The curious thing about computers is that no matter how beautifully they’re designed, you’re always looking at the screen. At this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple improved the view by announcing three new Apple Cinema Displays: updated 20-inch and 23-inch sizes, as well as a huge 30-inch model. For the benefit of the other people you work with, each display sports a stylish new aluminum case design that complements Apple’s PowerBooks and Power Mac G5 computers.
The 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display supports resolutions up to 2560 by 1600 pixels, or approximately 4 million pixels overall. It features a brightness level of 270 cd/m2 (candela per square meter) and a contrast ratio of 400:1. Due to the increased pixel count, the 30-inch display will work only with a Power Mac G5 equipped with an Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL graphics card; that card will be available in August as a build-to-order option for new Power Mac G5 purchases, or as a $600 kit for existing Power Mac G5 owners. The card offers dual DVI connections in parallel, and it will also support the use of two 30-inch displays. The 30-inch Cinema Display costs $3,300, and will be available in August 2004.
The 20-inch and 23-inch models may appear to be Apple’s existing displays in different cases, but the new screens add more than just aluminum. The 20-inch Cinema Display, priced at $1,300, still sports up to 1680 by 1050 pixels, but now has a brightness of 250 cd/m2 compared to 230 cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 400:1 instead of 350:1. Similarly, the $2,000 23-inch Cinema HD Display handles up to 1920 by 1200 pixels, but features the same 270 cd/m2 brightness (up from 200 cd/m2) and 400:1 contrast ratio (up from 350:1) as the 30-inch Cinema HD Display. Both displays will ship next month.
The new Cinema Displays include two self-powered USB 2.0 ports, two FireWire 400 ports, a power button, brightness buttons, and a Kensington security slot. Apple is also introducing a magnetic iSight mount that will be included with new iSight cameras or available in a separate iSight Accessory Kit in the next few months, as well as a Cinema Display VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) Mount Adapter Kit for connecting a display to a third-party ergonomic mount.
The displays also abandon Apple’s proprietary ADC (Apple Direct Connection) connector found in previous displays, in favor of the more common DVI (Direct Video Input) connection. ADC was an Apple favorite because it reduced cable clutter and eliminated the need for a power supply by routing power from the computer to the monitor. The new displays also feature a single cable exiting the display, though it splits off into power, graphics, USB 2.0, and FireWire 400 connectors; the display’s power presumably comes from an external power brick. According to Apple, the 20-inch and 23-inch models will work with existing Power Mac and PowerBook models. These two displays will also work with "Windows-based PCs containing graphics cards that support DVI ports with full single link digital bandwidth and VESA DDC standard for plug and play setup," according to the specifications at Apple’s Web site; the 30-inch model will only work with a Power Mac G5 and Nvidia G3Force 6800 Ultra DDL card. As with the iPod, this hardware expansion out of the Mac bubble can only improve Apple’s sales to the large Windows market.