24" Dell/23" Apple - IT'S TIME TO CLEAR UP THE MISCONCEPTIONS!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by c.hilding, Nov 15, 2006.

  1. c.hilding macrumors member

    c.hilding

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    #1
    UPDATED: December 04, 2006

    I am making this thread to help those that are on the fence over which display to get and who have only heard the misinformation so far. There's more to the displays than just on-paper specifications and Dell has tricked you with their higher brightness & contrast values. In reality, these screens are very different and are targeted at two different markets; Consumer-quality (Dell) and Pro-quality (Apple).

    Almost all the discussions (but not all) have completely disregarded everything but the brightness and contrast and argued that "Unless you are a total mac fanboy incapable of buying anything without an apple logo on it, then go for the Dell. Because paying more for an Apple monitor and getting less brightness and contrast is ridiculous".

    I'm going to be talking a lot about S-IPS vs S-PVA, so please read both of those paragraphs in this Wikipedia article to learn the difference.

    Now, let's jump right in;

    Apple Cinema Display 23"
    Screen: 23" (.258mm Pixel Pitch)
    LCD Panel: S-IPS (super in-plane switching) (made by LG-Philips) (Note: the recent Apple-display update bumped the contrast, suggesting a likely move to AS-IPS which is even better), the S-IPS panel type has less brightness and contrast compared to Dell's S-PVA-panel (Note: S-PVA is a consumer-grade panel type), but Apple's professional-grade S-IPS-panel pays off with its very accurate and stable (no shifting) color reproduction, which is why Apple uses it. Professionals expect no less than S-IPS for their graphics work. Note that all Apple monitors have been SWOP-certified; which ensures that the colors on the displays are so good that you can use them in a SWOP-certified soft-proofing workflow (ie. print). This along with the expensive (to manufacture), very high-quality S-IPS-panels make it worth the higher pricepoint, at least if color accurcy matters to you. This display shouldn't be compared to the Dell based on price; it should be taken for what it is, a high-end display for professionals while Dell's is for general users. Further testimony to Apple's amazing color quality are colorimeter tests that showed it to have an almost identical color spectrum to an expensive, reference-quality EIZO display! Forum user "ATD'" sums it up very well and provides links to the results.

    Dell UltraSharp 2407FPW
    Screen: 24" (.270mm Pixel Pitch) (Same amount of pixels, wider gap between pixels to spread them out an extra inch.)
    LCD Panel: S-PVA (super patterned vertical alignment) (made by Samsung), higher brightness, higher contrast (only perpendicular, contrast sharply diminishes if you look off-axis at S-PVA-based panels, including severely warped colors), much less color accuracy due to the S-PVA characteristics. S-PVA-panels gives great brightness and contrast at the cost of acceptable (from an artists standpoint) color reproduction. Not much else to say.

    How do they stack up against each other?
    There's more than meets the eye when it comes to monitors, and specifications such as brightness and contrast mean little compared to the color quality or panel type. Make no mistake: Apple's (S-IPS) photo-professional displays are much better for graphics work with their accurate and stable colors, but at the cost of slightly lower brightness and contrast. If you don't need color accuracy, then Dell's (S-PVA) may be better for you with their great brightness and contrast. With the Dell you also get a lot more connectors, but then again; if you are a professional you don't hook up s-video, composite, component and other such TV-signals that it provides; you just need DVI to hook it up to a computer and that is exactly what Apple gives you. The Dell is a consumer-grade product that doubles as a TV-set, and even contains a deinterlacer by Faroudja to deinterlace interlaced TV-signals. Incidentally, Dell forgot to disable that chip even when the display was hooked up to a computer, leading to severe dithering (watch any gradient and you'll see "banding/stepping" in it) due to the Faroudja chip processing all graphics. This has been fixed in the (new) revision 3 of the monitor which now bypasses the Faroudja chipset whenever connected through VGA or DVI; phew! So make sure you ask for a rev. 3.

    UPDATE: The information that the new 2407WFP was only 6-bit turned out to be misinformation spread by a Dell product manager who didn't do enough research when he answered the communitys questions about the 2407WFP a while back. He has looked into it again and found that it is indeed true 8-bit. Therefore this paragraph should be disregarded. (more information) [You should also be aware that there's a difference between Dell's new and old 24" monitors, the new 2407 model is dithered and only shows 18-bit (3x6-bit cells) colors, while the older 2405 has full 24-bit (3x8-bit cells) colors. Dell has reduced the color depth of each subpixel from an 8-bit to a 6-bit LCD so they could lower the response time (ms) from 16ms to 6ms by having less data to process, and I'm not in favor of sacrificing color depth for speed. A 6-bit display can only show 262,144 colors natively while an 8-bit display is able to show 16,777,216 colors natively. The 6-bit displays then dither those few colors in order to artificially show up to 16.2 million colors, a fake way of achieving "more" colors but it looks terrible. Therefore the older Dell 2405FPW is better than the new version. Decide which version you want, I'd try to find a 2405 if I were you no matter what you are going to use it for, as it has a deeper color range.]

    Finally, the looks are very different between Dell and Apple monitors; and the one that obviously matches the aluminum Mac/MacBook Pro's is Apple's own ACD's, and that's enough for some to get the ACD while other's aren't as picky, or may even prefer Dell's more PC-like look and exterior. Ultimately you shouldn't base your decision on looks, it's much more important that you consider: am I in need of professional-grade color reproduction, or is a cheaper consumer-grade monitor enough?

    Pixel Policy
    Note that might be of interest: Since Apple's displays are aimed at professionals they have a pretty good pixel-policy, I have been able to instantly replace a defective display with a single dead pixel just by calling them and having them arrange a pickup, and didn't even have to explain why the dead pixel was annoying. They wouldn't release any numbers but rather said "we work with our customers on a case-by-case basis instead". So if you get a dead pixel you can just call them and convince them to send you a new monitor. This beats other manufacturer policies such as "a minimum of 5 dead pixels before a screen is deemed defective".

    I have read the same policy on several sites, including one that contains a constantly updated rundown of every manufacturer's pixel policies, as collected by the team by calling the different companies regularly (in other words: it's reliable and up-to-date). I forgot the URL though.

    HDCP, High-Definition Content Protection?
    As you may know, the new Dell monitors support HDCP (the "-CP" stands for "Content Protection", HDCP is encrypted HDTV-video over DVI, to prevent piracy) while Apple's do not, and many discussions revolve around the lack of HDCP on Apple displays. Truth is, this only matters if you are going to hang the monitor on the wall and use it as a HDTV connected to a HDTV receiver with HDCP-output. You probably won't buy a professional photography LCD (Apple) and use it as a TV, but if you want to then you are out of luck (unless you buy a HDCP-remover to connect between the source and the monitor). It's also important to note that almost none of the computer-LCDs that exist today support HDCP, and the main reason the Dell supports it is because it's a TV/monitor hybrid; so they added HDCP in order to future-proof it for emerging TV-standards. It's your choice if this is a dealbreaker or not.

    What about the contrast and brightness?
    We're nearing the end now. Let this be a guide for the future; you shouldn't compare monitors using only on-paper specifications such as contrast and brightness, there is so much more depth to it than just using such a one-dimensional comparison. Speaking of which; you can't really compare those two aspects between these particular monitors in the first place since both monitors use different technology and would therefore look different even if they had the exact same brightness & contrast, since the Dell still uses an inferior display panel (S-PVA) to the Apple Cinema Display (S-IPS). As a way to compare the brightness of the two, I would best describe it as looking at a Dell 2407WFP at full brightness felt like I was looking into the sun, whereas the Apple 23" ACD felt like I was staring at a brightly lit lightbulb. Both of them had to be turned down a lot, so brightness is not an issue on either of them.

    I'll leave you with the specifications and features of each monitor so that you can see what accessories you receive with the Dell. Hopefully I haven't bored you too much and you can now make an informed decision based on your needs rather than the current misinformation ("the Dell has better brightness & contrast so it's foolish to pay more for Apple"). You get what you pay for and Apple's professional LCD-panel is what gives it the higher price; professionals should look beyond the price difference and instead consider how vital it is that the colors they see on screen will come out the same in print, or that their graphics design is not done on a monitor with inaccurate colors.

    Please spare us any "I can't see how the Dell colors could possibly be worse", if you are happy with the Dell then you're not in the target market for professional displays and should keep your opinion to yourself. The difference is kind of like going from 16-bit to 32-bit colors but not as extreme.
     
  2. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #2
    Um...ok. I just think the Apple is prettier, that's why I have it. I can't believe you actually found the energy to type all that...get out much?
     
  3. suneohair macrumors 68020

    suneohair

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    #3
    Someone did this already. It was a more general comparison of S-PVA and S-IPS. But yeah.
     
  4. c.hilding thread starter macrumors member

    c.hilding

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    #4
    Exactly, I even opened with the statement that others have talked about this before me. But as you know, most monitor discussions here are misinformed and think it's correct to only compare three things: looks, brightness and contrast. This thread is meant to be a reference for any further discussions. Next time someone asks about the difference, I hope someone will point them here so they can make an informed decision. Comparing the 24" Dell to the 23" Apple seems to be the most common monitor discussion and most threads compare the above 3 aspects and are ignorant to the difference in LCD technologies and target market.
     
  5. djkny macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Great post --at least, from what I can gather. But who in the world has time to read through the whole thing? I hate to be reductionist, but knock it all down to one or two points in fine print. Time is precious!
     
  6. whawhat macrumors 6502

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    #6
    the only thing i liked about the dell was the price and all the extra inputs. but since i got my 23" acd used for only 600 i am quite content
     
  7. asencif macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Maybe condensing it a bit would be good, however for those that are considering making a $650 - $1000 purchase, I think they should take the time to do some research. With the OP, all the research is pretty much done for, so good job on this post and should be a sticky on the Mac Peripherals thread.

    One thing not mentioned is the quality control of the latest batch of 23 inch ACD's. While there is a pixel policy, the pink hue monster has been rearing its head lately for many. Just look at the Mac Peripherals and even this Buying Tips forum to find all the 23 inch pink complaints and backlight bleed. When someone deems color representation crucial, the pink will make grey's look brighter and way off. Some have even seen the pink tones heavily on the finder windows.

    I am considering taking my 23 inch ACD back because of the slight pink hue and backlight bleed that hurts the blacks from being completely solid black.
     
  8. c.hilding thread starter macrumors member

    c.hilding

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    #8
    Thanks for the praise!

    Most people that are about to spend hundreds of dollars on something want a very thorough explanation. I've covered everything there is to know; with the pros and cons of each monitor and from a neutral standpoint.

    At least skimming through the article would answer your question. Pay attention to the things in bold as they denote a change of subject. Read the conclusion in particular. But everything in the article is important so if you're a buyer you should read it in its entirety.
     
  9. andiwm2003 macrumors 601

    andiwm2003

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    #9
    with all the dust and fingerprints and other dirt on my screen i doubt there is a difference between the apple and the dell.:eek:

    but what is important to me is that the dell has a faint humming sound while the apple is totallty silent. i still have the dell and i'll keep it till it breaks.
     
  10. bearbo macrumors 68000

    bearbo

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    #10
    try this

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=231339

    the difference is the other thread sounds more like unbiased information rather than advertisement
     
  11. xfiftyfour macrumors 68030

    xfiftyfour

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    #11
    I don't think anyone here would need convincing to buy the ACD over the Dell if the ACD was cheaper!
     
  12. c.hilding thread starter macrumors member

    c.hilding

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    #12
    You're right, I considered writing about the possibility of getting a pink screen, but chose to leave it out for several reasons. First off, the reports come from people who have the problem, you never see people making a thread "My Apple ACD is perfect". Happy customers are much less likely to make a post about it. Secondly, writing about the unlikely, but possible scenario of getting a broken Apple LCD is trivial, even Dell sends out faulty units at times and if you get a bad Apple ACD, just ask for a replacement, they care about their pro users. And lastly, it would bloat the article to add "what if"-information. But still, point taken.
     
  13. Macnoviz macrumors 65816

    Macnoviz

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    #13
    great post, and it doesn't push you into buying one monitor. I myself am now looking more towards the Dell, because I'm not a professional, and although I occasionally do some video editing, I don't mind the color being a little off (I'm sure the difference will be noticable, but hardly a problem for small movies)

    Being able to use it as TV is also handy if you're a student, so that's another plus
     
  14. c.hilding thread starter macrumors member

    c.hilding

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    #14
    That thread takes another approach, it's much shorter and more generalized; ie. talking about all the different LCD panel types (that info can be found on the Wikipedia article I linked to at the top). It also skims through a lot of details that any prospective buyer needs to consider.

    What exactly qualifies as an "advertisement" to you? Please do enlighten me. :rolleyes: Maybe you didn't want to hear that the Apple display is for graphics professionals but the Dell is for consumers? If that's the case then I'd love to see you try and disprove the entire LCD industry by saying that PVA (Dell) is better than the professional-grade IPS (Apple). ;)
     
  15. darkwing macrumors 65816

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    #15
    The 2407s are actually 6-bit per color and thus show 18-bit color. Not 16-bit.
     
  16. jwhite macrumors newbie

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    #16
    Thanks for the informative post. I happen to be in process of researching LCD monitors (professional level), upgrading from CRTs.

    I really appreciate the users who put the extra time, thought and research into their posts for the benefit to others. Complete unbiased data and fair realworld comparisions are the basis for making sound buying decisions. I would much rather spend extra time pouring over data if it helps me make prudent decisions, especially when Selecting expensive technologies or hardware. I find it a big waste of time having to skim through numerous uninformed rants or dising of other's for their sincere efforts at sharing real knowledge – the real value of this forum.

    BTW - I ran across this link somewhere (probably elsewhere on this forum ;), listing major monitor manufacturers and the LCD types used in each. (IPS, S-IPS, PVA etc).

    http://aryarya.net/wassyoi/lcdmemo.html

    Keep up the knowlege sharing. Down with Dis...
    Thanks, JW
     
  17. Killyp macrumors 68040

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    #17
    Plus the ACDs make it easy to adjust the brightness which makes them easier to work on for a long time...

    It's like comparing the MacPro to the equivalent Dell if it was cheaper. Pretty good V incredible.
     
  18. c.hilding thread starter macrumors member

    c.hilding

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    #18
    Congratulations on your choice of a monitor, I'm glad that the thread has already helped someone just minutes after posting.

    As for the color inaccuracy, don't worry about it if you're just watching things on it and doing hobbyist video editing, it won't matter at all. The accuracy is vital when you need a neutral monitor in order to author neutral content that looks good wherever you play it. For instance, if your monitor exaggerates the color red, and you author a DVD where you've carefully balanced the colors using your inaccurate monitor, whenever you play that on a neutral monitor you'll see a huge lack of red. Or inversely, if your monitor has too little red, you'll see too much red on a neutral monitor, and extreme amounts of red a monitor that exaggerates reds. This is why an accurate and neutral representation on your monitor is needed if your content has to look good wherever it's viewed. In your case, the Dell will be just fine.

    Precisely, I've seen one used as a TV playing Xbox360, it works great! ;)
     
  19. panoz7 macrumors 6502a

    panoz7

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    #19
    Do you know if it's even possible to dim the backlight on the Dell? That feature is immensely important to me.

    I'll be ordering a new monitor in the coming weeks. I've pretty much narrowed it down to a used Eizo or an Apple. Do you think an Eizo with last year's technology would be better then a new Cinema Display? Does anyone know whether you can dim the backlights on the Eizos?
     
  20. c.hilding thread starter macrumors member

    c.hilding

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    #20
    Thanks for pointing out this typo, 3x6 is of course 18, not 16. ;) By the way, I didn't want to mention this as it would bloat the article with geeky information, but for anyone interested in the difference between 18-bit and 24-bit (as it may not sound big numerically), simply consider this:

    6 bits:
    1+2+4+8+16+32=63

    8 bits:
    1+2+4+8+16+32+64+128=255

    Then you have to add 1 to each number to count in a fully black subpixel, so the difference is staggering; 64 possible shades per green/red/blue subpixel on a 6-bit display, versus 256 shades per subpixel on an 8-bit display.

    A 6-bit display can only show 262144 colors natively (64*64*64) while an 8-bit display is able to show 16777216 colors natively (256*256*256). The 6-bit displays then dither those few colors in order to artificially show up to 16.2 million colors, a fake way of achieving "more" colors but it looks terrible.

    Dell doesn't care about professional users, they went from 24-bit to 18-bit just to gain speed in the milliseconds for their update rate (it allowed Dell to go from 16ms to 6ms). The race for having the quickest display is ridiculous, as manufacturers ignore quality in order to achieve higher speeds.

    It has become the way for unknowing consumers to gauge a monitor by looking at the update rate. It's as ridiculous as the current marketing of looking only at the number of megapixels in a camera to determine its quality.
     
  21. Counterfit macrumors G3

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  22. asencif macrumors 6502

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    #22
    Yeah agreed that it would make the post much longer. The only reason I mentioned it was to have future purchasers a heads up on the current issues that are going around with the displays. Before Revision 3 the Dell had a lot of people complaining with their problems.

    As for the 23" ACD, I slightly disagree in regards that the problem might not be as big. Lately, there has been a huge increase in posts complaining about this same issue. Also, in the Apple discussion boards there has been more postings as well. I have read from some that many don't know it's there unless they are told about it or start needing to do something with Grey color or play a DVD for the first time with low, or no light in their room.
     
  23. Macnoviz macrumors 65816

    Macnoviz

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    #23

    Don't get me wrong, I was speaking hypothetically. First I need to raise enough money to get to Sydney for the World Youth Days in 2008 (I am also thinking about another route, instead of flying from Belgium to Sydney I'm considering to hitchhike to Moscow, take the transsiberian to Peking, and then going to Sydney from there) anywho, after that's settled I'l start thinking about a new monitor
     
  24. c.hilding thread starter macrumors member

    c.hilding

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    #24
    Wow, that's a fantastic journey, I'd go for the hitchhiking route. Reminds me of when Ewan McGregor (yes, from Star Wars :eek: ) traveled by motorcycle across the globe. He started in the US and went around, crossing places like an extremely inhospitable Russian marsh, and being taken in by some old Siberian women when he almost lost his toes to frostbite! He finally ended up back in the US again. It was fascinating, especially since he's an actor. ;)
     
  25. Dreadnought macrumors 68020

    Dreadnought

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    #25
    We use Eizo at work, I have a dual 17" setup. Unfortunately you can only dim the contrast and brightness, not the backlight. Also look for the product number. If it has a P in it, it's the pro line, with a B (I believe, or C) it's the consumer line and that is just the same as a Dell, it hurts your eyes and gives you a headache when you are looking at it all day. My collegue has two 19" consumer (read cheap!) and I used them for a day before I returned them to him. Also the resolution of the consumer line is (much) lower.
     

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