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New 20" iMac Screens Show 98% Fewer Colors

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the dithering-all-the-way-to-the-bank dept.

iMac 470

Trintech points us to an AppleInsider article about another class-action lawsuit directed against Apple Inc. This one claims that the displays on new 20" iMacs are only capable of 6-bit-per-pixel color, 98% fewer colors than Apple advertises. Rather than the 8-bit, in-plane switching (IPS) screens used in 24" iMacs and earlier 20" models, "[t]he new 20-inch iMac features a 6-bit twisted nematic film (TN) LCD screen," according to the article, "which the [law] firm claims is the 'least expensive of its type,' sporting a narrower viewing angle than the display of the 24-inch model, less color depth, less color accuracy, and greater susceptibility to washout." Apple recently settled a very similar class-action suit about the displays on MacBook and MacBook Pro models.

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No April Fools articles this year. (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932774)

Good job slashdot, I think you successfully managed to show that reality is stranger than fiction by holding back on the fake articles this year. And you've thoroughly confused everyone.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (5, Funny)

shaitand (626655) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932814)

OMG PONIES!!

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (5, Funny)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932994)

You called?

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1)

wigginz (730819) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933026)

Definitely my favorite slashdot april fools... that was two years ago right??

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933150)

Perhaps the April Fool's joke is no April Fool's articles.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933216)

We'll get the april fools articles tomorrow. Perhaps there really are no /. editors, and the articles are posted automatically by slashcode... and CmdrTaco failed to update it for leap year this year.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932872)

This one claims that the displays on new 20" iMacs are only capable of 6-bit-per-pixel color, 98% fewer colors than Apple advertises.

6 bits per pixel means 64 colors, so this is either an April fool, or the article/summary author can't do math or can't read.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (5, Informative)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932920)

It's 6 bit per color in a rgb scheme, making it 18 bit or 262,144 total.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933000)

The word choice seems wrong until you consider the "pixel" to be one of the RGB subpixels on the screen.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933068)

Isn't the proper term "sub-pixel"? (wherein 3 R, G, or B subpixels make a whole pixel)?

(just curious)

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (4, Interesting)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933038)

Thanks for the clarification. I was sitting here and thinking to myself, "That can't bee right. 6-bits of color is how much my RGB Amiga 500 used in 1987 (64 colors)."

So it's 6 bits per color (red, green, or blue) to achieve 18 bits total (thousands of colors). Versus a "real" monitor that can do 24 bits total, aka millions of colors.

Yeah. Definitely false advertising.
Lousy Apple.
Starting to act like Microscrew.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (5, Informative)

pipatron (966506) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933142)

Technically, you could only define 32 colours of those 64 (from a total palette of 4096!), the other 32 were actually the same colour but at half the brightness, hence the name of the display mode: EHB - Extra Half-Brite. This was very useful since you could use that extra bit-plane as a shadow-plane, and most palettes had dark and bright versions of the colours anyway.

Of course, this doesn't make it any less superior, just saying...

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1, Interesting)

kesuki (321456) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933330)

"So it's 6 bits per color (red, green, or blue) to achieve 18 bits total (thousands of colors). Versus a "real" monitor that can do 24 bits total, aka millions of colors. Yeah. Definitely false advertising."

Not really, the apple displays support 'dithering' which allows the creation of millions of colors on a 18-bit display by varying the color shades of nearby pixels, to the human eye, you still see millions of colors, even though the display only has a couple hundred thousand color states.

The problem is that for professionals dithering distorts photo chroma, so it's impossible to use an 18-bit display for professional photography uses, and even when you use it at 'home' for editing normal photos you wind up making them look worse for people who have true, 24-bit displays.

Apple should say upfront if a TFT is using dithering or not, but it's never stopped the likes of dell, or gateway or any other oem from selling 'dithering' displays as 'millions of colors TFT displays.' The reason why apple got caught with their pants down in their lawsuit is because for decades professional graphic artists and photographers have used and relied on apple.

See professional photographers don't buy dells, they buy macs, and when they realized their mac books weren't true 24-bit color they sued, and apple settled.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (0)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933374)

Here's what I don't understand: I have a 24-inch iMac at home. I remember how movies (and games!) looked like when you had less than 24-bit color-depth: lotsa gradients, dithering, all kinds of ugliness. And I see none of that on my current iMac. Is this only a case with the more recent iMacs? Or is this a joke story people missed?

Nevermind. (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933426)

It looks like this is specifically for the new 20-inch iMac model. My bad for not RTFAing.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (0, Troll)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933078)

Or the same as my phone's shitty screen.

Looking forward to watching those of distorted reality among us try to spin this one...

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22933272)

Here, I'll spin it for you - you're a smug asshole and you probably have no real friends, just a group of unwashed geeks you talk to online whilst you clutch your shriveled penis masturbating to furry porn.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1)

Dolda2000 (759023) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933358)

It's 6 bit per color in a rgb scheme, making it 18 bit or 262,144 total.
And while it is true that that is indeed 98% fewer discrete colors than the normal 16,777,216 discrete colors that can be displayed in a 24-bit colorspace, I still think that it is very misleading to say that. There is nothing in that which says that the actual color space has shrinked (meaning that the screen should still be able to display the same exact same range of colors), only that fewer colors from it can be picked.

Of course, that doesn't mean that it wouldn't matter, and I do think that people should be complaining, indeed, but saying that it shows 98% fewer colors makes the problem sound a lot more severe than it might actually be.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (4, Informative)

kextyn (961845) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932932)

I admit I have no idea how to figure out how many colors there are with 6 bits per pixel...but I did find this website which talks about 8bit and 6bit LCDs: http://compreviews.about.com/od/multimedia/a/LCDColor.htm [about.com]

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22932996)

I admit I have no idea how to figure out how many colors there are with 6 bits per pixel...

2 states for each bit (on or off); 6 bits per pixel; 3 subpixels per pixel (red, green, blue)

(2^6)(2^6)(2^6) = 262,144

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1)

psydeshow (154300) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932958)

I think they mean 6 bits per color channel per pixel. That's just weird.

Almost like going back to web-safe colors again.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (5, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933306)

It may be weird, but it's also remarkably common. About half the LCDs on Newegg are reported as showing 16m or 16.2m colors, rather than 16.7m (2^24). A far cry from the 280k-odd colors of a 6-bit-per-channel display, but the number they're reporting is based off of the results of a 6-bit panel using dithering. Many cheaper screens from all manufacturers follow this trend, especially those advertised towards gamers. They sacrifice color reproduction in order to get the pixels to twist faster - all of the reported 2ms panels are 6-bit dithered displays, which gives awful color reproduction (not critical for games most of the time, but a big problem for photo/video work). Of course, anything faster than 16ms is absolutely pointless since you're dealing with a 60Hz signal, but that's aside the point. More notably, the 6-bit panels are quite a bit cheaper, as one would expect.

I'm almost positive that my Macbook Pro does this as well; honestly, quite unacceptable for a "pro" machine. It's especially noticeable at the brighter edge of a gradient (ex. the Photoshop color palette).

Most people aren't going to really notice. Dithering is reasonably effective, and it still manages to give the illusion of most of the spectrum (certainly far more than 6-bit/64 levels per channel, rather than 8-bit/256). But at the end of the day it's still an illusion, and the difference IS there.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (4, Informative)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933002)

No, the article just wasn't clear. It actually means 6-bits per color channel per pixel. In other words, 18-bits per pixel instead of full 24-bits per pixel. And the reduction from 2^24 to 2^18 does indeed reduce the number of colors from about 16 million to 262,144 - a reduction of about 98% of the entire color space.

And as someone who owns a 18-bits per pixel monitor, trust me, you can tell when working with static imagery. Maybe not when playing games or playing movies, but you can tell. The little gradients on Slashdot look terrible on that monitor. It helps that it doesn't do any form of dithering, but even on my cheap Acer laptop that also only does 18bpp, you can clearly see the dithering.

Since Apples are frequently used for photo work and print work, using only 6 bits per color channel is simply unacceptable. Coders probably won't care, but graphic artists most certainly will.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (2, Interesting)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933100)

I have a 6-bit LG monitor that I picked up on clearance a few years ago and I have to say that it does an excellent job of dithering. The viewing angles aren't that great, but as far as color goes, it's really not too bad. It's hard to tell even with some of the gradient tests that are out there. OTOH, I've put those same tests up on some of the LCD monitors at work and they look horrible. Point being that there are some 6-bit panels out there that manage to display colors pretty well.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22933154)

Are you ever NOT wrong? Seriously, last time you were posting random crap about iTunes, this time you're posting random crap about iMacs. Do you even work with computers?

Here's a hint, nimrod: iMacs are HOME COMPUTERS. They're the computers that you give little Timmy to play with in his room, the computer that a family uses for simple things.

No professional would EVER use an iMac for anything important.

A professional, or a "pro" for short, would use the ever-so-confusingly named Mac Pro [apple.com] with a Cinema Display [apple.com] .

I know that they confused you by abbreviating "professional" to "pro" but I'm sure most people with two brain cells can figure it out.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1)

fracai (796392) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933014)

6 bits per channel, so 18 total bits (6*3) vs 24 total bits (8*3)

I was confused at first as well until I worked out the common factor in the discrepancy.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933018)

It should be 6 bits per sub-pixel although pixel is probably an accurate way of saying it as well. If you know the context it does make somewhat more sense than saying each pixel can only show 18 bits instead of 24. LCDs have three pixels/sub-pixels next to each other for red, blue and green. 6 bits for each one means that each trio can produce 2^18 colors. At 8 bits they can produce 2^24 colors.

(2^18)/(2^24) = 0.016 2%

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (3, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933294)

(2^18)/(2^24) = 0.016 2%
Umm... No. (2^18)/(2^24) = 1.5625%. You were somehow off by a factor of about 96.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1)

goofy183 (451746) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933096)

6 bits per color, I'm assuming (I didn't RTFA) that there are 3 colors per pixel so you have 18 bit color instead of 24 bit color.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22932924)

Good job slashdot, I think you successfully managed to show that reality is stranger than fiction by holding back on the fake articles this year. And you've thoroughly confused everyone.

Personally, I liked it better back when /. april fools jokes were about the site itself (omg ponies!) rather than just aggregating all the other sites' jokes for us to groan at.

Maybe next year, they'll unveil "wiki.slashdot.org" due to overwhelming demand by careless users who want to be able to edit their posts and fix their spelling (and everyone else's posts too!)

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (3, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933060)

Maybe next year, they'll unveil "wiki.slashdot.org" due to overwhelming demand by careless users who want to be able to edit their posts and fix their spelling (and everyone else's posts too!)
Maybe next year, they'll unveil "wiki.slashdot.org" due to overwhelming demand by careless users who want to be able to edit their posts and fix their spelling (and everyone else's posts too!).

There, fixed that for you.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22933054)

I hope they do something cute one year like Score: IV, Much Gaiety.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (2, Insightful)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933210)

Yeah, I really like it too. Feels a bit surreal, tho. I'm going "oh, this is the joke. *reads* - no.. that doesn't look like a joke.." on every new story that appears, half expecting pink ponies to jump out of my screen every time.

It's kinda like Bill Gates standing saying that he, deep in his heart, really like linux, and use Ubuntu and Fedora at his computers at home. Heey, actually, that would have been a great April Fools if the big G did that. I think the discussion would be VERY interesting (as only about 1/4 would realize / acknowledge that it's a joke). Mad OSS priests frothing at the mouth, Microsofties claiming Armageddon, and snotty mac users proclaiming Steve is The Only True iGod.

Re:No April Fools articles this year. (1)

CowboyNealOption (1262194) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933270)

If they included three pairs of cheap sunglasses with red, green, and blue tints in the box with each monitor, wouldn't that technically solve the problem?

Uh oh (3, Funny)

sltd (1182933) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932804)

Mac Fanboys converging in 3... 2... 1...

Re:Uh oh (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932818)

only after the through on their black wrinkled Tee Shirts, and un-comb(de comb?) their hair.

Re:Uh oh (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933136)

Can I mod the ironic moderation as "funny"?

If anything... (5, Funny)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932816)

...the new OSX interface has shown us that we don't need so many colours. Colours in a computer eat up the memory bits and distract us from our reverence. Personally, I'm going to take Steve's advice and go get my eyes chromed.

Re:If anything... (4, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933170)

You're absolutely right. I hate colours myself. I much prefer the American colors, thay're much brighter and prettier than the British colours. Damn that Jobs and his British colours! And he calls himself an American!

Hmmm (2, Funny)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932824)

Bad advertising? Who cares that an underpowered overpriced computer is not living up to the expectations. Who cares? Itä's Abble. Look, man, SHINY!!!!

If only... (3, Insightful)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932834)

the Windows Guy could retaliate in one of those commercials.

But cutting costs is part of innovation, so Apple is still the best, OBVIOUSLY.

Re:If only... (5, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933020)

the Windows Guy could retaliate in one of those commercials.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Windows PCs (including pretty much every laptop ever made) also use these "inferior" screens, and nobody's tried to sue Dell yet.

The fact is that most people can't tell the difference, and aren't interested in paying four times as much to get a product that isn't noticably better unless you make your living working with colour.

This is a storm in a teacup.

Re:If only... (3, Insightful)

kesuki (321456) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933158)

Dell lets you pay extra to configure your laptop with a real screen. you pay through the nose, but still they let the person decide at checkout.

Re:If only... (3, Informative)

dal20402 (895630) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933350)

There is no better laptop screen, because no one makes one. You can increase the resolution by paying extra, but you're still getting the same cheap TN crap that everyone uses and that Apple is getting sued for advertising as capable of displaying "millions of colors."

Crap TN panels are slowly but surely taking over the desktop space too. It's hard to find a non-TN panel under 23" these days, and even many 24" and all 27" panels use the sucky technology.

Unfortunately, Americans still largely drive tech trends, and we rarely care about anything but "big and cheap." (We say we do, but then we actually still buy "big and cheap.")

Re:If only... (3, Informative)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933408)

This isn't about the MacBook suit, this is about 20" iMac desktops.

Incidentally a guy (Mac user) on our forums ran some tests on his Thinkpad and found that it does indeed have an IPS display. So although TN screens may be common on laptops they're not ubiquitous.

Re:If only... (1, Flamebait)

thegnu (557446) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933204)

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Windows PCs (including pretty much every laptop ever made) also use these "inferior" screens, and nobody's tried to sue Dell yet.
The majority of Windows PCs are non-specific about the superiority or inferiority of their screens. Dell doesn't lie about it. No fraud, no suit.

The fact is that most people can't tell the difference, and aren't interested in paying four times as much to get a product that isn't noticably better unless you make your living working with colour.
Try telling that to a bespectacled emo-haired skinny starbucks drinking douchebag that knows shit about computers, but somehow thinks he can explain the superiority of Apple's hardware to me?

This is a storm in a teacup.
OOOhhh! That's a great slogan for Apple:
iFraud: Just a storm in a teacup

Re:If only... (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933206)

Which windows pc or laptop, exactly, advertises "millions of colors" but provides only 6-bit panels?

Re:If only... (1)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933260)

This is a storm in a teacup.
CRASH! BOOM! SPLASH! Ow! Hot tea in my lap! Lawsuit!

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22933290)

Sure you can tell. When you display what should be a smooth color gradient and it looks all striped like a striated zebra on acid, then you know you aren't getting millions of colors.

Most times it doesn't matter of course, but you CAN tell if needed.

Re:If only... (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933320)

Well, the issue really is that apple advertises their monitors are being, "superior", but I just checked and all the laptops I've encountered who's model numbers I still recall off the top of my head support 24bpp just fine. Perhaps this would have been a teacup storm a few years ago, but a few years is eternity in this industry.

Re:If only... (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933354)

The fact is that most people can't tell the difference, and aren't interested in paying four times as much to get a product that isn't noticably better unless you make your living working with colour.

Good thing Apple doesn't advertise it's products as professional level video/photo/layout editing, with that functionality bundled with the OS. And good thing most professional artists don't use Apple products. And good thing that widely known fact doesn't weigh at all on amateur's brand-purchasing decision.

Re:If only... (-1, Redundant)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933028)

Problem is that a whole lot of PCs are using the same 6-bit screens, too.

How can you judge colour quality? (3, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932844)

I don't have a Mac, but I do sometimes buy computer monitors. I can understand specifications like the physical size, resolution, viewing angle and (just about) contrast ratio. But do manufacturers publish specs on what colour depth is supported? Is there some quantitative measure of how well a display shows different colours and how wide the gamut is? How can I avoid getting caught out like these hapless iMac buyers?

Re:How can you judge colour quality? (4, Informative)

randyest (589159) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932918)

But do manufacturers publish specs on what colour depth is supported? Is there some quantitative measure of how well a display shows different colours and how wide the gamut is? How can I avoid getting caught out like these hapless iMac buyers?
Yes, of course. The LCD manufacturers will spec 6-, 8-. or 10-bit color for their panels. Then Apple will buy the 6-bit and claim it's an 8-bit. Then you sue Apple and get your money back and lunch with Steve, or something like that.

But seriously, yes, LCD (and any decent LCD mfgr) will spec the color bit depth of a panel. A really good mfgr (NEC, LG, Samsung) will have gamut charts available to OEMs and possibly end users. But if Apple chooses not to share, or worse just lies about it, there's not much you can do other than try to do some independent research to figure out what panels Apple uses, then contact the panel mfgr to (try to) get some specs.

Re:How can you judge colour quality? (3, Informative)

Mogenpwr (1265890) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933226)

Most people dont realize (hell, nobody does) that 6 bit panels (as opposed to 8 bit panels) do not lose the 2 MSB; they lose the 2 LSB. As a result,instead of the LSB being a digial 1, it's valued at a digital 4. They are fully capable of displaying the full 24 bit color palette, but they have problems when the image is very dark. To illustrate the point, when the image is Full White (R,G,B=255,255,255) with an 8 bit panel you may see the signal swing from 254-255. On a 6bit panel the signal will swing from 251-255 since the LSB is now 4. You will only notice this on certain shades of grey, and you will need to be looking for this effect since the issue is very subtle to begin with, and then its very hard to notice unless somebody knows EXACTLY what you are seeing. Apple just went from a PVA panel (better viewing angle (180), better contrast (1000:1), crappy response (8ms) ) to a TN panel (average viewing angle (165), average contrast (700:1), but awesome response (2-3ms)). Nothing to see, move on.

Re:How can you judge colour quality? (1)

MyNymWasTaken (879908) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933302)

It's still fraud, even when the defense is "pish posh, you can't tell the difference unless you look for it."

Goddamn trolls (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933402)

Also who was the moderator who doesn't realise the LSBs of a word change at higher magnitudes too? These are not unary coded words ... idiots.

Re:How can you judge colour quality? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932966)

My guess is to do the research to find out who makes the panels for the model you might want and go from there.

I got a cheap 19" LCD which clearly has a smaller color space based on watching video simultaneously on the LCD and on a HT projector. The LCD clearly has marked color transitions where the (also LCD) projector does not. At least, I presume that's the issue. I don't really care, as the screen is mainly for setup of the HT computer, not watching, but I can see how somebody might be pretty disappointed if it was a primary monitor.

Re:How can you judge colour quality? (5, Informative)

xlsior (524145) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932970)

Pretty much any monitor advertised as 16.2 million colors is using a 6 bit panel with hardware dithering. Those advertised as 16.7 million colors tend to be 8 bit.

Re:MOD PARENT UP (5, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933180)

Mod parent up. This is absolutely true. I'd estimate that the vast majority of LCD panels on the market are 6-bit screens. Whether you are buying Benq, LG, Dell, Viewsonic, it doesn't matter. Most of them are 6 bit.

They are cheaper, and they have faster response times.

8-bit LCD panels are almost a niche specialty 'pro product' in today's market, and unless you went out of your way to buy an 8 bit screen odds are you took home a 6-bit TN panel, advertised as showing "16.2 million colours" without even knowing it.

Its not just Apple. Although they seem to have gone beyond marketing deceptiveness to outright lies and deserve to be taken to task about it.

But don't for a minute think all those free Dell monitors bundled with low end PCs are anything better. Hell, even the ones you can pay to upgrade to aren't often anything better than 6-bit.

Re:How can you judge colour quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22932986)

I don't have a Mac, but I do sometimes buy computer monitors.
Unless you deliberately choose expensive monitors, you almost certainly buy TN displays like the ones these "hapless" iMac buyers have got. Most people do; they're much, much cheaper.

But do manufacturers publish specs on what colour depth is supported?
Generally not, but if you read reviews aimed at graphics professionals then those will almost always go into great detail on the subject.

How can I avoid getting caught out like these hapless iMac buyers?
They haven't been "caught out". The displays they've got are more responsive and have better contrast ratios than the IPS displays in previous models. For home-user activities like watching movies, playing games, and browsing the web, they are arguably better than IPS displays. It's only graphics professionals who are even likely to notice any difference... and they don't buy 20" iMacs.

Re:How can you judge colour quality? (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933044)

I'm going to have to assume that this post is an April Fool's joke, since it so perfectly is in exact opposition to reality. Nice work!

Re:How can you judge colour quality? (2, Insightful)

Phroggy (441) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933228)

I just checked. The tech specs page for Apple Cinema Displays says "Display colors (maximum): 16.7 million". The tech specs pages for the MacBook [apple.com] , MacBook Pro [apple.com] , MacBook Air [apple.com] and indeed the iMac [apple.com] all mention "millions of colors" (which is what Apple has traditionally called 24-bit color, as opposed to "thousands of colors" which is 16-bit mode and "256 colors" which is obviously 8-bit mode).

Class Action? (3, Interesting)

randyest (589159) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932856)

Strange, the first case that was "settled out of court under undisclosed terms" seems to have been just two guys. Surely there are more than two photographers who bought macs thinking they would get 8-bit color and later realized it was only 6-bit. I wonder why no class-action was initiated? Since it wasn't though, it seems like Apple is still open to potentially thousands or more lawsuits for this false advertising.

That's what it is, right? They say "millions of colors" when it's really 262k colors. Or is there some precedent that lets a company claim dithering = unique color?

Re:Class Action? (1)

octover (22078) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932950)

What I read was that the capabilities of the screen had to be a major purchase point in order to qualify, and most people would have a hard time arguing that. I'm happy enough with my display, but I am pissed that I was lied to about its capabilities.

Re:Class Action? (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933262)

Hard to argue? I'd think anyone with eyes could easily and successfully argue that they purchased it for the "high-quality" display.

Re:Class Action? (0, Flamebait)

vought (160908) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932972)

That's what it is, right? They say "millions of colors" when it's really 262k colors. Or is there some precedent that lets a company claim dithering = unique color?
The CLUT supports 24bpp color, so they advertise millions of colors. If the display dithers down to 262k, it could be argued that the display is still being sent 24bpp info - and thee iMac does have an external video out port, so I think Apple has some wiggle room here...

Personally, I think they should just send all the complainants a 21-inch Ikegami CRT monitor and adapter cable from 1992 to attach to their iMac, thus rendering the iMac useless, ugly, and perfectly capable of displaying 24bpp color.

Re:Class Action? (4, Informative)

ink (4325) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933114)

The CLUT supports 24bpp color, so they advertise millions of colors. If the display dithers down to 262k, it could be argued that the display is still being sent 24bpp info - and thee iMac does have an external video out port, so I think Apple has some wiggle room here...
From this link http://www.apple.com/imac/specs.html [apple.com]

Display

* Built-in 20-inch (viewable) or 24-inch (viewable) glossy widescreen TFT active-matrix liquid crystal display
* Resolution
o 20-inch: 1680 by 1050 pixels
o 24-inch: 1920 by 1200 pixels
* Millions of colors at all resolutions
* Typical viewing angle
o 20-inch models
+ 160° horizontal 20- and 24-inch
+ 160° vertical
o 24-inch model
+ 178° horizontal
+ 178° vertical
* Typical brightness: 290 cd/m2 (20-inch models); 385 cd/m2 (24-inch model)
* Typical contrast ratio: 800:1 (20-inch models); 750:1 (24-inch model)
(apologies for slashdot's mangling of the unicode above)

They make the claim that the "display" supports "millions of colors". And by display, they mean something that has 290 cd/m2 brightness and a 160 degree viewing angle -- which could hardly be referring to the GPU/video card.

No, because quality was obvious (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932976)

If you are really into photography, you wouldn't buy the non IPS monitors regardless. These guys are idiots for buying a product clearly labeled as having a cheap screen and then being surprised when the screen was, well, cheap!

It's not like dithering is not used in plenty of other applications to produce more colors than the device can physically output - I assume they are going after printer makers next?

Re:No, because quality was obvious (4, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933056)

In this instance (not the previous one), the issue is did Apple advertise them as supporting 8 bit per plane or did they not? If they tried selling them as 8 bit and they were really 6, then there is a problem. It's called false advertising.

cheap vs. mislabeled (3, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933104)

If it was advertised as an 18-bit screen we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

18 bits is plenty for many people, but it's not plenty for graphic artists - the very people who buy Macs.

Re:Class Action? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933074)

It's a standard TN screen, as supplied with pretty much any computer under $1000. Indeed gamers prefer this type of display because they don't blur so much as slower response, but better image quality, alternatives.

TN screens are 6-bits per component, alongside a load of other things like poor viewing angles, etc.

They use temporal dithering to achieve 16.2m colours, because they can flick between close together colours very quickly, faster than the human eye can detect. There is another illusion used as well, spatial dithering of RGB subpixels to simulate a full spectrum of colour from 63 reds, greens and blues, and black (yes, TN screens can only display 190 different shades of colour if you discount all the illusions used to fool the eye into seeing all the colours of the rainbow).

The lowest-end iMac before the 20" became the low-end also used a TN screen. So in terms of iMac low-end displays, nothing has changed. However in terms of 20" iMacs, they did move from a decent quality S-IPS display to the worse TN display.

However it is clear that the TN screen used in all or some iMac 20"ers is possibly a rather poor display, even for being a TN screen. Presumably even after spending time calibrating the display. Maybe the backlight is rubbish and gives a poor colour gamut. Maybe for some reason the display doesn't do temporal dithering at all but tries some other type of spatial dithering over a set of pixels.

There is no way a professional graphics artist should be using basic consumer displays for their work. I don't even think Apple would have said that these machines were for that - maybe the 24" iMac, maybe the Mac Pro, but not the lowest of the low iMac.

The other lesson is that All-In-One computers can often have a single component make them entirely undesirable as a whole.

Can't say I'm surprised. (5, Interesting)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932878)

I work at an Apple shop, I love Apple products, but I'd be happy to tell you how shitty the 20" Aluminum iMac screens are. They really, really suck, and here's hoping Apple finally gets their head out of their ass and puts a quality screen on what should be a quality product.

Re:Can't say I'm surprised. (3, Insightful)

boristdog (133725) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932980)

I am not a big Apple fan, but in the past I always knew they at least put out a quality product. I never had problems recommending Apple products to my clients if their needs fit the product.

But in the past few years Apple quality has been slipping. They need to nip this in the bud or they'll be known as just an OS company with crappy hardware.

And for a company that pushes such a visual image - DON'T go cheap on the displays!

Re:Can't say I'm surprised. (1)

petehead (1041740) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933016)

TN screens suck in general. I got a 24" Samsung one which was supposed to be one of the better ones, but I took it back. The fact that the bottom of my screen always seemed dark and the top always seemed light bothered me to no end. I couldn't afford a nice S-IPS 24" so I got a S-PVA panel and am much happier. Pretty lame of Apple to swap in the TN to do this because they used to have some nice panels.

Re:Can't say I'm surprised. (1)

Luke the Obscure (651951) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933386)

Seriously. I recently got hired as a designer at a marketing firm. They asked me what computer I wanted, so I opted for a 20" iMac (they had just came out- and I was drawn too their innate sexiness) and it SUCKS. The viewing angle is so narrow that colors at the top of the screen look completely different than colors at the bottom. They are NOT suitable AT ALL for graphic design- which is bizarre because nearly ALL graphic designers use macs!

I know what they're doing (4, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932884)

Apple is just trying to bring back the glory days of black and white screens.

That's OK (5, Funny)

Lxy (80823) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932906)

640 colors ought to be enough for anyone.

Re:That's OK (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933246)

256 colors used to be such a pain to make a pallete with.

Macs are for graphics... untrue? (2, Insightful)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932954)

Hasn't apple prided itself in that mac's are for "fun and artistic purposes" rather than business purposes? It seems to me that apple is shooting itself in the foot here, and then pouring lemon juice on the wound just for good measure.

Quick Ban-Him (4, Funny)

Russell2566 (1205416) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932968)

Quick, ban this guy for posting something that might be construed as anti-apple... We all know they can't do wrong. Someone change Apple -> Microsoft and all will be well...

6-bit colors make gradients look awful. (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932978)

6-bit colors? In 2008? What were they thinking? The trend is towards 10 bits. At 6 bits, gradients look awful; false edges appear. Go into Photoshop, generate a single color gradient, and then "posterize" to 64 colors to see what this looks like. Yuck.

Dithering won't help; it puts noise into a nice, smooth gradient.

Re:6-bit colors make gradients look awful. (2, Informative)

randyest (589159) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933126)

Do you think 10-bit color provides only 2^10 or 1024 colors? I assume (hope) not, so why would 6-bit color be only 64 colors? The 10/8/6 bits are per channel (Red, Blue, Green) so 6-bit color is 2^18, or ~262k. 8 bit is 2^24 or ~2.7million, 10-bit is 2^30.

That said, you're right that 6-bit makes gradients (and many more things) look like shit. But, to be fair, not 64-color total shit.

The Amiga had 4096 colors (12-bit total, 4 bit per channel) in the 90's. 1024 total colors, now in 2008, on the best displays available? What were you thinking?

Re:6-bit colors make gradients look awful. (2, Informative)

the_banjomatic (1061614) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933278)

In all fairness, he said create a single color gradient, implying we are only concerned with one channel, so the 64 shades of red, green, or blue is correct.

Re:6-bit colors make gradients look awful. (1)

Gertlex (722812) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933366)

So on a 6bit monitor, would I see those stripes on all gradients?

Your explanation was good and clear for understanding how the number of colors is calculated; thanks.

Re:6-bit colors make gradients look awful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22933172)

Many of the cheap fast "gaming" LCD screens sold today are TN 6 bit panels.
Give me slower (S)-IPS, MVA or PVA any day.

Re:6-bit colors make gradients look awful. (2, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933238)

They were thinking "low end consumer all-in-one computer, let's use the cheap, plentiful, TN LCD displays that everyone else uses in their equivalent systems". They might have gone a little too cheap it seems, on the other hand it's been out months without any loud complaints before now.

Mid-range LCD panels can only do 8-bits per component as well. 10-bit panels - they must exist, but they're rare and presumably quite high end.

There's no desire from the manufacturers to improve quality, they seem to love selling TN displays. They're good for gamers and fast video though - very fast response times.

Re:6-bit colors make gradients look awful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22933432)

It's 6 bits per RGB channel, or 18 bits total. So quite a few more colors than 64. (But quite a few less then 8 bits per channel, or 24 total, which is what was advertised.)

For a company that markets itself primarily toward visually oriented people who care about appearance for appearance sake, skimping on the displays and then being deceptive about it could be considered a rather foolish Career Limiting Move.

All I can say is: It better not have a 9-pins (1)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 5 years ago | (#22932984)

I'm going to be madder then Hell if I take a monitor home, and look at the connector, and it has a 9-pin RS-232 Connector (Thats not a serial connector, the Serial ones are Female.)

Apple monitors give o1000000 colors (5, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933032)

Apple uses octal.

6 Bit per pixel. (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933098)

Just a reminder this is 6 Bits per pixel not the Bit depth that you set on your OS. Having 64 Colors per Pixel and combination of hardware dithering makes a decent screen for most people. However for true videophobes that would get in the way 8 bit would be prefered. But for most people they wouldn't know the difference betwen 8 bit and 6 bit displays.

Re:6 Bit per pixel. (3, Funny)

randyest (589159) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933292)

Wouldn't a videophobe prefer to have no display at all?

Re:6 Bit per pixel. (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933298)

I'm pretty sure "videophobes" would prefer a zero-bit black screen.

Great for the environment (4, Funny)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933134)

I'd call this 98% color reduction a healthy, green approach, great for the environment... except that green was one of the colors that was removed...

Re:Great for the environment (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933322)

Surely a truly green display would have 18 pixels depth on the green channel, and 0 pixels depth on the red and blue channels ???

Wish they line had a decent display-less product (1)

octover (22078) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933196)

Things like this make it more painful that Apple doesn't have a good performing display-less model. I don't need the power of the Mac Pro, but need more than a Mac mini. The iMac is about the right specs except I'd prefer something that had room for a couple of hard disks. Also more importantly I upgrade my machine more often than I want/need to upgrade my display. I could easily envision going that route getting a good display and then using it for 2~3 machines and buying a MacBook for my portable needs.

Apple doesn't manufature LCDs (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933274)

The lawsuit should be aimed at the manufacturer.

Is this really newsworthy? (2, Interesting)

dHagger (1192545) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933276)

So Apple uses a TN panel for one of their consumer products. Just like it is used in a majority of all consumer-grade flat-screens on the market. Sure, it is a bit misleading stating "it's going to look stunning on an iMac", but TN is in my opinion a logical choice of panel for a product like the iMac. That makes the rant about all the ways TN is inferior to IPS feel a bit unnecessary.

Only 766 colours anyway. (0, Flamebait)

Criffer (842645) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933280)

What the hell is the complaint about? Even a screen with an 8-bit DAC is only capable of displaying 766 colours - each subpixel can show 255 brightnesses of three distinct wavelengths of light (as each subpixel can show the same black this makes 766, not 768). And if you want to get really picky, you can only display three colours - a flourescent backlit display does not emit light like a blackbody, it has a particular spectrum which is filtered by one of three filters. No matter the brightness, each red subpixel displays the same spectrum.

So why the claims of millions of colours? Because the eye dithers. Light from all three subpixels land on cosited cones on the retina, and the optic nerve processes this weighted tristimulus response so that the brain perceives the equivalent of a particular wavelength.

So a single pixel can appear to produce 16 million colours by being made up of three different coloured subpixels. In some rendering situations, subpixels can be individually lit. This all works because the eye has very poor resolution for colours. This is also why video is invariable encoded in a YUV colour-space.

Whether an individual subpixel can display 256 levels is quite irrelevant since dithering is capable of producing a higher colour depth at the expense of colour resolution. You still get full brightness resolution. And this is ok, because its not really possible to tell the difference.

What next, suing Nikon for daring to include Bayer filters on their CCDs? Yes, it is possible to build CCDs where the R, G and B are cosited, nobody actually uses the Foveon sensor because the difference in the capture picture is not discernable.

This whole thing is stupid. It sounds like people nitpicking advertising, without actually being aware of the technical concepts involved the image display process.

Mod Parent Informative (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#22933394)

This is the only post based on facts regarding color in the entire discussion.
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