How much do older Apple Cinema Displays differ from the newer ones?
March 12, 2007 7:10 PM   Subscribe

How much do older Apple Cinema Displays differ from the newer ones? Do the display elements compare favorably to today's standards? Help me stay within my budget!

I'm overwhelmed by comparison shopping for an LCD monitor -- I do video work, so I can't just live with a cheapo model, but I have a pretty strict budget -- so I decided to go with buying a used Apple Cinema Display since I know that an Apple monitor is a sure bet, but I can't afford a new one. The one I'm checking out tomorrow is one of these -- 22" (though with the same resolution as the current 20"), clear frame for $475. Assuming that it's in good condition, are these models of comparable screen quality to modern-day ADCs, or have there been great leaps in LCD quality since then? (There certainly have been great leaps in making them cheaper -- the model originally retailed for $4000!)
posted by tweebiscuit to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
You can buy a brand new, good quality 20" LCD monitor with warranty etc. for much less than $425. Certainly better than a several-year-old Apple branded model. Well-reviewed example.

Note also that If your current computer has DVI or VGA out, you're going to need a converter box to use the display you linked to, which uses an ADC connector for both power and video signal. This potentially adds $99 to your $425.
posted by buxtonbluecat at 7:41 PM on March 12, 2007

Best answer: And to answer more of your question - yes, LCD technology has improved significantly. The Samsung I linked to is brighter (300 cd/m2 vs. 180 cd/m2) has a higher contrast ratio (800:1 vs. 300:1) a faster response time. (5ms vs. erm don't actually know for the Apple, but I guarantee it's more than 5ms) uses less power (35 watts vs. 77 watts) and has more pixels (1600x1200 vs. 1600x1024). Frankly, you'd be nuts to pay $425 for that Apple monitor.
posted by buxtonbluecat at 7:49 PM on March 12, 2007

And while Apple displays are nice (I have two 23" cinemas on my desk, and I'm not complaining - but I didn't pay for them with my own money) pretty much all brands are pretty much the same. All the LCD panels are made in the same handful of factories, anyways.
posted by buxtonbluecat at 7:53 PM on March 12, 2007

Response by poster: buxtonbluecat -- thanks for the input, excellent help, and I probably won't buy the model. However, I know that you're dead wrong on the last comment, especially for my purposes -- there are big differences between displays, and as I do video and photo work for 6-8 hours a day, and the few models I've found that meet my needs and my budget have other problems (the Dell "panel lottery", the Samsung's input lag, etc.)
posted by tweebiscuit at 7:58 PM on March 12, 2007

As mentioned above, beware of the older Apple LCDs that use the ADC (Apple Display Connector) as opposed to DVI.
posted by sad_otter at 9:05 PM on March 12, 2007

From what I've been told, if you're doing video and photo work professionally, you need a CRT. Full stop. The only LCDs that will work correctly for you in all circumstances will cost you many thousands of dollars.

LCD color reproduction, short of the super-expensive pro calibrated models, is apparently not accurate enough for professional work, and probably won't be for another 2 or 3 years.
posted by Malor at 9:42 PM on March 12, 2007

Take a look at If you can't afford the 319, you're probably better off with a CRT.

That said, my $250 BenQ has been fine for pretty extensive photoshop usage. Its really a matter of 'good enough,' at some point.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:16 PM on March 12, 2007

i used to have the mitsubishi diamond pro CRT. excellent monitor. you can probably find it on the cheap nowadays. but its very bulky.
posted by phaedon at 12:01 AM on March 13, 2007

LCD technology is advancing so fast that even a crappyish DVI screen today will beat a top of the range one from a few years ago. I know, because I have both! I have a $900 16" TFT that was top of the range in 2003, but it's pale and rather poor in comparison to the cheaper ones nowadays.

If you want quality, make sure you get one that supports DVI and that you have DVI out. Otherwise you might as well throw quality requirements out of the window. And I second the recommendation for Dells above. I believe they even use the same TFT panels as Apple screens, but they have far more inputs and are cheaper.
posted by wackybrit at 3:45 AM on March 13, 2007

A very useful resource when hunting for LCDs is HardForum's Panel Technology & Model/Panel Breakdown Page. This venerable old warhorse lists the different types of panels you can encounter, and the displays known to contain them. Panel type is the most important determining factor in panel suitability for a specific purpose, as far as I know. Sure, there are quality differences within panels using the same technology, but as a video pro you'll probably never be happy with a "TN" type panel.

That said, a good CRT is probably still your best bet for contrast/color rendering, and if nothing else, you'll want to keep a well-calibrated studio-quality monitor around for preview/qc purposes.
posted by Alterscape at 3:51 AM on March 13, 2007

(oh, and a note: Dell has been known to swap out S-IPS and S-PVA panels in its displays of the same model number, so check out the rest of the threads in that forum for more info on any monitor you're interested in. HardForums tends to be populated by computer gaming/video playback enthusiasts rather than content creators, but you might still get some good feedback.) Sorry I forgot to mention the Dell issue in my first response.
posted by Alterscape at 3:54 AM on March 13, 2007

The older, clear-plastic-bodied Apple Cinema Displays seem to have a better reputation among color-professionals (artists, designers, pre-press, etc) than do the newer, aluminum-framed units. Word-on-the-street is that color-fidelity and uniformity is better in the older units. YMMV.

Also, if you are looking to do color-sensitive work, DO NOT make your decision merely on stratospheric brightness and contrast measurements. High-contrast actually distorts accurate imaging. But it sure impresses the shoppers at Staples and BestBuy.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:05 AM on March 13, 2007

Response by poster: Wow -- thanks for all the great advice, everyone!
posted by tweebiscuit at 8:25 PM on March 13, 2007

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