First off, I'd like to thank everybody for all the great information on this site... as someone getting back into photography and learning the digital end of it, these forums have been incredibly helpful.
That said, yes, I am starting yet another thread about monitors! Sorry, but things seem to be changing so fast in this area that I don't feel like I can trust any posts that aren't within the last six months or so when it comes to comparing different models and taking into account new ones.
I'm a professional lighting designer who uses a Mac Pro setup for my workspace, and now that I've gotten comfortable with my Nikon D80 I bought a couple months ago, I'm ready to start doing some high end prints for gallery installations and to sell... With that in mind, I am looking at 23" and 24" widescreen monitors with a resolution of 1900 x 1200 to use for photo editing and a bit of occasional video editing. I have a relatively inexpensive Samsung LCD that does a good job for daily tasks, so this is strictly for the high end editing.
My first instinct was just to pick up the 23" Cinema Display from Apple, but I have seen a lot of posts about the fact that they seem to be very inconsistent, and it sometimes takes two or three returns to get a good one. I am surprised by this, as I've always had great experiences with their computers, but I've never used their monitors.
David Brooks has spoken very highly of the Samsung 244t on this site, so I am looking at that, but some of his comments imply that color management and calibration on it will be much more difficult than on the Apple CD.
So... I'm looking at those two, and ideally I'd like to get the best quality I can for less than a thousand dollars. The Apple is a hundred dollars or so more expensive in street prices, but new (most current models) ones from reliable sellers on ebay are going for about the same price of $800 - $850. That $150 doesn't seem like much, but it's aproximately the price of purchasing the calibration equipment, which sneaks me in at around my $1000 goal.
Many of the differences of the two monitors don't mean anything to me (the one I will buy will be plugged into the Mac Pro with the DVI... I don't need the other connections the Samsung offers), but ease of calibration and picture quality, and reliability are everything.
I know NEC is getting ready to come out with a 26" widescreen but my sense is that this will be too expensive for me, and besides that, it seems to keep getting pushed back. Eizo makes the s2410, but the best street price I've seen on that is around $1500, so it blows the budget out of the water. Someone will inevitably mention the Dell 2407 too. I've looked into those, and the typical word from people who know what they are talking about is that the Dells simply aren't in the same league for Photo editing. Add in my previous (terrible) experiences with Dell monitors (everything, really) and I'm not really considering them an option. There may be other monitors out there I've missed, but I have a feeling I've narrowed it down to the strong contenders in this screen size.
So, I guess my question is, Which direction would all of you who have been doing this for a while go? I'm pretty tech savvy, and do all my scenic and lighting drafting on my computer, but I admit that I sometimes notice my eyes glazing over as I read the very detailed posts about monitor calibration. I'm sure I'd get it, but ease of use is a strong selling point, and if the Apple monitor really is going to give the same or superior quality with less trouble, then that's a plus. At the same time, if the only way to get a good apple CD is to walk into the mac store down the street, pay retail price (plus tax, which is no small thing here in Texas... nearly 10%), and be prepared to return it, repeatedly, then Samsung might be the way to go.
Or is the Eizo simply superior to the other two, and worth the extra money, and I should just accept that cost as the cost of my "hobby"? I'm not the biggest geek over stuff like this, but I do work as a designer, and work with color intensively in a live setting every day, so once I get further into this, I am going to be picky.
So, if you were buying a 23 - 24" for editing, what would you do?
Also, I'm interested in feedback on calibration units. I've heard good stuff about the Spyder2 S2100 and the Pantone Eye-One Display 2 and GRETAGMACBETH Eye-One Display 2's... any thoughts on the best one to pick up for a Mac Intel system?
I've rambled long enough... time to get outside for a while. Thanks in advance for the feedback!