IntroductionTo many, the iMac is limited by its 15-inch display and inability to run a second, larger screen. As it’s a Power Mac at heart, the Cube has no such problems. There are three matching Apple displays for the Cube, or you can hook-up a standard third-party monitor via the VGA port. These new displays also work with the new G4 Power Macs. Cube owners won’t want to compromise on looks, and will be happy that Apple has transferred much of its chic Mac design to its monitor range. All three new screens are clutter-free – with a single Apple Display Connector (ADC) carrying signal, USB and power from the Cube or Power Mac G4. The cable-clutter’s still there – just not hanging out the back of the monitor. The ADC lets you turn the computer on and off right from a single power switch on the display. Each monitor also includes two USB ports for attaching further compatible peripherals. If you don’t need a Cube or new Power Mac, but love the look of these displays, you’re out of luck until Apple sells the ADC separately – if it ever does. The previous Apple displays that had the DVI connector will work on the new Power Macs and Cube with the addition of an adaptor cable. Flat mates
The G4 Cube looks best with either of the two flat-panel LCD screens. Not only do you free-up another two-square feet of desk space, you get an outstanding piece of industrial design to stare at all day. If you’ve got the cash, go for the marvellous 22-inch Cinema Display, which boasts a viewing area comparable to a 24-inch CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor (1,600-x-1,024-pixel resolution). At £2,799, it’s no impulse buy – but you’re guaranteed to win your colleagues’ office jealousy. The more budget-conscious can settle for the 15-inch flat-panel Studio Display that looks just like the Cinema Display and offers a surprisingly large canvas (1,024-x-768-pixels) considering the lack of footprint. It’s not cheap at £699, but you do get your cool-cash money’s worth. Both the LCD displays feature touch-sensitive buttons that offer visual feedback (brightness, contrast, etc) as your hand nears the controls. Under testing, this feature appeared over-sensitive – anyone approaching a couple of feet from the screen could set-off the controls. Luckily, this doesn’t affect the display’s similarly flush button that can power on, put to sleep, or wake the Power Mac or Cube! Because they do not have to change digital data to analogue, as CRT monitors do, these modern flat-panels are all digital. This removes the possibility of conversion-led screen distortion and artifacts such as banding and jumpy pixels. LCDs hold their colour longer and experience much less flicker than CRT monitors, meaning less eyestrain for you at the end of the day. Other LCD advantages include no moiré patterns in your images and a 90 per cent reduction in energy consumption. The images on these LCDs are sharper – at all resolutions – than that on the previous Apple Studio Display CRT, showing greater detail and crisper text. The pictures of the LCD Studio and Cinema Displays don’t do these monitors justice. If you think they look cool here, you’re in for a nice surprise – when you see them in the fantastic plastic, they’re simply beautiful. Fat mate
LCDs are not for everyone, however. Colour accuracy is not as good as a CRT. They can’t reproduce as many colours, and so may not be best for designers who rely on such capabilities. When viewed from angles, you can notice subtle colour shifts – the more extreme the angle, the more severe the shift. Apple’s LCDs perform a lot better with colour than many other manufacturers’ flat-panels – but CRTs still win if colour accuracy is absolutely key to you. The third new Apple display that looks good with the Cube – or Power Mac G4 – is the 17-inch CRT Studio Display. Although not a flat-panel, it does have Natural Flat Diamondtron screen to ensure image precision – eliminating edge distortion, improving focus and reducing glare. The Studio Display features internal ColorSync colour-calibration, as well as a Theatre Mode that automatically brightens the screen to enhance full-screen digital video. And Apple claims that you’ll never have to re-calibrate this display as it remains forever accurate. This alone makes the extra spend worthwhile.