Price & Feature Comparison For Dell, Gateway, IBM, & Apple 17" LCDs [UPDATED]

We were curious about how Appleis new 17" LCD Flat Panel display compared to the competitionsi, so we checked out 5 of Appleis closest competitors from the PC world; Dell, Sony, Gateway, HP, and IBM. We compared features and price, and also threw in a completely subjective category of style and aesthetics. Neither Sony nor HP had 17" LCD offerings, though both companies offers 18" LCD products. In addition, Gateway, the leader in the price category, offered three different 17" LCDs that we could find (their Web site is not user-friendly), and they ranged in price from US$879 to US$1269. We picked a unit priced at US$954 to include, but it is the US$1269 model that most likely comes the closest to Appleis 17" Studio Display in terms of quality. Our conclusions follow the spec chart.

Sceptre Tech
17"Flat Panel
LCD Monitor
17" 770TFT
LCD monitor
IBM Branded
T750 Flat
Panel Monitor
Apple branded
Max. Resolution1280 x 10241280 x 10241280 x 10241280 x 1024
Refresh Rate*??75 Hz76 HzN/A
Dotpitch.264 mm??.26mm??
Built-in SpeakersYesNoNoNo
Wall MountableYesYesYesNo
Min. Depth7.03"9.4"9.8"6.9"
USB HubNoNoNoYes
Apple Display

All of the displays support 1280 x 1024 resolutions, no matter the price. Only Gateway and IBM listed refresh rates, and IBM got the nod for barely edging out Gateway in that category. That said, refresh rates are only pertinent to analog LCD displays. As an Apple spokesperson told us, "The pixels are either on or off, they are not refreshed by the CRT gun repainting the screen." The Studio Display is digital-only, and does not support analog modes, and for this reason the refresh rate is actually not an issue. We include the information in the above table for those who need to consider that aspect of buying a display.

The Studio Display is not wall mountable, whereas all three of the other models are. Apple also has the only built-in USB hub that we could find, and with the USB ports on the back, the unit could not be practically hung on a wall. The USB hub also relies, in part, on Appleis non-standard Apple Display Connector that is used instead of the industry standard DVI connector. We still think moving away from a standard connector was a step backward for Apple, but there are adapters available to ease compatibility. A digital connection is far superior for LCDs, but the trade off of having no compatibility with industry standard connectors is still an issue for some Mac users. The company could have achieved digital compatibility for their displays with a DVI connection and not gone the proprietary route. Thanks to the many Observers who helped out with this information.

Only the Dell has built-in speakers, so they get the nod there, but who wants speakers that are built-in? Apple wins the foot print contest hands down. Every other flat panel display we have seen relies on a stand, similar to Appleis previous flat panel displays. Appleis model simply has a built in stand calculated to lean at the correct angle. Perfect for saving space.

Style and Aesthetics? Pshaw, the Apple model wins this one hands down, but we would like to point out that this is utterly subjective. If you like the way the other models look, you probably arenit reading this in the first place.

When you combine all of the factors together, the Apple model is easily the best deal. You can save a few bucks by buying the Gateway model, but you wonit get the same quality. Itis interesting that Apple comes in on the low end of the scale price wise, especially when you are considering the quality of the product.

One note: SGI has a beautiful flat panel called the SGI 1600SW. This is a 17.3" wide screen display that offers a maximum resolution of 1600 x 1024, the same resolution as Appleis top end 22" Cinema Display. It also has offers 110 dpi and a dot pitch of .23mm, both better than the 4 units we compare above. The 1600 SW is priced at US$1499, though we found a wide variety of prices in the market, and this coupled with its larger size and other features really makes it more of a competitor with the Cinema Display and other 18"-21" models on the market. We definitely recommend you check it out if the price doesnit intimidate you.