has never been easier.

The only controls on this screen are located on the right side of the chassis, and consist of a power button, and brightness +/- buttons. There is no menu button and no on-screen display. The manual tells you to use System Preferences to adjust the screen further, but since I’m using a PC rather than a Mac, clicking Apple > System Preferences isn’t an option. That said, you’ll be able to adjust the screen just as easily using the Display Properties on a PC, with most graphics card drivers allowing for detailed adjustment these days.

It’s worth remembering that the 30in Cinema Display will only connect via dual link DVI, so there’s no need for a full OSD covering all the analogue adjustments. Despite the large size of this screen, the power supply isn’t integrated – instead there is an external power brick. Of course, since this is Apple, it’s not your average black, ribbed power brick; oh no, this is a glossy white power brick that won’t spoil your IT design statement.

The single, chunky cable that protrudes from the rear of the panel has four plugs on it – one connects to the power brick, one to your dual link graphics card, one to a FireWire port and one to a USB 2.0 port. The latter two plugs are so that you can make use of the two six-pin FireWire ports and two USB 2.0 ports located at the rear of the screen.

Firing up DisplayMate showed that the Cinema Display can produce an image to match its physical good looks. Colour and greyscale graduations are smooth, with little evidence of banding, while the colour scale test showed an even transition from high to low intensity across the entire colour spectrum.

There's no doubt that the Cinema Display will appeal to more users than journalists and image editors, it will also make a fantastic display for a graphics workstation – although you’ll have to get hold of a dual link ATI FireGL card or nVidia Quadro card for that. Meanwhile, Matrox is counting on video editors making use of this display, and it’s not hard to see why.

Of course a product like this is never going to come cheap, especially when there’s an Apple badge attached to it, and although £2,099 is a hell of a lot of money, there isn’t much in the way of alternative products available. If you really want the highest possible (usable) desktop resolution, this is it, and for many, that will be reason enough to shell out two grand.

Basically, the Cinema Display is an awesome screen with a resolution that should keep absolutely anyone happy. The only stumbling block for this screen is the fact that there are so few dual link cards available right now – but of course I guess Apple is expecting it to be used with a Mac via the nVidia 6800 card. What we need to see is dual link support in standard graphics cards, then perhaps we’ll see screens running this kind of resolution from other manufacturers.

Verdict

The 30in Apple Cinema Display really is a fantastic tool for anyone that needs a lot of desktop real estate. For someone like myself it’s a major timesaver, having multiple windows all open and visible at the same time. While for a professional image editor, it gives the benefit of displaying more of a high resolution photo at 100 per cent. The stand could do with height adjustment, but other than that, the design is up to the usual high standard associated with Apple products. Quite simply, if you can afford one of these displays, you should buy one – I for one, will be very sorry to see this one go.

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