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Wednesday, August 06, 2008, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Apple may have new Cinema Displays ready for Macworld

It's been over four years since Apple made a material announcement surrounding its line of standalone Cinema Displays, but that could finally change come early next year, says a new report.

According to MacRumors, the wheels are in motion for the Mac maker to introduce the first updates to its professional display line as early as the January Macworld conference that runs the 5th through the 9th.

While details are limited, it's suggested the new models will see a transition away from cold cathode fluorescent backlights (CCFLs) and towards LED backlights as part of a promise by Apple chief executive Steve Jobs last year to rid the company's displays of mercury "when technically and economically feasible."

At the time, Jobs noted that Apple's ability to completely eliminate fluorescent lamps in all of its displays "depends on how fast the LCD industry can transition to LED backlighting for larger displays."

While there are some LED-lit displays arriving on the market at sizes comparable to Apple's existing display line, pricing remains a limiting factor. Apple currently offers a trio of Cinema Displays for use alongside its Mac mini and Mac Pro desktop offerings, including a standard 20-inch, and 23- and 30-inch HD models.

However, Wednesday's report points out that commercially available 30-inch LED displays, like the Samsung XL30, cost upwards of $4300 dollars. Combined with an entry-level Mac Pro at $2,799.00, that would be draw a bill of over $7000.

Cinema Displays


By comparison, Apple's existing 30-inch HD Cinema Display fetches just $1799, or around half the cost of comparable LED models. Therefore, it's unclear how Apple would attempt to market a new line of LED Cinema Displays with such a large price discrepancy to its existing offerings.

One possibility could have Apple include proprietary technology alongside LED Cinema Displays that would make them more cost effective through guarantees of prolonged lifespans.

For instance, a recent patent filing covered by AppleInsider revealed the company to be working removable LED light strips that easily slide in and out of the base of a flat-panel display in very much the same way a memory card slides in and out of a digital camera.

Patent Example


Those "side firing LEDs" would be mounted on — and electrically connected to one another via — a flexible strip with a power feed contact that adheres to the display housing once inserted. This concept, Apple explained, would prevent users from having to replace an entire display should an LED eventually fail or burn out.

The last changes to Apple's Cinema Display line came on June 28th, 2004 when the company introduced the 30-inch HD model alongside Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. The display was then priced at $3299.