Design-wise, Apple’s latest Cinema Display is naturally very similar to the 27in iMac. It features the same luxurious aluminium frame and has a glass front that extends from edge to edge. It looks expensive, which of course, it is. The main difference is that the silver section underneath, which on the iMac contains a computer, is absent. Remarkably, the 20.7cm depth (with stand) is exactly the same as that of the 27in iMac, though that reflects more on the engineering feat the iMac represents than any qualities of the LED Cinema Display.
The Apple logo has been moved into the black bezel, which is the same size all the way round and contrasts well with the rest of the display. Naturally (this being Apple, after all) there are no unsightly buttons, with all adjustments made in the OS. The major disadvantage comes when hooking up consoles and the like, where you’re basically stuck with the monitor’s presets and no scaling. Hooking it up to a PC is also far from ideal, but more on that later.
At the top of the bezel sits a webcam with a built-in microphone – or iSight, to use the preferred Apple nomenclature. If you hook up to a Mac, any decent application will let you choose whether to use the camera in the screen rather than your laptop, to avoid the person at the other end having to view you from an awkward angle.
Hidden in the base of the display are two downward-firing speakers, which Apple describes as 2.1, implying some sub-woofer style action. The specs are given as 49W, so more powerful than the 17W listed for the iMac. Volume was certainly not a problem, and there was notable bass response – though decent dedicated speakers will naturally give you even more, as well as a clearer middle and top end. However, for integrated speakers this is as good as it gets.
In terms of ports, there are three USB connectors, though these are located right round at the back, which is inconvenient if you have to frequently connect and disconnect something.
The power plug is located centrally towards the rear, is circular and is coloured the typical shade of Apple white, unlike the boring black plastic oblong of regular plugs. There’s a circular cut out in the stand for the plug, and it doubles up as a cable tidy. Beneath this there’s a tiny Kensington lock to secure the screen, which on an expensive and desirable item such as this is a sensible inclusion.
The only other feature on the rear of the monitor is the captive cable that contains a mini-Display Port plug, a USB port and a pass-through MagSafe power connector. The latter means that you can power your Macbook from the monitor, saving you having to trail another cable across your desk. If you’re using a Mac, it makes for a very neat system, but if you’ve got a machine that doesn’t have DisplayPort, then there’s no way of directly connecting to the Cinema Display. You can use a third-party adaptor, but it isn’t supported by Apple, so if you have any problems, you’re on your own.
Another issue with the Cinema Display is that, as with the iMac, there’s no height adjustment or screen rotation; you just get to tilt the screen forward and back from between -5 to 25 degrees, which is the same adjustability found on the cheapest budget monitors. Whether that’s an issue is of course, up to you, but it’s certainly something we lamented as we would have preferred it slightly higher up on our desk. What’s more, balancing a screen such as this on a book would seem to be a rather philistine thing to do.