High up on that list-actually, the only entries on that list-are my brief flings with Apple's 30-inch monster LCD, and a slightly longer relationship with its little sister, the 23-inch Widescreen Cinema HD Display...
Day 1:First Impressions
After my short interaction with the big momma of LCDs, everything else seems tiny in comparison. Ergo, when I first reluctantly laid eyes on the 23-inch screen, I couldn't help but wonder if it would be worth the trouble to set up and use, when I know that this coupling is doomed to separation. In retrospect, I have to admit, continued exposure to top-of-the-line hardware has spoiled us reviewers rotten.
After the trouble I had setting the 30-inch screen up, I've become a little wary of Apple's LCD displays-I decide to use it on a testbed first. Display connected and system powered, the boot up and Windows welcome screens reveal themselves as smoothly as the LCD's metallic bezel.
Encouraged by this quick success, I hotfoot it to my system and perform the requisite rites, setting my Display Properties to 1920 x 1200 in anticipation. A power-down and connection later, the PC is turned on. Then… nothing!. I can see the hard disk working furiously as Windows XP ostensibly loads, but all I get is a cold blank stare from the screen, with an occasional wink of its LED, as if taunting me with its reluctance to play ball.
A tense minute of waiting follows, ending in the appearance of the blazing welcome screen, as if light at the end of the tunnel. Success!
Day 8: Apple's On My Desktop!
Time does fly when you're having fun. A week has passed like the blur of a cheetah at full flow, like a McLaren F1 screaming down the home stretch, like Lalu Yadav when he spots CBI officials. And yet, a small voice at the back of my head continues to nag me. "Why does the LCD never display the POST or Windows boot screens? Beware the allure of the big screen, my spellbound friend." I have no answer to its questions. All I can do is ignore that little voice and pray that all goes well.
Day 16: So Far, So Good
All has indeed gone very well thus far. The display handles all the resolutions I throw at it with consummate ease. Everything just looks better on an Apple (Hey! Maybe they can use that as a caption in one of their ads). An Apple-standard 170-degree viewing angle, aluminium bezel, all-digital interface, a minimum of buttons-the polished sophistication that is associated with an Apple product. I think I'm in love. And yet…
Day 25: Looks Like The Honeymoon's Over
The inevitable happens. One fine day, XP decides it needs some excitement and crashes. Since my HDD has had this kind of trouble before, I tighten its connections and restart. For five minutes, I look patiently towards the blank screen, hoping for signs of life. No luck. Another restart, yet the situation remains the same. What exactly is going on? Is the BIOS giving me an error message, is Windows displaying a BSOD? Well, there's only one way to find out.
I dig out my 17-inch CRT and hook it up. Two minutes later, the problem is solved and Apple's display stands exposed. Its inability to display the resolution required by the POST and boot screens is a flaw that can only be described as fatal. This deficiency on its part seems unforgivable, especially when work piles up and deadlines loom large.
Day 30: Time To Say Goodbye
But time is a great healer. When the folks at Apple come calling to claim their baby, I experience a lot more than just a twinge of regret. I consider threatening them with a bad review to buy me more time with the device, but the concept of editorial integrity comes to the rescue at the last moment.
The 23-inch Cinema Display is most certainly a device I would like to call my own. With some judicious saving and patient waiting, the price might just be within my reach. Of course, I'll have to save a little extra for a backup display too…