Along with today’s MacBook Air and Mac mini updates, Apple has also updated their 27” Cinema Display. The display now goes by a new name: the Apple Thunderbolt Display (ATD). As the name implies, the display now features Intel’s new Thunderbolt interface, which Apple has heavily adopted in all new 2011 Macs. The ATD is world’s first commercially available Thunderbolt display and the second Thunderbolt device, the first one being Promise’s Pegasus enclosure

Lets go through the specifications now:

Apple Thunderbolt Display Specifications
Screen size 27"
Resolution 2560x1440
Panel type In-plane switching (IPS)
Brightness 375 cd/m2
Viewing angles 178°/178°
Contrast ratio 1000:1
Response time 12ms
Cables (built-in) Thunderbolt, MagSafe
Ports 3x USB 2.0, FireWire 800, Gigabit Ethernet, Thunderbolt
Video and audio FaceTime HD camera with mic, 2.1 speaker system
Dimensions (WxDxH) 25.7" x 8.15" x 19.35"
Weight 23.5lb
Price $999

Essentially, the ATD is just a 27” Cinema Display with Thunderbolt. The screen size is the same, the resolution is the same, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the panel was exactly the same as well. From outside, you can’t see any difference, sans the extra ports. The dimensions are a match. Even the price stays at $999. 

The difference comes when we talk about Thunderbolt and what it brings. The Cinema Display had three cables: Mini DisplayPort, MagSafe (power) and USB 2.0. Thanks to Thunderbolt, mDP and USB 2.0 have been merged into one and there are now only two cables: MagSafe and Thunderbolt.

Laptop-as-a-desktop users rejoice, the Thunderbolt Display features FireWire 800, USB 2.0 and Gigabit Ethernet - all of which are carried over the single Thunderbolt cable. There is also a second Thunderbolt port for daisy-chaining. As Thunderbolt provides up to 10Gb/s per channel, it’s more than adequate for 2560x1440 display and an external RAID box as we mentioned in our Promise Pegasus R6 & Mac Thunderbolt Review


Example of daisy-chaning 

Apple's Thunderbolt Display really shows us the potential of Thunderbolt by integrating many different interface standards into a single cable. Honestly the only thing that's missing is audio-out on the Thunderbolt Display itself for users who prefer external speakers. 

The biggest, and possibly the only, issue here is USB 2.0 - it feels so outdated considering that nearly all PCs have USB 3.0 now. We probably won't see  USB 3.0 support from Apple until Ivy Bridge brings it natively in 2012. However, even with only USB 2.0, the ATD is a great option for the owners of 2011 Macs with Thunderbolt. Apple will continue to sell the existing 27-inch Cinema Display as the new Thunderbolt Display will not work with machines that don't support Thunderbolt.

The Apple Thunderbolt Display is available from Apple's Online Store with an estimated shipping time of 6-8 weeks. 

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  • repoman27 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Right you are... I was looking at the specs for the 6570 for some reason. I wonder why Apple doesn't specifically list the new mini as being able to drive two ATDs?
  • chaos215bar2 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Now, all wee need is a similar Thunderbolt docking station that isn't tied to a specific monitor. Just include USB 3, Ethernet, HDMI, dual link DVI, maybe Firewire, and a Thunderbolt passthrough. I'd love to run everything through one cable, but I just don't see myself getting a 27" Apple monitor as long as competing 30" options are still around, and besides, this monitor definitely won't be working with a KVM any time soon.
  • tyger11 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Glossy display = intentional fail
    No USB 3 on the display = intentional fail

    I like that it's basically a docking station now, since they refuse to make an actual docking station for their laptops (what is UP with that?), though.
  • diamondsw2 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Since USB 3.0 isn't actually in the Intel chipsets yet, that would be rather hard to pull off. And seriously, let's get off the glossy vs matte thing already. >90% of displays are glossy.
  • extide - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Not really, just slap a 3rd party usb 3.0 chip in there like all the PC manufacturers do...
  • name99 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Uhh "intentional fail"? As in they WANT this product not to sell?

    Please explain to me what "intentional fail" means and how it differs from "stuff I want, not that my opinion matters because I'd never buy an Apple product anyway"?
  • mpschan - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Many people believe that Apple purposefully holds back on hardware features or break backwards compatibility so that they will be forced to upgrade their device in the future.

    E.g. Can't upgrade storage on their phones/tablets after purchase. Releasing the iPad without a camera or the iPhone without a front facing camera.

    So I believe that he really means is "designed obsolescence". Not immediately, but in a short time frame. Lack of USB 3.0 would fall under that category.
  • cyrusfox - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Correct me if I am wrong but I know DP can already handle USB transmissions(so no need for the thunderport) and I know ethernet can be used on the latest HDMI. I really have a hard time seeing the necessity of thunderbolt configuration. It seems to be just a branded Display port standard, only difference is this is a closed standard that potentially can ask for royalties.

    I am all for display port. Thunderbolt seems to retard its development though, not feeling warm fuzzies for the eerily similar but lacking any distinguishing innovation thunderbolt.
  • cyrusfox - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Yep, I was right!(DP 1.2 can support both USB and ethernet)

    So, Thunderbolt is a knockoff of a free open standard called Display port, why did apple and intel feel the need to take it private.
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Well bully for you!

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