My MacBook Air's New Best Friend: Apple 24-Inch LED Cinema Display

macbookairleddisplay1MacBook Air, the skinniest of all the Apple machines, has been my computer of choice since the day I bought it. Rarely have I regretted owning the featherweight laptop, but when those regrets do crop up, they’re typically around the lack of storage space — for at times, the 128 GB SSD isn’t enough. My other big complaint: The 13-inch screen isn’t big enough for optimal productivity. Well, Apple has silenced me by releasing a new 24-inch LED display monitor.

The $899 device takes its design and performance cues from the newly redesigned line-up of unibody MacBooks. Apple says that the 24-inch glossy, widescreen, LED-backlit display is the first to be designed to work exclusively with Apple laptops, part of the company’s move to whittle down its desktop line and increase the emphasis on its portable products. From that perspective, the new display makes perfect sense.

When I first got this monitor to review, I didn’t much care about it. After all, monitor is a monitor, right? But once I hooked it up with my MacBook Air, my opinion changed. In less a minute it turned a skinny MacBook Air into a devil of a machine. (Check out this review from sister site jkOnTheRun, which uses the display with a MacBook.)

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The monitor comes with a Magsafe power adapter, USB cable and Mini DisplayPort, a standard feature on all unibody MacBooks. With three extra USB ports, it helps overcome another one of MacBook Air’s shortcomings. I use one for charging my BlackBerry Curve, one for keyboard and the final one for a backup drive. And much to the chagrin of my colleagues (who by now are sick of me blasting Roxy Music), the display’s built-in speaker system overcomes the tinny sound that comes from MacBook Air’s single speaker. I turned on the sound to the max and the speakers didn’t disappoint. And at any given time, I keep open iTunes, at least two browser windows, Skype, Adium, Net News Wire and Textmate — so I love the bright and crisp extra real estate that the new screen brings.

There are ways to improve this monitor, such as including a built-in Ethernet port so I could plug my computer into the corporate network without having to use Wi-Fi. And perhaps get rid of the glossy screen. Similarly, it would be nice to make this monitor work with some of the older MacBooks and other laptops.

Bottom line: The new display allows the MacBook Air to be your only computer.

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