Review of the Apple Cinema HD Display 23” Widescreen LCD

A Look Back at Apple’s Cinema Display

Apple Cinema Display and Power Mac G5
Apple Cinema HD Display 23”, along with the Power Mac G5. Courtesy of Apple

Apple Cinema Display HD 23-inch (Aluminum) History

The 23-inch Apple Cinema Display HD was a follow-up to the, wait for it, Apple 23-inch Cinema Display that was originally introduced on March 21, 2002. Although the two desktop displays share similar names, they looked nothing alike. The 2002 version used a plastic frame that Apple referred to as a crystal clear enclosure. While it wasn't possible to see through the bulk of the display, the legs and bezel were indeed clear.

The aluminum version (M9178LL/A - A1082) was introduced on June 28, 2004, and used an all-aluminum enclosure that had the same general look as the iMacs that would be released in August of the same year.

Here's a great bit of trivia: the iconic iMac's L-shaped stand actually first appeared on the Apple Cinema Display product lineup, beating out the iMacs by a little over a month.

The aluminum Apple Cinema Display was designed to complement the then-new Power Macintosh G5, which marked the first use of the “cheese grater” case found on all Power Mac G5 and Mac Pro models until the 2013 introduction of the cylindrical Mac Pro.

The Cinema Display made use of the Apple Display Connector, a single port on the display that handled the power, video, USB, and FireWire port connections. This special single cable terminated in a breakout of standard DVI, USB, and FireWire ports that could be plugged into any Mac, or for that matter, a PC.

Power was provided by a separate external power brick.

Below is the original Apple Cinema Display product review:

The Bottom Line

Apple is known for its elegantly designed products, and the 23” Apple Cinema HD Display is no exception. It’s as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside. The power and brightness controls are tucked out of sight, so they don’t mar the display’s flawless exterior and brushed aluminum bezel.

A single cable keeps thing neat by providing a unified connection to the graphics input, a FireWire 400 port, a USB 2.0 port, and power.

The Apple Cinema HD Display isn’t quite perfect, though. Its adjustability is limited, and it doesn’t have any home entertainment connections (analog, S-video, composite, component).


  • Above-average image quality.
  • DVI input.
  • Two-port USB 2.0 hub.
  • Two FireWire 400 ports.


  • Expensive.
  • No home entertainment video connections.
  • Limited adjustment options.


  • 1920x1200 native resolution
  • DVI input
  • Two-port USB 2.0 hub
  • Two FireWire 400 ports
  • 170-degree horizontal and vertical viewing angles
  • VESA mount compatible

Expert Review: Apple Cinema HD Display 23” Widescreen LCD

Don’t be fooled by the 23” Apple Cinema HD Display’s somewhat slight appearance. The L-shaped base is compact, but it’s sturdier than it looks, and the display is well-balanced. It won’t be going anywhere unless you decide to move it.

There are fewer adjustment options than we’ve come to expect with displays. There are no height adjustment options, no swivel option, and no option to pivot between landscape and portrait mode. You can tilt the Apple Cinema HD Display up to 5 degrees forward and up to 25 degrees back, which aren’t particularly impressive numbers.

But unlike some displays, which require Herculean effort to move, adjusting this display takes just a light touch.

The Apple Cinema HD Display has a native resolution of 1920x1200 pixels, and a viewable area of 23 inches. It supports up to 16.7 million colors. The generous viewing angles of 170 degrees vertical and horizontal reduce drop-off around the edges. Images are clear and sharp, with vivid, true-to-life color and crisp details in highlights and shadows. Text is sharp and readable, even at small font sizes. The 16 ms pixel response time is ideal for playing your favorite action games or watching your favorite movies. I saw little to no ghosting or movement artifacts in my tests.

The Apple Cinema HD Display has two FireWire 400 ports and a two-port, self-powered USB 2.0 hub, so you can connect a variety of peripherals, including a digital camera, scanner, camcorder, or iPod dock. It also includes a DVI connector, so you can hook it up to a Mac or a PC.

There are no home entertainment connections (analog, S-video, composite, component), so even though the Apple Cinema HD Display is a match made in heaven for photography, movies, and video, it’s not quite suited to be the centerpiece of a home entertainment center.

Published: 7/5/2008

Updated: 9/14/2015


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