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With the arrival of Apple’s gorgeous Cinema Display came the painful realization that it’s out of your financial reach. A couple of years down the line, and it still sells at over two grand, despite its incredible original specifications aging slightly. Formac has a new screen that outperforms the original Cinema Display, looks the part, and comes close to the specs of the HD Cinema Display, but at a fraction of the price.
At a mere £1,195 (£1,404 including VAT) the Formac Gallery 2010 is set to steal a march on the competition, by being the first to market with this new screen, and by being by far the cheapest. Don’t let the low price fool you, though – this is still state of the art, and looks fantastic. Its 20.1-inch visible screen has a resolution of 1,600-x- 1,200, compared to the original Cinema
Display’s 1,200-x-1,024 widescreen format. That means you get 281,600 extra pixels from the 2010, for £800 less. The Gallery 2010 comes in two versions: ADC and DVI. The ADC version can be plugged straight into Macs with the Apple Display Connector (ADC) – that’s the rounded digital connection – but your graphics card will need to have at least 32MB of video memory to support the giant resolution. If you have a card with a Digital Video Interface (DVI) connection, you can get a 2010 to matches. The DVI version has a power connection on the lead at the computer end, so you still get a minimalist screen with a single neat cable. USB can also be carried through the main cable, either as part of the ADC, or via a connection on the DVI interface.
Formac claims that the 2010 has a 600:1 contrast ratio – double that of the Apple models. This means that highlights and lowlights in images that you edit will be more visible. It also comes with a three-year warranty and a maximum of two dead pixels. This is much better than the Apple one-year warranty, and up to ten dead pixels that it deems acceptable.
The dead-pixel issue is a thorny one. A dead pixel, one that is stuck either in the on or off position, doesn’t render the screen useless, but is an annoyance.
Manufacturers set limits on the number of dead pixels that are considered acceptable, because the manufacturing process makes it very difficult to achieve a good rate of perfect screens. If screens needed to be perfect, the price would be much higher. As a consumer, you may not be able to return a screen if it has a dead pixel, but there’s nothing stopping you from asking in a shop to see a screen. However, the high standards set by Formac make this less of a problem.
If you are looking for an impressive replacement for a big CRT, this is definitely a great screen. The colour is good, but as with all LCD screens, there can be slight colour shifts as the viewing angle changes, but they are fairly minimal. However, LCD screens are still unsuitable for the highest level of colour correction. The screen does a great job for the vast majority of users, and I recommend putting it on your Christmas wish-list immediately.
This review appeared in the EXPO 2002 issue of Macworld Magazine.