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  • Memo to Apple: How About Updating Your Displays?

    March 8th, 2007

    In yesterday’s commentary, I revealed the sad truth that I am actually using a Dell display. Yes, a Dell display. Now was it just due to the fact that the price is currently $629 for Dell’s 2407WFP 24-inch widescreen display, whereas Apple’s 23-inch HD Cinema Display is $999?

    Well, certainly price can be a factor here, but it’s also true that Apple’s display is much prettier, which is why you see it more often on TV shows.

    But there’s more: The Dell affords a slightly larger screen at the same 1920×1200 resolution as the Apple, which means that smaller elements, such as text, are a bit larger and more readable to my aging eyes. More to the point, The 2407WFP has a slightly higher contrast ratio, and you can certainly see the difference in the midtones. The Dell also incorporates four USB ports, compared to Apple’s two, and a card reader. All right, the Dell doesn’t have a FireWire port, but that’s nothing I’ve missed, since the ones on my desktop Mac are sufficient for my backup drives.

    In other words — looks aside — the Dell is a better product, at a better price. Apple needs to read this real carefully, because I don’t think I’m alone in reaching this conclusion.

    In fact, it very much appears as if Apple has set its monitor line aside. Other than a price reduction and some minor spec enhancements, how long has it been since there was a major upgrade? Sure, the Mac rumor sites come along every so often and claim that a refresh is imminent, but it never seems to happen.

    Now although I prefer the Dell in this instance, the fact is that Apple’s displays look great, and perform quite well in most respects. Other models might be a little better, a little worse, but Apple isn’t giving you much of a price break. In fact, I truly wonder how many of these products are being sold these days, and what Apple’s goals might be.

    Sure, it’s true that most Macs sold these days are note-books. The iMac also garners a fair number of sales, so monitors are only needed for the Mac mini and the Mac Pro, where sales aren’t quite as strong, and to replace older displays. So maybe Apple doesn’t feel the pressure.

    Now, if I had a say in the matter — and I surely don’t — I’d suggest that Apple try to boost performance a bit, and cut prices substantially. The competition beats them in almost every respect. There doesn’t have to be a new design, a built-in iSight camera or anything of the sort.

    At the same time, it would be nice to see Apple introduce a 17-inch widescreen display, at perhaps $299, for the Mac mini customer. Yes, $299 is not terribly economical for a screen of that size, but it’s not super high for a premium product. Moreover, it’s doubtful that the person who craves a Mac mini is really going to want a 20-inch or larger display, for otherwise they might as well consider an iMac, which is a more cost-effective combo.

    At one time, Apple was always known for its stellar displays. They almost always had an entrant in different price and size categories. But development has stagnated. It’s not that LCD technology hasn’t advanced, because it has, although most of it is focused on high-definition TV. LCDs panels are also a whole lot cheaper, which is why you can buy those large flat-screen sets for a price that’s almost affordable.

    So what is Apple’s game plan here?

    I can’t say that I ever know — and certainly the Mac rumor sites haven’t shown any great insights in this area. On the other hand, when I find a Dell to be both better and cheaper, I have deep concerns.

    Naturally, Apple could easily render all this speculation moot, simply by refreshing its display line with cheaper, better products. Should that happen, I can always bring up an argument about something else. Believe me, I haven’t run out of possibilities.

    Now let’s see. Oh yes: Is Leopard development stalling? No, I think I’ve covered that already.



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    7 Responses to “Memo to Apple: How About Updating Your Displays?”

    1. Dana Sutton says:

      ” it’s also true that Apple’s display is much prettier, which is why you see it more often on TV shows.” I see lots of Mac equipment displayed on shows like 24 and Studio 60 and can’t help wondering whether the producers just like to dress up their sets with cool-looking Mac gear or whether Apple is engaged in an active product-placement campaign.

      Yes, Gene, the price-points for Apple monitors are no longer competitive, they’re way out of line (you can even get a Dell 30″ for $500 less than the Apple one). LCD computer and television monitors are getting cheaper to manufacture all the time, and any company that’s slow in passing the savings on to its customers is going to get the living crap beat out of it in a very competitive market. Look how Vizio is shaking up the LCD television industry.

    2. WingSpread says:

      Sorry, Gene, you’ve just demonstrated you’re out of the loop. Or maybe this article is merely a teaser, to get readers thinking about why Apple’s new displays are so dilatory. Haven’t you been keeping an eye on Apple’s new patents for the last few months? Just thinking about those patents and the displays and Apple’s product synergy, … my, oh my … makes me smile.

    3. Sorry, Gene, you’ve just demonstrated you’re out of the loop. Or maybe this article is merely a teaser, to get readers thinking about why Apple’s new displays are so dilatory. Haven’t you been keeping an eye on Apple’s new patents for the last few months? Just thinking about those patents and the displays and Apple’s product synergy, … my, oh my … makes me smile.

      As has been pointed out by others, filing or receiving a patent doesn’t necessarily translate into a new product. And even if a new product is on the horizon, there are no guarantees as to when it’ll appear.

      Peace,
      Gene

    4. Norman Brooks says:

      Hi, Gene. There are those of us who own minis and use them to drive a 37″ monitor. I find that very easy on my not aging but already old eyes. The Westinghouse LVM-37w3 1080p HDTV has the DVI connections to be a very usable monitor and is considerably cheaper than Dell’s or Apple’s 30″ offering.

      Norman

    5. andrew z says:

      My experience is similar. I bought the last CRT monitor sold. 2 years later it was getting the “click of death” sound. I took it into an Apple certified dealer and after paying $40 was told I could spend $750 to have it shipped back to Apple and repaired. Since I had spent $350 IIRC, it was a no brainer to get a new monitor.

      I compared specs and price points on Samsung, Dell and Apple monitors and concluded the Dell offered me the best bang for the buck. It was also around 60% of the equivalent Apple model.

      Until Apple becomes more competitive in this space I won’t be buying Apple branded monitors no matter how cool they look on my desktop.

    6. Jon says:

      There are very good reasons Apple’s monitors are more expensive, beyond Apple premium pricing.

      A number of graphics pros weighed in on this in response to a MacWorld Feb. 23, 2007 review of HP’s LP3065 monitor.

      I quote from the response of reader mdawson:
      “….specs are nothing more than a starting point…, specifications do not necessarily give a good picture of how a product will perform. The fact that Dell uses the same LCD panel in their UltraSharp displays as Apple does in their Cinema Displays does not mean that the two products will perform the same. The electronics in the Cinema Display are completely different from the electronics in an UltraSharp. Apparently the electronics in a Cinema Display earns Apple’s displays a SWOP certification; the UltraSharps are not SWOP certified. Stating that there is no difference between the UltraSharp and Cinema Displays because they use the same Samsung panel is like stating that any given Mac released since the Intel transition is no different from any other Wintel PC because they are using the same Core or Core 2 processors.”

      He also states:
      “Apple designs its entire display line with the professional user in mind (e.g., photographers, desktop publishers, pre-press, et al.). Dell designs displays generally as inexpensive give-aways to compliment computer sales. That is not to say that the UltraSharps are cheap or sub-par, they are not as reviews can attest, but they are not manufactured to the standard to which Apple designs the Cinema Displays. Cinema Displays have much better image quality out-of-the-box before calibration whereas the UltraSharps are notorious for being too bright for pro imaging users even after calibration.”

      Reader dansterpower also reponded about SWOP:
      “Apple Cinema Displays are calibrated to SWOP standards at the factory. In fact the SWOP certification board works with Apple to enable Apple to build the custom profiles — you can verify this on
      http://www.swop.org and on Apple’s site — And we have discussed this issue with Apple itself in detail. This is a Driver-Based profile that is very useful right out of the box.”

    7. My experience is similar. I bought the last CRT monitor sold. 2 years later it was getting the “click of death” sound. I took it into an Apple certified dealer and after paying $40 was told I could spend $750 to have it shipped back to Apple and repaired. Since I had spent $350 IIRC, it was a no brainer to get a new monitor.

      I compared specs and price points on Samsung, Dell and Apple monitors and concluded the Dell offered me the best bang for the buck. It was also around 60% of the equivalent Apple model.

      Until Apple becomes more competitive in this space I won’t be buying Apple branded monitors no matter how cool they look on my desktop.

      I just wonder how those folks can demand more money than it costs to buy a new product to fix an old one.

      And do it with a straight face 🙂

      Peace,
      Gene

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