I justified the extra expense like this: "If I have a cool computer, it needs to have the matching cool monitor." My partner agreed, and insisted we not get some beige monster, since our computer would be visible to guests. And once again, Apple wins the prize on style with their new 15-inch Flat-panel LCD and 17-inch Flat CRT displays.
The 15-inch Flat-panel LCD has a new, lower price of $999 -- down from $1,299 -- and styling similar to that of the 22-inch Cinema Display. The monitor itself, in terms of image quality and overall look, hasn't changed much. Color images still look beautiful, and grayscale images are displayed without moir patterns. The 15-inch Flat-panel LCD also maintains the native resolution of 1,024 by 768. Naturally, image quality is best when set to the native resolution, but in this case, the other settings actually cause images to appear somewhat distorted.
Unlike the original 17-inch Studio Display, the new model features a true flat CRT, which is easier on the eye (see our review of 17-inch flat CRT displays for more information). The new 17-inch CRT also takes on a new design that makes it look like something out of the 1950's, perhaps from Disney's Imagineers. It has a translucent back end, identical to that of an iMac, which allows you to see the inner workings of the monitor.
Both new monitors incorporate the new Apple Display Connector (ADC), which cuts back on cord clutter. The ADC carries the video signal, USB, and power from your computer to the monitor. Surprisingly enough, the connector is only about an inch and a half wide. The single cable also allows for easy setup: the plug simply snaps into the back of your new G4 or the bottom of your G4 Cube. One potential problem with the new all-in-one solution, however, is that should anything go wrong -- a cord gets damaged, stops working, or simply needs to be longer -- you might be out of luck. In addition, because of the ADC, the new monitors are compatible only with the latest model of G4s, and at present, there is no third-party solution.
Another new feature on the monitors is the ability to turn on and wake your sleeping computer. Simply holding your finger over the power button on the 15-inch Flat-panel LCD or pressing the button your 17-inch CRT does the trick. The lights on the displays also throb in tandem with the throbbing light on the machine when the computer is asleep. Though not an important feature, the effect is aesthetically pleasing. And you read correctly: the 15-inch Flat-panel LCD has no physical buttons, but rather "hot spots" located on the front. By holding your finger over either the power/sleep icon or the monitor control icon, you can activate that feature. Just so that you don't accidentally trigger the wrong command, the hot spots light up when you pass your finger over them. It's a nice added touch that makes the display well worth the price.
These displays are the perfect compliment to the four new G4 machines, especially the Cube. Their elegant design, unique features, and easy setup will please even the pickiest of users. The price drop on the LCD also makes it a serious competitor in its category. It should be noted that since the LCD uses the entire 15-inch surface and the CRT has an actual viewable area of 16 inches, the difference in viewable area between the two displays is just slightly less than one inch.