To test the display we used a recent, DisplayPort equipped Macbook, and the first thing we noted was well, ourselves. The glossy coating on the display makes for a highly reflective surface, and our face was all too often visible – never a good thing. If you do want to use the Cinema Display with dark material such as films, you’d best dim the lights.
That aside, out of the box, image quality was excellent. Right from the off, whites were punchy, text sharp and clear yet easy on the eye, and colours vibrant. When you do tilt the screen you can be sure that there’s no colour shift either vertically or to the side – viewing angles on this H-IPS screen are no problem, at 178 degrees side-to-side.
Our first move was to run through the calibration routine in Mac OS X, but we only had to make very minor adjustments to the default image. Apple’s OS instantly recognises the Cinema Display and brightness can be adjusted by a slider in Display preferences. There’s also a check box to enable a light sensor that adjusts brightness automatically according to ambient conditions.
If you were to connect up a PC, you’d be forced to use the graphics driver control panel, which won’t enable you to directly adjust the backlight. To do so you’d have to install Boot Camp 3.1 drivers on a PC, so expect some fiddling around.
Maximum brightness for the screen is listed as 375 cd/m2 and in a typically-lit office we had to reduce it down a little to work comfortably. Contrast ratio is given as 1,000:1, and we could make out all the 32 steps in the Lagom contrast test.
Moving to the Black-level test, we found black levels to be good, though not outstanding – we had to move to maximum brightness to see each black square, though at least they were very smooth and noiseless. Subjectively, colour uniformity was excellent and in terms of motion, we didn’t notice any overt ghosting despite the screen’s 12ms response time.
Overall, we have seen better quality, and if you’re a very demanding professional looking for the last word in image quality then this LED Cinema Display may not meet with your approval. For everyone else though, it’s an excellent display, and we’d be happy doing photographic or any other kind of work on it all day long.
The 27in LED Cinema Display offers all the aesthetics you’d expect from Apple, married to generally excellent image quality. However, reflections from the glossy screen may rule it out for some. It’s also expensive, especially compared to Dell’s equivalent U2711, which offers a whole host of additional connectivity options, far greater adjustability, internal processing, an anti-glare, matt finish and a more extensive colour space for less money. If these caveats aren’t an issue for you, Apple’s simply gorgeous aesthetics and slim metal build might be enough to win you over, though it makes most sense if you work and play in an all-Mac environment.
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Score in detail
Image Quality 9