Apple Thunderbolt Display versus Dell UltraSharp U2711

This post was written in both Romanian and English. See below for English.
Post scris si-n romana si-n engleza. Vezi mai jos pentru engleza.

Apple Thunderbolt and Dell UltraSharp U2711

Salivam eu de multa vreme la un Apple Cinema Display dar tot timpul m-a cam descurajat pretul: undeva pe la 1000 EUR.

Stiind cam ce inseamna un panou IPS, nu prea imi doresc altceva, am un iMac vechi si stiu ce inseamna un display bun. Mai ales ca ma mandresc ca mai fac si ceva munca de designer. Asa ca mi-am muscat unghiile si am asteptat.

Astazi, oamenii de la iFixit s-au jucat putin cu cel mai nou display de 27″ de la Apple: Apple Thunderbolt Display. L-au desfacut in bucati si, surpiza: ecranul e facut de LG si este absolut identic si la fel cu cel din Dell UltraSharp U2711. Curios din fire, ma dusei sa compar monitoarele.

Evident, aceeasi rezolutie, 2560 x 1440, acelasi contrast, 1000:1, amandoua 350 cd luminozitate, amandoua 178 grade unghi vizibilitate orizontal si vertical.

Mai ramane sa comparam si celelate aspecte importante pentru un monitor, adica nici unul! E acelasi ecran, pentru numele domnului Popescu!

De fapt, la un monitor te mai intereseaza putintel si design-ul (unde poate ar castiga Apple) si conectivitatea. In cate feluri poti sa legi un calculator de un display Apple? Um, intr-un singur fel, prin portul Thunderbolt. In cate feluri poti sa faci asta cu un Dell U2711? Pai sa vedem: un VGA, un HDMI, doua DVI-uri,  un Component, un Compozit, chiar si un DisplayPort!

Mai ramane de comparat doar pretul. Astazi, un Apple Thunderbolt e sub 4300 RON, un Dell U2711 sub 2700 RON. O diferenta de 1600 de lei noi nouti.

Na, poate ca ma insel eu, dar pentru mine decizia e simpla…

——- English version

Apple Thunderbolt and Dell UltraSharp U2711

So, I’ve been drooling for a while thinking about a new Apple Cinema Display, but the price was always a bit of a turn off: about 1000 EUR.

Because I know what an IPS panel means, I really don’t want anything else, I have an old iMac and I know what a good display is. Especially since I take pride in being a web designer as well. So I’ve been biting my nails and waiting.

Today, the folks at iFixit had their way with the newest 27-inch display form Apple: the Apple Thunderbolt Display. They tore it apart and, surprise: the screen is manufactured by LG and is the same screen as found in the Dell UltraSharp U2711. Intrigued, I set out to find out more.

Obviously they have the same reoslution, 2560 x 1440, same contrast, 1000:1, both have a luminosity of 350 cd, both have a 178 deg viewing angle.

What is left to be compared are the other important aspects of a display, namely none! It’s the same screen for crying out loud!

Actually, when it comes to displays you really want to know a little more about the design (maybe Apple would win here) and conectivity. How many ways are there to connect a computer to an Apple display? Well, only one, using the Thunderbolt port. How many ways to do it with the Dell U2711? Let’s see: there’s a VGA port, HDMI, two DVI ports, Component, Composite and even a DisplayPort!

There’s only the price left to compare. Today, an Apple Thunderbolt is just below 4300 RON (1000 EUR) and a Dell U2711 just under 2700 RON (630 EUR).

I might be wrong, but it looks like an easy decision…

8 Responses to “Apple Thunderbolt Display versus Dell UltraSharp U2711”

  1. Bl0b says:

    Did you buy a Dell 2711? Are you happy with it?

    According to ifixit the monitors are not exactly the same. The dell one has a faster refresh rate and it displays more colors.


  2. Squirrel says:

    Actually, I did buy the Dell a short while after. It’s a very good display. You do want to take into account the gloss factor. On one hand, the Apple display is sometimes a mirror, but has very deep, saturated (but natural) colors. The Dell has some sort of mate coating. It certainly doesn’t create any reflections, but there is a downside: on a white bright screen, you will notice some sort of grainy “dirt” because of the coating.
    I would think most people will not be disturbed by that, it’s not really noticeable unless you’re illustrating on a white background or something. I’m not unhappy with the screen, but I would give glossy screens a second chance now…
    Another factor, calibrating was difficult for me. I am not used to calibrating my displays (I do mostly web work, almost never for the print). I used a Colormunki that gave me less than satisfactory results. I followed instructions on severeal websites, did the calibration in different conditions (lights on/of, black cloth on the screen, etc, etc) but never liked the end results. Usually there was a slight tint in bright greys towards green or red. I ended up performing the basic OS X manual calibration and that worked out for me.
    In the end, the grainy effect of the coating is slightly disturbing, but it’s a huge, massive-resolution kind of screen. I use it on a new Macbook Pro, using a Thunderbold – DisplayPort adapter and have no issues.

  3. bl0b says:

    Thanks. I was curious about calibrating the monitors as well. I think I am going to buy an Apple Thunderbolt Display. It’s a bit more expensive but I like the glossy display. It didn’t bother me in the past. The only downside is that it doesn’t work with a PC while the Dell one works, so you can use it with other computers than macs. If something happens to my laptop it becomes paper weight.

    Do you use it with two screens, laptop & display, or do you close the lid?

  4. Squirrel says:

    Hi bl0b,
    I heard closing the lid is not a good idea because the laptop doesn’t cool properly anymore. I chose to keep the lid open beside my Dell, but rarely ever use it’s screen for work (it’s so tiny compared to the big one). There is also some strange little bug (I saw many people complaining about it on the apple forums) that causes the macbook not to go to sleep when you close the lid and it’s connected to an external display. I don’t know if this happens with apple’s displays, but in my case it gets quite annoying because it goes into this never-ending cycle of trying to sleep and waking up again…
    About connectivity, yes, I can plug in my other (PC) laptop through DVI and watch movies or whatever, for me that’s a plus.
    Also, with large monitors like these, you should know there are limitations to screen resolution. For example, in my case, I need to use either a Thunderbolt-DisplayPort adapter or a Dual-DVI cable. Any of the other (plenty of) connectivity options on the Dell will not be able to provide it’s full resolution!
    Hope this helps a little.

  5. bl0b says:

    Are you saying that you don’t get the 2560×1440 resolution?

    Thank you for your answers!

  6. Squirrel says:

    My understanding is that you can only get that resolution through Dual DVI or DisplayPort.
    I think simple DVI and the other connectivity options are simply technically unable to do it.
    There’s a lot of discussions on the Apple forums about this.

  7. bl0b says:

    Apple pisses me off more and more by not producing hardware compatible with other brands (or compatible but not quite there).

    Anyway, thanks again.

  8. Squirrel says:

    I can see your point. It’s not just Apple. The other day I was trying my Nokia headphones (3.5 mm jack) on my Blackberry. Same connector but the sound has this trembling quality (sounds like a bad codec or something). All other headphones work correctly. So, either RIM or Nokia decided to add this silly “restriction” so that you cannot normally use any 3.5 mm headphones even if you do have the connector. Same story with the Nokia micro-USB cable that won’t charge the phone on a PC except under certain conditions or with a certain “certified” cable. The list can go on…

    In this case, I’m not sure if it’s an Apple restriction. It might have something to do with the cables…

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