The best way to think of Apple's new Cinema Display is not as a monitor at all. Yes, it has a very good screen that takes the picture from a recent citric portable and blows it up to a full 24inch, 1920x1200 size. But if you don't own a MacBook, it’s pretty much useless.
It'd be a poor case for the prosecution if we couldn't back this up, so let's look at the individual merits of the Cinema Display's two halves.
As a monitor, the LED Cinema Display is almost unique in boasting both an LED backlight and an IPS panel. That's the best of both sides of display technology at the moment.
The LED means it can be thinner than Volume One of George Bush's Greatest Moments and bright enough to play football under on a dark winter's night. It's powerful enough to overcome the reflective qualities of the glossy screen coating, and the narrow design is stunning to look at.
The IPS side of things means that colour quality is exceptionally good, and refresh rates aren't bad either. We did notice a bit of ghosting in DVD playback, but this is was likely a fault of the low powered 13inch MacBook struggling to draw images at HD resolutions rather than the panel itself.
If there is a failing in the picture quality, it's that viewing angles aren't quite what we'd expect, but so long as you're in front of the screen, everything is fine.
Which brings us neatly on to the less impressive aspect. We couldn't verify the ghosting suspicion because around the back of the Cinema Display there are two cables. One is a kettle lead for power, and the other is fixed in place and ends in three strands. The first is the Magsafe plug, for charging a MacBook or Pro. Next up is USB for the built-in webcam and three port hub. Finally there's a Mini DisplayPort connector.
There are no adaptors available, as yet, for hooking up a Mini DisplayPort cable to more common laptop video outs, like HDMI or DVI. Right now, only Apple's newest laptops – including the Air – have compatible sockets, so the Cinema Display isn't just designed with those in mind, it's exclusively for them.
Review continues after the break...
And it doesn't even work as seamlessly with them as you'd expect. If you want, for example, to turn off the laptop screen once it's connected, you actually have to put the MacBook into standby mode, close the lid and then wake it again by tapping an external keyboard.
No vertical tweaking
Then there's the stand, which tilts but has no vertical adjustment, and the speakers aren't great either.
So the LED Cinema Display isn’t really a monitor, more an exquisitely designed, premium price dock for a MacBook, that does everything you could ever possibly need it to do but has a few quirks.
As a companion to a MacBook, it's good, but even then we'd go for the superior and cheaper 24in NEC 24WMGX3. It may be a bulkier, but the picture quality is phenomenal, it has every input under the sun and you can adjust the height.