The Apple Studio Display looks like a smaller cousin to the wide-screen Apple Cinema Display, sharing the same gorgeous, clear, easel-like, plastic casing. In operation, it's truly a set-and-forget product, and it fared well in CNET Labs' quality tests. Just plug the single Apple Display Connector (ADC) directly into the latest Power Mac G4 or Power Mac G4 Cube, and turn on the computer; the display lights up in response.
And therein lies the biggest advantage and the biggest problem with the newest line of Apple monitors. The ADC is an all-purpose connection that carries the digital video signal, AC power, and a USB interface from your Mac to the display. It may look the same as the connector on the back of your older G4, but it's not; the ADC works only with Power Mac G4s built since July 2000 or the Power Mac G4 Cube, and it won't work with any PCs. You don't have the option of using standard cables, and currently, there are no available VGA converter cables or graphics boards with the new connector, from any source. Right now, the only hope on the horizon is 3dfx Interactive, which told CNET that a future generation of its Voodoo graphics cards will support ADC. Additionally, two USB ports at the rear of the display let you attach peripherals to your Mac.
This LCD monitor produces a picture that is crystal clear, with perfect geometry (something that can't be said for most CRT displays). The brilliance of the display is striking, whether you're looking at a plain Mac desktop, an image in Photoshop, or a DVD movie. In fact, while viewing The Fifth Element, we were particularly pleased with the display's rich, film-quality output.
The brightness was consistent from edge to edge, with only a slight variation from top to bottom, though it was unnoticeable in full-color pictures. You also have to move pretty far off center--beyond the 120 degrees specified by Apple--before the image washes out (a characteristic of all LCD displays).
Cruise Control or Losing Control?
Dislike fiddling around with controls? You'll find the Apple Studio Display a revelation. There's next to nothing to adjust--just a brightness control, which you access by opening the Monitors Control Panel in the Mac operating system. Apple's internal circuitry is designed to keep colors consistent over the life of the product. But fiddlers might be frustrated: If you opt to use Apple's ColorSync software to adjust the hues, you'll find that the red, blue, and green intensity adjustments are missing. All you can set is color temperature (which controls the intensity of the color white and overall brightness) and overall gamma (midtones).