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Apple’s new 27 inch iMac designed to also work as a display

27 inch iMac as a display

Prince McLean, AppleInsider

Apple has designed its new 27“ iMac model to serve as an external display for DisplayPort devices such as recent MacBook and MacBook Pros.

Apple’s new 27 inch iMac designed to also work as a display

The new model is the first all-in-one system from Apple that doubles as an external display. Attaching a notebook or other device capable of DisplayPort output only requires the use of the appropriate cable. All of Apple’s recent Macs, from its notebooks to the iMacs and Mac mini, use a Mini DisplayPort connector, so linking a notebook to the display would require a cable with that connector on both ends.

There was previously no existing need for such a cable, so it may take time for these to appear on the market. The company’s existing 24“ LED Cinema Display, intended primarily for use with recent MacBooks, uses a combined cable that pairs USB, Mini DisplayPort, and power into a single wiring harness. The display itself lacks a Mini DisplayPort input port. Earlier Cinema Display models, such as the 30” screen Apple continues to sell, use DVI connectors instead.

The high end iMac now supplies a screen larger and with significantly more pixels than its standalone 24“ LED Cinema Display model (which for $899 sports a 1920×1200 resolution), providing a 2560×1440 native resolution nearly as large as the company’s 30” Cinema Display HD (which delivers 2560×1600 but costs $1799). With all those pixels on the new 27“ iMac, Apple couldn’t resist giving users the option to use the screen for more than just the iMac (note that the 21.5” iMacs do not support video input).

27 inch iMac as a display

Being able to support DisplayPort input also opens the possibility for users to connect a Blu-Ray player, TV tuner, or other device to their iMac for non-computing display purposes. The wide screen display is now a cinematic 16:9 aspect ratio, the same as HDTVs.

Like its most recent standalone display, the new 27“ iMac uses LED backlighting to provide an instant on picture that is uniformly bright. LED backlighting (versus the more conventional backlight using cold cathode fluorescent lamps) also supports finer grained brightness control, allows for a thinner enclosure, and happens to be more environmentally sensitive because it doesn’t require the use of highly toxic mercury.

Apple is also touting the new iMac display’s IPS (in-plane switching) screen technology, which it credits for the new iMac’s color reproduction performance and extremely wide 178 degree viewing angles. It has also returned to selling a VESA mounting adapter for its iMacs, which allows users to attach their 30.5 pound screen to a wall for HDTV-style viewing.


1 nini { 10.21.09 at 12:51 pm }

One thing about this is it’s plenty decent if not a little late on. If nothing else about the 27″ iMac makes it sell well (or, for me, consider buying a desktop again) it’ll be the fact that you can use it as a standalone monitor. I mean besides all the other loveliness that it has, never considered an iMac seriously until now.

2 cy_starkman { 10.21.09 at 5:35 pm }

There are a number of interesting things about the new iMacs. Apple IMHO has really delivered in this new update. The critics, shills and fanboys are going to have a hard time with this one one; in fact over on engadget where normally such articles attract waves of negative comments it has been unusually quiet and positive.

I’ve wondered for some time why Apple hasn’t offered display input in it’s iMacs and even now I find it curious that the 21″ model doesn’t as it offers 1080p.

Slightly off topic. While I know Daniel publishes to an international audience so Australian specific news isn’t going to make the page this update is very significant. Apple only changes pricing at each product refresh and it (seems) based on the currency exchange. As such the price drops which were delivered early this year translated into higher prices in Australia. Now though it’s a whole new story. The white MacBook in particular is now $1299 AUD. I took a trip to Harvey Norman (a sort of bestbuy that doesn’t sell macs only iPod/iPhone) yesterday to look at 13″ laptop pricing. This new offering smashes the competition, the closest 13″ was an Acer with CoreSolo for $1350, and Sony who offered C2D was at $1999.

This marks a turning point where the Apple product is actually cheaper and offers more than others in the category. Same with MBP pricing which has tumbled in some cases near $1000 (considering speed bumps etc) making a 15″ with dedicated gfx a $2600 decision vs a $3300 one.

I’ve heard that MS has been preparing AU laptop hunter ads. It’s going to suck to be them cause as of yesterday Apple has become the cheapest in some categories and neck n neck otherwise.

The small iMac also saw the return of the $1599 buy in which is excellent, it’s an easy choice.

Apple’s desktop consumer line has often taking a ribbing from the MS cheersquad for it’s last years performance (with no accounting that it is a laptop in a desk mounted enclosure) but with 16gig, 2TB, 16:9, 27″ and i5 and i7 options the only things left to grumble about are the front facing apple logo (rolls eyes) or that the “edge to edge” screen is a -bit- of spin by apple, which it is considering the large black bezel under the glass.

In fact with a buy in of $2199AUD for the base 27″ vs $2800 for a 30″ cinema display may as well buy the iMac as a monitor that can serve as a 2nd computer or “headless server” LOL.

Actually now there is a question Daniel, can the 27″ still run headless when being used as a display?

Whew that was a long one

3 Ephilei { 10.21.09 at 7:17 pm }

Is there a reason Apple doesn’t make this special cable? It makes every other cable. Given the only reason to make this cable is for people with both this model of iMac AND a recent Macbook (that’s $2,200 plus), it may be a long time before anyone bothers to make it. And if you have a powerful iMac, why would you use your less powerful macbook instead? You’d save a ton of money by ditching the iMac and buying a regular display. I’m sure some people would, but those are niche situations for a tiny niche market.

4 Akie { 10.21.09 at 11:30 pm }

If a MacBook Pro is connected to the new iMac using it as a display, how is the audio handled? Is it just a separate cable to use the iMac speakers?
Does the wifi work on the MacBook Pro when it closed, so it can talk to Airport Expressed connected to external speakers?

5 broadbean { 10.21.09 at 11:52 pm }

Apple has always been able to hold their own with laptops – unless you cheat by claiming your xyzPC laptop has a “bigger” screen and built-in VGA ports and four USB ports etc ;)

It’s always been the desktop range that had a harder time competing with expandable/powerful mid-level PC desktop boxes. Then even if you do get a nice Mac mini, it “cheapens” the brand when you can’t whack a nice but reasonably priced Apple monitor as it starts the range with a pretty expensive 24-inch LED display…

As for the point of this article. I wonder how well Full HD (1920 x 1080p) will upscale to 2560 x 1440…

6 cy_starkman { 10.22.09 at 2:26 am }


I also wondered the same thing, the notion of upscaling 1080p. It’s an interesting move.


Maybe, but what might be more supported and market engaging are Game Consoles, BluRay, Digital Camera etc – to iMac.

This I dare say is the toe test for the less legendary but more fabled Apple Television (as opposed to the cut down mac-mini style AppleTV)

7 uberVU - social comments { 10.22.09 at 6:03 am }

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