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Customer Review

238 of 255 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, well-designed -- and how to reduce the glare, September 22, 2011
This review is from: Apple MC914LL/B 27-inch Thunderbolt Display (Personal Computers)
I pre-ordered this monitor when it was first announced. I've now had it for over two years and use it every day. A few comments:

o The quality of the display itself is simply *perfect*. It's sharp, bright, and super-responsive. The colors only shift very slightly when the screen is tilted.

o The real estate here is *massive*. It's a world of difference from my 24" low-end Acer display. Keep in mind that when you're running it at the highest resolution (which most people will!), your menu bar and other parts of the OS X system will look a fair bit smaller than they do on other displays. Those parts of OS X are a fixed pixel size... so smaller pixels means they'll be smaller on the screen, and there's no simple way to enlarge them.

o Using it with Aperture / Lightroom in full-screen mode: it's only now that I really see how sharp photos out of my camera are. There's more pixels than I had before, and the pixels are sharper, and both of these help to make photos look amazing.

o I used my Huey Pro to calibrate it out of the box. The before and after calibration profiles are virtually identical -- that is, colors are perfect, with no adjustment needed.

o The display has a Thunderbolt port on the back. You can use this to daisychain additional Thunderbolt displays, if you have an extra $1K to spend. But you can *not* plug a regular DVI monitor into this port, even with a DVI-to-Thunderbolt adapter. The second screen is dark. The manual confirms that this doesn't work.

o The power, USB hub, speakers, camera, etc. just work so easily to dock my laptop too. It's all automatic and easy, and *everything* except for power goes through the Thunderbolt cable. So nice! (Kind of weird though that the power cable comes out at 90 degrees, while the Thunderbolt cable comes straight out.)

o The speakers sound very full... in fact, a little bit *too* much bass and a bit tubby. Could be because I'm used to listening to everything through my laptop's tinny speakers.

o One moderately annoying thing: when the computer is not outputting any audio, the monitor's audio circuit is entirely off. But when it needs to play any sound (new mail chime, etc.), you can hear the audio amplifiers turn on (click), play the sound, and then there's about 15 seconds of very quiet static / white noise before the amplifiers turn off (click) and go back to silence. This is exactly how the Mac's internal speakers work, and perhaps all computer speaker systems. The noise is not very loud at all. But in a quiet house, I notice it. If it was there all the time, it'd be less annoying than how it pulses on and off, like it does now. Turning the volume down doesn't make any difference.

o There's a very, very faint buzzing sound that comes from the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Sounds like a transformer. It's not audible if my laptop's fan is running. It is goes away if the brightness is turned down below 50% or so. It's very faint -- I only hear it if it's totally quiet. Much quieter than the amplifier noise above. Also, apparently there is a fan inside, but I've never once heard it.

o The glare from the glass front panel is fairly annoying. The glare is actually worse on the black bezel than the main display: reflections against a black background are a lot easier to see than against the white. On the screen itself, especially on light-colored app windows, the glare's not bad. (My office has indirect light from the outside right behind me.)

Still, I soon removed the glass panel and bezel from the display entirely. This improves the glare situation *immensely*. The large piece of glass is held on to the front by strong magnets, but you can remove it by carefully putting a couple of fingernails under the edge, and pulling it off toward the front. Or use suction cups (google around for info). No adhesive, no screws -- just magnets, and it'll come off easily. This will then expose the actual LCD panel itself. The panel is still quite reflective (it has a glossy finish), but then there's just one layer of glass to reflect, rather than two, so you get half the glare or less, plus no multiple-reflections. It also gets rid of *all* of the reflections from the bezel of course -- which were more annoying to me than on the display itself. There are then some magnets and screws and other hardware exposed, but so be it. I've seen others who have custom-fit a matte bezel to cover the innards up again. With the inner panel exposed you need to be careful about not dinging it accidentally.

But seriously Apple, please offer this in a non-glare version! The matte screen on my MacBook Pro is great to read all day, so I know you know how to do it!

p.s. A thousand bucks for a monitor? Seems like a lot, but I figure I'll get at least five years out of this, which is less than a buck a day.

** Update: My original version of this review was written after having it for two days. After two months of using it, it's still fabulous. The glare is less annoying than it was at first. The audio amplifiers clicking on and off are more annoying than I thought they'd be, so I usually send audio to my laptop instead of the Thunderbolt display. The huge size and beautiful color remain fantastic.

** Update: After 18 months, still loving it. I should mention that I've also recently purchased a 27" iMac. Apple has redesigned how the LCD and glass integrate in the iMac -- the glass looks to be laminated right onto the LCD surface. It is definitely superior to how this Thunderbolt display is made. The new iMac -- with the glass -- has less glare than the Thunderbolt display with the glass removed. Also, Apple seems to have improved their noise gate circuit -- the iMac monitor does not exhibit the same behavior with the audio clicking on and off.

Minor gripe: I wish this worked with the 'Mini DisplayPort' as well as the Thunderbolt interface. They are both Apple protocols and both use the same connector. Older MacBooks use the former, while the new ones use the latter. I have two laptops -- one old, one new -- and this monitor will only work with one of them.
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Tracked by 11 customers

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Showing 21-30 of 57 posts in this discussion
Posted on Apr 22, 2012 9:27:23 PM PDT
I know! Why are they selling glossy screens? My old iMac from 2006 has a nice matte screen. I'm waiting till they come out with a matt option. Should be within 3 or 4 months..

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 11:24:58 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 10, 2012 11:30:26 AM PDT]

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 11:30:40 AM PDT
Many thanks for the magnet tip, the glass is very easily removed. Any idea on where/how to obtain a bezel for it to cover up the innards of the monitor? Removed the current glass out of necessity because excessive reading through it caused eye trouble, but I would certainly appreciate a way to cover up the exposed screws and hardware as they are a bit distracting and unsightly.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 12:23:29 PM PDT
Hankk says:
Perhaps try a picture framing store? I bet they could put together a clean bezel for it for not too much $$... a black or metal four-piece frame could be cut exactly to size, and using the proper width materials you could cover the magnets and screws completely.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 26, 2012 8:07:57 PM PDT
fbuddha says:
Agreed. Not expensive also when we consider the true costs of our wonderful toys, made in China. If this were made in California, it would cost $4k!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2012 5:16:22 PM PDT
Eric Lin says:
Actually, Apple products are pretty overpriced and everybody knows this. A Catleap 27inch display has the same panel of a Thunderbolt. Granted, the display is Rated A or A- instead of A+, but people can't really tell the difference either way. Here's the rub: $300 price tag. This screen is pretty ridiculous when you consider the price.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2012 6:07:25 PM PDT
Except those eBay monitors basically have no warranty. Sure, if something goes wrong you can pay nearly the price of the monitor itself to ship it back to south korea. You also have to factor in the extra cost of adapters to go mini display port to dual link dvi (at least $100) and the lack of the extra ports.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2012 11:33:06 PM PDT
Eric Lin says:
Why would you want displayport? If you can afford 3 Catleaps, maybe. I took one look at the specs of the apple product and laughed to death. The colors for this monitor that costs almost 1k doesn't even show 1 billion colors and has a pretty ridiculous 12ms response time.

Sure, if the monitor dies you would have to pay, say, 50-80 bucks to ship it. But guess that, the extra 700 you'd spend on the Apple Thunderbolt? Yeah. That can cover quite a few shipments back to Korea. It can ship a whole entire army of those things back to Korea. Plus, visit the web and check out how many people are getting completely konked out Catleaps. Not many.

For a no frills gamers, one that wants no compromise, low input lag/blahblah, the no OSD, no scalar, 1 input is the way to go.

Are we trying to rationalize a $100 purchase for SOME people to buy a monitor $700 more expensive...?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2012 1:34:19 AM PDT
I wouldn't go as far as to say that you can fit two 1080p monitors into this display. It's maxed at around 1440p. It's still gorgeous though

Posted on Nov 11, 2012 4:11:50 PM PST
Okay, I do not get why you would pay $1000 for a display screen, when you can just go and buy a large television for that with USB ports and HDMI ports, so you can just hook your laptop to it and do stuff on a 55" + screen. This is just my personal opinion. I am not downing this, because I am not 100% sure why anyone buys it, but, if you are just using it for display, use a television.

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