The Source for Mac Performance News and Reviews
By Dieder Bylsma
Review date: 6/29/2001
(Updated 10/8/2001 for 2nd report on PCI Radeon w/Adapter comments)
The Apple 17" LCD Cinema Display is even more beautiful in person than it is on Apple's web site. Having seen it in person on a shop floor, I realized it was the intermediate LCD display that I've been waiting for Apple to produce since they first introduced their Apple Studio Display 15" LCD some 4 years ago. The stunning 22" was too big for my budget and my desk, while the new generation of Apple Cinema Display 15 LCD monitors did not offer much of advantage over my existing 15" LCD display. Getting an ADC 17" CRT monitor was an option, especially at its current price point, but the sheer size of it compared to the LCD display options made it less appealing. The one advantage that a CRT display has traditionally had over LCD displays was its colour fidelity. This is no longer as much as an issue as before. More on that later.
So what do you get for your money?
Before I purchased the display I wasn't sure how 'big' it really was in comparison to the Apple LCD Studio Display 15 (pre 'Cinema Display') that I was using. The picture below gives an indication of how much bigger it is than the previous generations of LCD displays. For point of comparison, the middle display is 'Revision B' of the Apple Studio Display 15 (which is NOT a DVI display, but instead is a VGA display also capable also of displaying television signals too). On the right hand side and cropped is a Powerbook Pizmo. Both the displays are rated at 1024 x 768. Because of the stand, the top of the 15" LCD display can go slightly higher than the top of the new LCD 17.
Comparison of LCD Displays
Compared to the two other LCD displays shown in the comparison photo (the Powerbook LCD is not completely shown), the 17" display is simply stunning in its colour fidelity, sharpness and brightness. This does not mean that the other two are slouches in any way, but simply that this display is astonishing in its own right. With a standard Active Matrix LCD display such as the Powerbook shown here, there is a noticeable shifting of colours as you glance up or down the display or as you adjust the display's viewing angle. This is much less of an issue with the LCD 15 monitor, and is practically non-existent in comparison with the LCD 17. As I type this on a white page with black text and move the position of my head, the white changes slightly to a 'creamy white' colour only at the extremes of vertical viewing (i.e. almost directly above or directly below), while it changes ever so slightly as I view the screen from the farthest extremes, but is nonetheless well within reason. The colour saturation is fantastic as well.
The far left hand side has a 'brightness' button that brings up the monitor control panel and allows you to adjust the brightness. Brightness at 100% is extremely bright, while brightness at about 40% is still very comfortable on the eyes.
Are there any catches?
Listing of Resolutions
Secondly, another minor quibble is that although the display has a built-in USB hub (on the same USB bus as USB port #1 on the computer) which provides enough power for Apple Cube Pro Speakers according to the sales brochure, the ReadMe warns that using the built-in hub for that purpose will result in sub-optimal performance of the speakers.
The third minor detail is that due to limited desk space, I really appreciated being able to have my keyboard farther away from me and almost directly under the 15" LCD display which was possible since it hung from its own tripod. This is not possible with the ADC 17 LCD. All things considered though, these are really minor quibbles with an amazing display.
Like all of Apple's current line of displays, this monitor has the Apple Display Connector, which includes both power and video signals (as well as USB). Apple notes an ADC graphics card is required. (Only Summer 2000 Gigabit G4 towers, Apple G4 Cubes and 2001 G4 digital audio tower systems have ADC port graphics cards and the 28Volt power supply/AGP slot connector required for ADC graphics cards.)
There is another option however if you have a graphics card with a DVI output connector (i.e. ATI Radeon PCI or AGP card, or Voodoo4/5 PCI cards) and assuming there are no issues with resolution mode support, etc. with retail cards. DrBott makes a DVI to ADC adapter (w/separate power supply) that currently lists for $149.95. GeFen also makes an adapter but the price was about twice that of the DrBott adapter last I checked. Both adapters are listed and linked in our FAQ's Displays/Monitors section for future reference. Also see below for a copy of the 17" Display Readme file for notes about the software updates (which includes Nvidia/ATI firmware updates) and the fact you should not connect the Cube's USB Speakers to this display.
Comments/Issues with DVI/ADC Adapter and Radeon PCI using 17" Apple Display:
" Apple Studio Display 17" works with ATI Radeon retail PCI version in G4 (PCI Graphics) using Dr. Bott ADC-DVI adapter set. There are a few tiny video artifacts which seem to be from the drivers and not the hardware, as the artifacts only show up in certain situations, like specks of black missing from opening application icons in the dock.
Update: On 10/9 Andy wrote that DrBott is going to replace the adapter as they think there's a problem with it - but later wrote that the problems he saw were not fixed.
" Mike, I regret to report that getting a new Radeon PCI card did not solve my artifacting problem; having tested the display, DVI-ADC adapter, and Radeon independently now, I am completely stumped. The only thing I can think of is that my other PCI cards or the video driver are causing the artifacts. It's a sad day...
" My Sony Trinitron monitor was fried by lightning (turned on, plugged into surge protector, computer off). So, of course, I needed a replacement 17" monitor, and I just had to have the Apple flat panel-except, I have a beige desktop G3.
I suggested he try using TomeViewer to see if that would extract the software extensions from the installer. However past reports here even with OEM cards noted that until the firmware update was applied, switching to lower than native resolutions resulted in corrupted screens.
The Studio 17" LCD Readme File:
" About Your Apple Studio Display
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