Apple LED Cinema Display full review - Page 5

Apple LED Cinema Display colour gamut

We set up Apple’s LED Cinema Display next to the 30in Apple Cinema HD Display, and the current office star, HP’s 10-bit LP2408ZX monitor. We used a Spyder3Elite to colour calibrate all monitors and Chromix ColorThink Pro to turn the ICC profiles into gamut graphs that showed how much of the total available colour spectrum was used by each monitor. We then used a Colour Confidence PressMatch Reference Print and image file to compare how close the colours were on the monitors to those on the reference print. We also set up a couple of other monitors for perspective reference, a Dell 2709w and NEC MultiSync LCD2090UXi.

We assembled a set of experts from Macworld, Digital Arts and PC Advisor to test out the monitors by use of the human eye.

First of all, lets look at the colour gamut charts. Here’s a quick explanation if you don’t know what you’re looking at. The outer dome-shape is the entire colour spectrum whilst the inner triangle is the amount of range available to the monitor in question: it’s triangular because the monitors work on RGB (red, green, blue) primaries. The bigger the triangle, the more colours it can show.

Apple LED Cinema Display colour gamut

Apple 24-inch LED Cinema Display gamut graph

Apple 30in Cinema Display colour gamut

Apple 30-inch Cinema Display gamut graph

HP LP2480ZX colour gamut

HP LP2480ZX gamut graph

As you can see, the new Apple LED Cinema Display has a slightly larger range than the 30in model using the older LCD technology. However, it is less than the HP LP2408zx, which has the largest range of any monitor in our office. We should point out that we’re not offering this as an alternative buying choice but a technical demonstration of what’s possible (because it requires a 10-bit graphics card which Apple doesn’t currently support).

So, the new display has a larger range than the old model so it should have more accurate colour, right? Wrong. When we held the PressMatch Reference Print next to the screen we found extreme variations on the glossy display. The model that we were looking at had slightly rouge lips on the photograph that pretty much matched exactly on the older LCD Cinema Display; but on the new ‘glossy’ LED Cinema Display her lips looked unnaturally red. They were simply different colours.

There’s no denying that the LED Cinema Display produces beautifully vibrant images, the problem is they just don’t look like anything that comes out of the printer. Even after careful colour calibration.

There’s also the issue of reflection. When you are looking at a dark area on the LED Glossy Display you see your own reflection and also any strong lights reflected in the screen. This troubles some people, who find the reflections distracting. It also introduces elements of lighting and colour into the screen that don’t exist in the image itself – this is worrisome for a professional designer.

The result of all this testing is that we really can’t recommend this display for a professional designer or photographer. Given its £635 price tag, we have to wonder just who it actually is aimed at.

Still, design pros needn’t unduly worry; there are a great number of professional displays out there, serving a wide range of needs. But if you’re not a design professional is the LED Cinema Display really worth buying?


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