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back to article Apple unveils 'World's First Thunderbolt Display'

What with all the hoo-hah on Wednesday over the release of Mac OS X Lion and updates to the Mac mini and MacBook Air, one nice new piece of Cupertinian kit slipped in under the radar: what Apple calls the "World's First Thunderbolt Display". Apple 27-inch Thunderbolt Display That's Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Air sitting in …

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Cheap!

For once that's actually not a bad price for an Apple product! NEC offer a monitor with the same size and resolution, currently $1,199 on Amazon US. Dell also offer a similar monitor for $899, but it doesn't have LED backlighting or built-in speakers. Well done Apple!

(Though I'd still prefer a matte anti-glare screen, not glossy.)

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JC_
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Meh

Hmm...

CFL (Dell's monitor) actually gives a much wider colour gamut. And have you seen the size of these monitors? Any depth saved from LED doesn't stop them from being *huge*. The Dell has the matte finish and no crappy built-in speakers.

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I don't think cheap is the right word

In Australia the Apple is 50% more expensive than the Dell, and that rises to 75% if you use an autoclub membership to buy the Dell. I think the new bezel is an improvement but it's still got that glossy surface finish.

An LED backlight is not automatically better than a CCFL one. The equivalent Dell monitor has a high gamut CCFL backlight, so it's (ironically?) a far superior choice for creative types, photographers etc.

For those that like low quality speakers the Dell supports the full range of clip on soundbars.

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So what's the point?

I think I missed the reason why we should have another video port. Especially considering that we have three MacBooks which all have different video ports (HDMI this, mini that, whatever), and it is a pain in the ass.

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Facepalm

Isn't it obvious?

In order to be incompatible with everyone else. Apple have a lifetime achievement award in it.

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Anonymous Coward

title

And yet still lag Sony as a very distant 2nd on incompatable, proprietary shit often marring what was an otherwise fine bit of kit.

atrac only supporting, checkin to checkout songs first gen NetMD, I'm lookin at you buddy. 80 hours playtime from a single AA battery spoilt by having to hunt down which frigging MD I had a song on if I wanted to juggle what I had on a disc >.<

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It's not a video port; it is backwards compatible

The new port, codeveloped with Intel, can be used to interface to displays, storage (at better-than-eSata speeds), peripherals, external graphics cards, etc. That's why it has been developed. The objective is to further shrink the number of ports on computers, and a secondary benefit taken advantage of by this monitor is that the monitor can act as a break-out box since it provides USB, Firewire, ethernet and Thunderbolt ports while connecting to the computer via a single cable.

If you have any mini-displayport peripherals, you can plug those directly into your Thunderbolt port instead. It's backwards compatible.

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Trollface

@Justa

I seem to remember the same things being said about the inclusion of USB on the original iMacs way back...

Anti-Apple bigots never change.

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Headmaster

better-than-eSata speeds?

Is that parroted marketing or measurement? 1% better or what? Under High-Speed I/O Performance Apple says 10 Gbps (but of course that's just theoretical), but if you scroll down you can see Apple's table for Promise Pegasus R6 Thunderbolt Performance, and notice that it omits eSata and ExpressCard/34 from comparison and instead chooses the lowly FireWire 800 [A].

MacWorld measured 2GB writes between 161.8 to 215.6 MB/s with a Pegasus R6 Thunderbolt under RAID 0 and between 160.1 to 210.5 MB/s under RAID 5. For 2GB reads, the figures were between 133.5 to 178.6 MB/s under RAID 0 and between 160.1 to 183.5 MB/s under RAID 5 [B].

What would a SATA "6 Gbps" ExpressCard do with a eSATA III drive? I don't know, but hopefully you get the point.

The future looks great though and it is a nice edition to hardware ecology.

[A] http://www.apple.com/thunderbolt/

[B] http://www.macworld.com/article/161139/2011/07/thunderbolttests.html

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Headmaster

HDMI this

Jobs don't do HDMI bro.

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Gold badge

It's PCI express over a cable

Given many graphics chips and other ICs are designed to interface to either PCI express or USB then if you want to provide a high end expansion bus then making it supply PCI express signals means you need very little additional components.

Thunderbolt is not proprietary, anyone can use it, although PC makers won't as they only like to fit cheap crap to their computers. There is plenty of need for something better than USB as even USB3 is lacking DMA, something that even an Amiga 1000 from 1985 had.

Do you remember how much faster EIDE discs became when they went from PIO to UDMA? well that's the sort of difference between USB and a decent bus like Firewire or Thunderbolt.

Not to mention Thunderbolt is like SCSI in that you can daisychain multiple devices from one port. So no need for 6 USB ports wasting valuable space.

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@AC 20:24GMT

It's not like that any more - not been for a while actually - the current SonicStage (I use v4.3 and an MZ-RH1) doesn't do the check-in and check-out stuff, and allows you to, for example, record something on your MD recorder to disc in Linear PCM and then pull it off the MD recorder directly as a WAV using the USB connection. All very civilised now.

But I don't think anyone would argue that Sony have made DRM mistakes in the past, not even Sony... And if they do, they deserve a slap.

On the Apple / Thunderbolt front, they're not trying to make things less compatible I don't think - you can actually just use the the Thunderbolt port as a DisplayPort if you want to with your existing display; Thunderbolt is just a single connector for DisplayPort and PCI Express really, which does make it ideal for what they've done with this screen and it being a break-out for peripherals too.

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Helpfully,

XKCD has come up with a timely reason that Thunderbolt is a good idea:

http://xkcd.com/927/

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Ru
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Stop

Re: PCI express over a cable

You're answering the wrong question. What is its worthiness as a display interface?

I can see it saving a bit of hardware and connector real-estate in compact machines, especially ones with a graphics core in the CPU. At that point, it becomes useful to have it even on discrete graphics cards, for the sake of having a common interconnect on everything, even if it doesn't necessarily offer any technical benefits to things like discrete graphics cards.

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Happy

Its not a video port!

Its a data port. Its basically an extension of the PCI-E data lines with interleaved video with backwards compatibility to mini display port. I have a brand new iMac with thunderbolt and yet I can plug my old Dell monitor in to it with the mini display port to DVI adapter I bought for my old MacBook.

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Stop

Comparing apples with pears

You might have missed the point that Thunderbolt does quite a bit more than any of the other display connector standard. You can't, for instance, double head a laptop with a pair of these displays of this size using anything else.

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Facepalm

Doubt they said that- USB was already common on PCs

@Ted Treen; "I seem to remember the same things ["In order to be incompatible with everyone else"] being said about the inclusion of USB on the original iMacs way back... Anti-Apple bigots never change."

Given that the unremarkable PC I bought several months *before* the iMac came out already had two USB ports- as did many others- this sounds like a strawman argument.

Granted, USB peripherals weren't that common back then, and the iMac probably helped boost the *use* of the interface.

However, your argument- that people were supposedly attacking Apple for being proprietary with USB when the interface was *already* common on many bog standard beige-box PCs- sounds like nonsense.

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FAIL

Re

Shrink the number of ports?

I still have just as many peripherals. Giving me less ports is just stupid.

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JC_
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Meh

£899 in the UK

It'll be a lovely screen, judging by the Dell U2711, which it shares a panel with. Not sure that it's be worth the extra £250.

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re Dell U2711

Thanks for the heads-up about the identical display panel.

Does anyone know what would be a good quality 24 or 26 incher? I gather the price jump up to 27 is something like double!

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FAIL

Yes, but...

The Dell appears to be a monitor.

The Apple product contains an HD camera, high-quality audio, three USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 800 port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Thunderbolt port for daisy-chaining additional high-performance devices.

So you get what you pay for I suppose.

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Meh

Hmm

I'll grant you that the Dell doesn't have ethernet or firewire ports, but if you use those the computer you'll plug in to it probably does already. A few seconds of convenience for *how much* extra money?

The Dell certainly has built in USB ports, and you should see the hilarious number of different inputs on the back of it. An HD webcam costs $40.

High quality audio? Built in to a monitor? Surely you jest.

<troll>I see Apple still haven't worked out how to allow the user to adjust the height of their screens to optimise their workstation ergonomics without phone books.</troll>

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Yes but, yes but

it doesn't work with the Mac Pro - the only Mac other than the Mini which doesn't already include a camera... So why is the camera there?

And the in-built speakers will be at the same level as TV speakers, maybe useful for previewing work but useless for critical listening.

My Mac Pro will stay connected to the A$500 cheaper Dell, it does only one thing but does it well which keeps the cost down.

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FAIL

Re: Yes, but....

"...high-quality audio..."

Using in-built monitor speakers? 2.1 only? 49 watts? Yeah.......right....... Kool-aid tasty is it?

Of course in the non-Apple world, monitors with additional USB ports, built in speakers, webcams and such have been around for some time. The thunderbolt port would seem to be a novelty, but since nobody else uses it that's hardly surprising.....

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Coffee/keyboard

High quality audio? Built in to a monitor? Surely you jest

ROFL! New keyboard please :)

The one advantage I see of LCD / Plasma screens is that I can place nice speakers next to them without getting big purple patches.

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Happy

Why the camera?

So you can use your laptop in clamshell mode of course. I didn't buy the old apple monitor preferring to get a dell to work with my apple laptop but the I found the lack of camera in the monitor inconvenient.

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Angel

27" lcd displays are affordable

Nah, you can find a decent 27" lcd if you don't care about the delicious high resolution panel. If you stay at 1920x1080 the displays are rather affordable taking into the extra-size.

http://www.google.com/search?q=27%22+lcd+screen&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=lyu&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&prmd=ivns&source=univ&tbm=shop&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=djQoTq7_Lsrl0QHL5IzrCg&ved=0CFgQrQQ&biw=1501&bih=838

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FAIL

Only 1000 to 1 Contrast Ratio???

Blah... My three year old LG has 10,000 to 1 and Samsung has a 23" 16:9 LED backlit monitor which it claims has a 5,000,000 to 1 dynamic contrast ratio.

On and BenQ has a 12,000,000 to 1 LED.

Blah. Blah, I say...

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Mine is 20000:1

Here is a hint. Someone does lie and it isn't companies like Apple who does it.

People kept their CRT "monsters" for years for some reason and they either moved to high end Apple or very high end plasma displays.

I have seen/used an Apple display with no calibration applied, that was the day they earned my respect.

Of course if someone will pay such price, better add something like Pantone Huey (rgb version unless you are dtp pro) so they will get best out of it. It is the least expensive option, way more higher priced calibration solutions exist.

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FIA

Which BenQ?

Just out of interest which BenQ is that?

I can only see 1 27" on their site, the M2700HD, and this has a much lower resolution and the same contrast ratio of 1000:1. It does have a better brightness figure too. Oh, and I suspect it's CCFL rather than LED backlit too. I'd be suprised if it was an IPS display also, but I've no evidence either way as they don't seem to mention the panel tech used.

Even dropping down to the 24" the largest contrast ratio is 3000:1 (same res as the 27" too, and LED backlit.)

Dynamic contrast ratio doesn't really mean much, as it's just dimming the backlight in mainly dark screens. (Although modern zone based LED backlight dimming is supposed to be quite good.) I'd be suprised if any of these are doing that though, LED often seems to be used to make things thinner (so they're edge lit.)

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wow facts hit hard

So, I dared to say 3 Taiwanese brands openly lie about their contrast ratio which itself sounds absurd (10000!) and got 3 thumbs down.

Please ask a person who knows about human eye just how many tones of gray can one see.

They do lie and nobody stops them, that is the trick. Dynamic contrast is also part of trick. My "acer" monitor also claims 20.000/1 ratios but I really didn't buy that claim which a very basic test pattern can show almost instantly.

Btw, consumer/gamer/non specialised video cards can only output 256 shades of gray. For more, you go with Matrox etc.

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re

I have the 5 mil : 1 monitor. I can guarantee the screen quality is better than this one.

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Static vs Dynamic Contrast Ratio

NoneSuch: The numbers you're quoting are dynamic contrast ratio. This is a system that dynamically adjusts the backlight brightness, while watching a movie for example, to make the dark scenes very dark and the bright scenes very bright. It is a meaningless metric when looking at a static image on the screen, and I generally turn it off because it usually likes to make white "brighter than the surface of the sun" to get those ridiculous numbers.

Meanwhile, Apple has quoted the static contrast ratio, and based on the previous 27" Cinema Display it's most likely telling the truth, although unlike most CCFL monitors that monitor has a very wide range of contrast ratio depending on brightness.

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Profoundly unimpressed...

If Apple want to impress me...

Where's the damned Apple 4K Cinema Display they loaned to Intel to demo Thunderbolt when it launched??

*That* I would get in line at the Apple store for tomorrow, if the price was half reasonable. And that's something you won't hear me say very often!

Mike

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i think

the mini displayport on your macbook will probably work, check it out.

just a shame they don't stick a proper dvi port on the back so you could use it with a non apple product. they'd get some more sales through that.

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Only half-right

You need the € 100 mini-display port to dual-link DVI for anything over 1900. I know I just had to shell out for one for the Dell U2711. Nice as the Apple screens are they, for desktop use the Dell (comes pre-calibrated and a nice certificate to prove it) is better, and, for films, well you can get a 1900 x behemoth for about half the price.

Interestingly the LED backlight doesn't do much to reduce the power draw on the screens with Apple's current 27" quoted as having well over 100 W when in user.

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Displayport

I've got the Dell U2410 (not enough space for the 27" unfortunately).

Got it connected up using a mini-displayport to displayport lead from Toshiba fo £8. Works a treat. The U2711 doesn't have displayport input?

Actually went for the Dell after seeing the results of someone trying to calibrate one of the larger cinema displays (Maybe 30"). When you calibrate one part of the screen, another part is not calibrated because of the colour spread across it. The Dell on the other hand was pretty consistent and was much cheaper than an NEC or EIZO.

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JC_
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DisplayPort - Check

Yep, it's got it, plus dual-DVI, HDMI & VGA.

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Headmaster

Boring pendantic crap

"A single two-ended cable attaches to a..."

Don't all cables have at least two ends?

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Windows

Pedant baiting

It also has a circumference which when plugged into a fairly simple formula with the distance between the two aforementioned ends will give an area. Of course allowing for variances in the curcumference along the length introduced by manufacturing imperfections is a whole other kettle of fish best left to those who actually know what they are talking about.

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Trollface

Re: Boring pendantic crap

I'm sure you can pick up a möbius cable from somewhere...

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Pedant baiter baiting

"It also has a circumference"

Circular logic will only make you dizzy.

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Holmes

Not so much "at least" as "only"

My dad has an Apple Cinema display and its cable is like a white cat o'nine tails -- power, USB, and DVI sprawling from both ends.

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Trollface

No.

Not all cables have two ends. I've had a monitor that used a cable that was permanently attached to the monitor, thus it only had one end. I would agree the the contained wires had two ends though.

Also, I would not be too surprised to find "terminating" cables; similar to the plug thingys used for old SCSI connections.

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Pint

two-ended cables are old hat

The Apple mobius cable interface will be invented soon enough

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VGA to monitor cable.

I would argue that you could say one of the ends of your cable was a monitor.

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Totally unusable

Why do Apple (and many others) insist on making everything as glossy as sin.

I don't want glare, reflection, or shine. I want quality matt screens.

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If you want a matt screen...

...put an anti-reflective coating or screen protector on it.

Glossy gives you the choice; you can make a gloss screen matt, but you can't make a matt screen glossy. Apple got that right.

Mike

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Anonymous Coward

what if your favorite car came only in white and you fancied it red?

Well just get a can of paint, a brush and get busy. Sure there's some trouble and it won't look as good as a proper job, but that's academic - who'd want a color other than white anyway?

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Boffin

Lord Kelvin would be proud

Apple reinvented the coaxial cable.

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