Who sells an Apple-quality LCD monitor in a smaller size?
September 19, 2011 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Who sells an Apple-quality LCD monitor in a smaller size?

I'm looking for a small LCD monitor to pair as a second screen with my mid-2011 iMac. I love the amazing quality of the iMac monitor and want something of equal brightness and clarity and, hopefully, the same DPI. Unfortunately the only monitor Apple sells now is 27" and I need something more like 20" to fit on my desk.

In previous AskMe questions Dell's UltraSharp monitors have gotten frequent recommendation. (From me, too!) But I've had bad experiences with a couple of recent Dell LCDs: ghosting, poor colour, uneven backlight.

What would be great would be a monitor built specifically for Apple computers, with mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt port and something that matches MacOS' automatic brightness adjustment based on ambient light. Apple doesn't sell that in the size I want; does anyone? I'm not a professional graphic designer but I am loving how beautiful the iMac is and want to extend that experience.
posted by Nelson to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'll be watching this closely. My previous ask got some answers, but I'm not terribly pleased with the HP monitor I ended up with.
posted by alms at 11:42 AM on September 19, 2011

HP make some decent monitors: Take a look at the HP ZR22w for instance.

I don't think there are any non-Apple monitors with ThunderBolt right now. You want something with an IPS based screen (best field of view, wide gamut, but slower refresh rate than competing tech) and a decent backlight. You can get a mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort adaptor easily enough.

Have a look through the reviews at TFTCentral. I've found them to be pretty reliable in the past.
posted by pharm at 11:52 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Short answer: Nobody.

The 27-inch Mac monitor has a resolution of 2560x1440. This makes for a dot-pitch of .23mm which is very low. Further, they are IPS screens, which makes them that much sexier. There's a reason for their price premium.

I went surfing around Newegg and the only monitors that had a dot-pitch of .23mm were all 27" inch monitors. These monitors are unsurprisingly in the $800-1000 range. I suspect these are sourced from the same factory as the Mac monitors.

The only monitors that might work are at the 21.5" screen size. These are at a resolution of 1920x1080 or 1920x1200. The dot-pitch is at .248mm. On Newegg, I spotted the HP ZR22w listed by pharm at $360 (Super-IPS version). It will probably be the closest to what you are looking for.

LG has an IPS monitor at $200, however, the reviews have multiple complaints of backlight bleeding.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:00 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Coincidentally, I've got a HP ZR24W on my desk, right next to a 30" Cinema Display. Apart from my qualms about the Cinema Display's gargantuan proportions, I think the Apple display does look slightly better.

Also, coincidentally, the iMac screens are generally not as nice as the Cinema Displays (previous ones had awful 6-bit panels in them; the current ones are decent), and have the glass surface, which not everyone loves.
posted by schmod at 12:28 PM on September 19, 2011

In the past, the higher-end Dell displays used the same or similar panels. I've used terrible low-quality Dell displays, but the high-end is good. Might want to check it out.

And ... I was recently very pleasantly surprised by a dirt cheap Samsung 2333T. It's obvious that it's not in the same league as Apple, but the closes to it out of all the cheapish displays I've used; My point is that myself, I'd take a look at their higher-end models if I was looking for a quality display. Seeing as they're doing the low end right.
posted by krilli at 12:54 PM on September 19, 2011

the same or similar panels* as Apple
posted by krilli at 12:54 PM on September 19, 2011

Best answer: If you want a small IPS panel with a display pitch close to your existing iMac & DisplayPort then TFTCentral says that the HP ZR22W and Dell UltraSharp U2212HM are your choices, although they don't review the complete output of all monitor manufacturers, so may be missing some candidates.

You'll have a much wider range of choice if you forgo the IPS panel and look at the various TN-TFT options, but they won't have the quality of your existing iMac screen.
posted by pharm at 1:08 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the info. The HP ZR22w seems to be a good option, only drawbacks are it's a CFL backlight (not LED) and it's a matte screen. Ie: not a perfect match for Apple's monitors. This monitor may be phasing out: HP has just released the ZR2240w for $45 more. It has an LED backlight, not positive if it's matte or glossy. I may wait a few weeks on reviews and then go for that.
posted by Nelson at 3:42 PM on September 19, 2011

When I worked for Apple a few years back, I heard (not officially) that Apple's displays used identical panels to the high end Dell monitors. If you want something that offers the same quality with a less hyped brand, I'd say this was the way to go.
posted by fearnothing at 10:33 PM on September 19, 2011

At the high-end, the two brands that make extremely well-respected, supremely color accurate monitors are NEC and Eizo. I don't know anything about their current lineup, but I would seriously consider looking into their displays.
posted by Magnakai at 2:27 AM on September 20, 2011

The OP hasn't requested that kind of quality Magnakai, just something equivalent to their existing iMac screen.
posted by pharm at 2:30 AM on September 20, 2011

One way to go about it is to try and figure out who the OEM manufacturer is from the existing display panel. Samsung, LG, Panasonic, etc. If you can get the panel's model number, you can then try to figure out what other brands of monitors that panel went into.

(But I agree with other posters; if you go with the more expensive Dell and Hp monitors, you'll get a pretty good product.)
posted by gjc at 6:50 AM on September 20, 2011

To follow up: the HP monitor I got that I'm not terribly happy with is a 2010i. The main issue is that it's much darker than my MacBook Air or the external Apple monitor I was previously using, so it's not very good for looking at graphics and it doesn't give me a sense of having a continuous workspace across my two screens.
posted by alms at 8:02 AM on September 20, 2011

That's not an IPS screen alms, so it's unsurprising that you'd be disappointed by the comparison with the Apple ones.
posted by pharm at 8:27 AM on September 20, 2011

Response by poster: Just to close this out, I ended up buying a ZR2240w from Amazon for about $300. It's pretty good, way better than my old Dell LCDs. The only feature I'm missing is automatic brightness.
posted by Nelson at 7:22 AM on November 11, 2011

« Older I've read a poem that has intrigued me and piqued...   |   Scientific spinoffs Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.