Getting a Mac mini: help me choose a display.
November 15, 2005 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Getting a Mac mini: help me choose a display.

Best choice in this case for a new machine would be a mini or an iMac, but I don't really like the form factor on the new iMacs (the side-loading CD slot especially).
But I need a display to go with a mini, and I'm not sure I need to spend $800 on a 20-inch Apple Cinema display.
I've been using an old 700mhz eMac as an entertainment center in a small room, watching DVDs mostly (from about 10 feet away, from various angles). So the CRT has worked fine for me so far. An LCD with a crap viewing angle wouldn’t help.
I'm also thinking about a Slingbox for watching TV as well when the Mac version is ready. Or maybe I should get a monitor with a TV tuner now?

1) 20-inch Apple Cinema = worth the money? Best choice?
2) Any other good picks for an LCD suitable for watching DVD’s?
3) LCD monitors with TV tuners = junk?
4) Another option, maybe should be a whole other question – I’m used to the big eMac blob – and since I liked the CRT (but HATED the cooling fan noise), is there a way I can open it up and mod it so that I can use the eMac’s CRT as the monitor for my mini? Bonus points if I can also use the optical drive and the USB ports, too. I’d love to turn it into a collection of peripherals in a box and lose the processor and the fan. Could I do this without killing myself? Is there a shop in the SF Bay area that could do it for me for less than the cost of a new LCD?

Oh, and I know people hate the eMac, but I always liked mine, so please no MacQuarium or “make it into a nose cone for a rocket and blast it into space” suggestions; I’ve already got those. I’m just hoping to keep it out of the landfill for a while longer.
posted by bartleby to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
My understanding is that the 20" Dell LCD is the same as the Apple one, minus the snazzy metal case and a whole lot of money. Watch and the like - there's 20% coupons on a regular basis.
posted by phearlez at 12:39 PM on November 15, 2005

I've heard very good reports about the Dell 2005FPW LCD from people who use Macs.
posted by mikel at 12:42 PM on November 15, 2005

I would highly recommend the Dell 2005fpw. It's their 20" widescreen monitor. It is the exact same monitor used in the Apple Cinema displays. Its only difference being the case the monitor is housed in. You can find these monitors online anywhere from $350-$500 depending on where you look. There are always Dell coupons floating around. I own one of these monitors and have not once regretted the purchase. The mini is capable of the full 1680 x 1050 DVI resolution.
posted by se7encrows at 12:43 PM on November 15, 2005

The 20-inch Cinema Display is crap for video - in dark scenes all you can see is the blotchy backlight. But it's fine for normal use.

Another option, maybe should be a whole other question – I’m used to the big eMac blob – and since I liked the CRT (but HATED the cooling fan noise), is there a way I can open it up and mod it so that I can use the eMac’s CRT as the monitor for my mini?

Sell 700MHz eMac on eBay, buy 1.42GHz eMac on eBay.
posted by cillit bang at 12:46 PM on November 15, 2005

Dell is the way to go. I have two Dell 20" LCDs (the widescreen and non-widescreen one) and in addition to their good quality, they serve as a four-port USB hub. They also have a whole range of inputs, such as DVI and S-Video in addition to normal VGA. Highly cool.
posted by adrianhon at 12:52 PM on November 15, 2005

I'm using a Samsung 997DF CRT with my mini and I couldn't be happier with it. I might buy an LCD if I was buying today, but a year ago they were a lot pricier in the 19" range. I bought the Samsung locally so I didn't have to deal with the insane shipping on a CRT. It was around $200 IIRC.
posted by smackfu at 12:54 PM on November 15, 2005

check out dell 2005FPW versus apple 20" cinema display if people shouting for the dell doesn't convince you. i bought one a few months ago and it's great.

If you give a real quick poke-around on slickdeals/techbargains/hot deals/fatwallet every few days you should be able to find a coupon to get you a couple hundred dollars off of the normal price within a couple weeks, too.
posted by soma lkzx at 1:07 PM on November 15, 2005

I have the Dell 2001FP, which is their non-widescreen offering. If you dig normal proportions, I highly recommend it.
posted by qslack at 1:42 PM on November 15, 2005

My wife just got a Mini and a Dell 1905FP. Very nice setup, and I think you can find coupon-codes to buy that display for about $300. I see that BenQ has developed a Mini-friendly display, with a pad for the mini on its base.

FWIW, I've got the 20" iMac with the side-loading CD. I was a little dubious about that, but in everyday use, it doesn't bother me, and I'm very happy with the machine.
posted by adamrice at 1:49 PM on November 15, 2005

I picked up the Apple 20 inch and am quite happy with it. Part of my reasoning had to do with the aesthetics of the thing - it really is well designed. But I'm certain the Dell will work just fine for you.

Although a quick Google reveals that the price points aren't that far apart.

One thing to consider: The Apple monitor conveniently supplies 2 firewire ports and 2 USB ports. From what I can tell, the Dell only offers USB connections. For me, this is an automatic deal breaker.

Part of the reason I purchased the Mini is because I anticipate upgrading in about a year. So my thinking was that I'd buy the best monitor I can such that it will last into my next machine. The mini will live on as a headless server or media center after retirement.
posted by aladfar at 2:07 PM on November 15, 2005

I got the Dell 2005FPW for my mini, and it's brilliant. It doesn't have firewire, but everything is going USB 2.0 now anyway -- including the iPod -- so the FW port on the mini does me fine. What it does have, which the Apple doesn't, is a range of inputs -- VGA and composite, and can do picture-in-picture.

I have a console on the VGA-in, and my digital TV decoder on the composite, so I can watch TV in the corner of whatever else I'm doing.

Also, it has a swivel stand, so you can stand it up portrait. In theory, that's great for long documents, but the Mac mini's graphic card isn't really up to the task, and it's crushingly slow.
posted by bonaldi at 3:37 PM on November 15, 2005

3) LCD monitors with TV tuners = junk?

I bought a Sony 19" LCD TV (regular TV ratio) to go with my Mac Mini and it worked a treat. Works great at all resolutions and plays DVDs. Even has picture in picture so you can watch teev while you're working on the Mac.

There's a 17" widescreen version too.

Has two computer inputs in back, so I can run my Windows PC through it as well. Generally an all-round good value purchase, I've found.

(Note: I bought mine in Australia, but have posted links from Sony's US website.)
posted by bright cold day at 9:56 PM on November 15, 2005

Depends how much you want to spend, but there's quite a few people over at AV Forums who are using an HDTV LCD screen as their computer monitor - some with a Mac mini.

I've just bought a 37" screen for use with games, DVDs and my Mac mini - it was a great big wodge of money, but 9 months interest free is pretty useful! If you want an update or more information, drop me a line (see profile) - it should be delivered towards the end of the week...
posted by Chunder at 8:02 AM on November 16, 2005

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