Mac users gainsay new Apple displays

Attendees of last week's Macworld Expo/New York say Apple's new 15-inch flat-panel Apple Studio Display and 17-inch|CRT-based Apple Studio Display do little to address huge price and size gaps in the product line.
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor

Attendees of last week's Macworld Expo/New York said Apple's new models do little to span gaps in its monitor line.

NEW YORK 24 July 2000 - While Apple Computer Inc. extended its display horizons at last week's Macworld Expo here, some attendees colored themselves less-than-impressed with the Mac maker's current monitor lineup. Visitors told MacCentral that Apple's new 15-inch flat-panel Apple Studio Display and 17-inch, CRT-based Apple Studio Display do little to address huge price and size gaps in the product line.

Specifically, many users said Apple should have come out with a 17- or 18-inch flat panel display or a new, improved 21-inch CRT display. Apple currently has no monitor solution between its 17-inch CRT monitor and its top-of-the-line 22-inch Cinema Display. (Apple has discontinued the 21-inch CRT display.)

"This monitor lineup makes absolutely no sense," said Eric Westerhold of Dallas, Texas. "I go from a $499, 17-inch CRT monitor to a $4,000 flat panel. Tell me that makes sense."

A number of attendees said Apple's strategy leads them to assume Apple doesn't think there is a market for monitors in the middle between a 17-inch and 22-inch and as a result, are willing to give up the market and sales to other third-party monitors.

"If Apple wants what I would think is a large customer base who needs bigger monitors in both flat panel and CRT to go to the competition, let me assure you that they will," said Edgar Winterhall, an independent Mac consultant based in Columbus, Ohio.

Others said they think Apple will come out with other monitors to fill the void in the next few months and might have delayed their announcement because of availability problems.

No backward compatibility
Besides the lack of monitors in certain sizes and price ranges, attendees expressed confusion over a new adapter built onto all the new Apple monitors that locks out users of older Macs and Windows PCs and a connector on new Mac models that lock out owners of some older flat-panel displays.

Current Apple displays all use an Apple Display Connector that packs video, power and USB into one cord and will only work with the new Power Mac G4 towers and Cube models. Third-party monitors from manufacturers such as Sony, Mitsubishi and ViewSonic will work with old and new Mac models, since they both use the standard Video Graphics Array (VGA) protocol.

"What were they thinking?" Westerhold said. "Did they not think about how they would make older monitors work? I don't think Apple thinks these things through very well."

You only have to go back about nine months to find a monitor that was introduced and will now not work with the new Power Mac G4 Cube. The first-generation Cinema Display, which came with a different adapter, is not compatible and has left some Cinema Display owners hot under the collar.

"You would think the Cinema Display is five years old or something," said Phyllis Cohen, a graphics designer from Atlanta, as she stood in front of the 22-inch Cinema Display in Apple's Expo booth.

"I've totally shut the Cube out of my mind as a purchase option because my two Cinema Displays won't work. I really feel like Apple has screwed me and a lot of other people."

By switching to ADC-equipped monitors, Apple has created headaches for those waiting to get a new Apple display for their older Macs. In addition, the new monitors lock Apple out of a potentially huge market in selling their monitors with Windows-based PC owners who up to now had the option of using Apple-branded monitors on their PCs.

An Apple source, who asked not to be identified, said the company is working with a number of third-party cable manufacturers to produce cables or adapters that would make the original Apple 15-inch graphite flat-panel display and the original 22-inch Apple Cinema Display work with the new line of Macintosh models and it is hoped they could be available in the next three months. Third-party makers may also manufacture an adapter that will convert VGA-based monitors to ADC.

Any new adapter would have to include a octopus-like interface cable that would include a video connector, a power connector and a USB connector for calibration and a possible USB hub, if the monitor is equipped with additional USB ports.

Apple officials were not immediately available for comment.

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