Apple supersizes its LCD monitors

Apple 30-inch Cinema Display
Apple Computer
Price: $4899 RRP

Plasma hasn’t quite taken over the world like the early pundits promised. For a 40-year-old technology, LCD (liquid crystal display) is still very healthy. Sony announced late in 2004 that they weren’t going to manufacture CRT monitors any more, moving completely to LCD. Apple, of course, was too cutting edge to even announce it — they were already doing it.

And not to be outdone by competitors, Apple have what they claim is the largest model on the market, the 30 inch cinema display.

Take it out of the enormous box and it’s ready to plug straight in. One of the first things you might want to do is put a DVD on and sit across the room from your desk, enjoying the film without the irritating letterbox format most monitors force on you just because of their dimensions (it’s not called a cinema display for nothing).

But when it comes time to use it for your day-to-day work, an uncomfortable feeling arises. Can a monitor be just too big? Apple’s website says because of the sleek, elegant design it makes it even easier to put two monitors together and have a multi-display setup. Even if there were applications you’d possibly need so much screen real estate for, getting the mouse around a work area that expansive would drive you mad.

If there’s such a thing as ‘too big’ for a monitor, 30 inches must be right on the cusp. If 30-inch monitors become standard we’ll of course get used to them (just like we had to get used to 17 or 15 inch screens after moving gradually up from the nine-inch screen on the original 1984 Macintosh).

The jump from 17 inches to 30, however, will make your head spin. Moving from one corner of the screen to the other (from the Apple menu to the trash, for example), takes two solid travels across the average mouse pad. If you don’t use one, you’ll push your mouse around thirty centimetres to make the journey.

Of course there’s a huge upside (no pun intended). Gone are the days of having applications open behind each other and switching between them. With so much screen real estate, you can have your email client, a word processor document, a Photoshop file, the calculator and a Quicktime movie all going at once, none of them overlapping the other.

If you’re one of Apple’s old core market ‘creative types using drawing or film editing software — you’ll wonder how you ever did without it. No more trying to keep it down to two or three essential palettes open at any one time. Open them all and you’ll still have plenty of space to play around, experiment and see your whole work area.

At just over 12kg and with a staggering maximum resolution of 2560×1600 pixels, it’s indeed beautiful, the same polished aluminium as the G5 and Mac Mini — so you’ll have the best looking workstation as well as needing the biggest desk.

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