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The biggest, and possibly the only, issue here is USB 2.0 - it feels so outdated considering that nearly all PCs have USB 3.0 now.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 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    No, you're hopelessly confused. DP 1.2 provides one 720 Mbps AUX channel that can be utilized for such things as USB 2.0 or 100 Mbps Ethernet.

    The ATD provides Gigabit Ethernet, 3 powered USB 2.0 ports, 1 powered FireWire 800 port (all with their own controllers), and a Thunderbolt port so you can daisy chain more devices. 2 x 10 Gbps, full-duplex is WAY more bandwidth than any other external interface, on any consumer device ever produced, period. If you don't have any idea how that would be useful, that's your problem.
  • diamondsw2 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Whole lot of misinformation there. DisplayPort and Thunderbolt are both open standards - no more proprietary than USB 3.0 or SATA. There are no royalties or licensing to speak of. The only reason you're not seeing it in other products yet is Intel isn't selling the controller chip broadly, and it won't be built into the chipset until next spring.

    HDMI carries Ethernet (100Mbps only), and DP handles USB - but neither one can handle multiple gigabits of protocols the way Thunderbolt can. It really could end up one cable to rule them all on computers.
  • cyrusfox - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    You are right, thunderbolt is royalty free, But thunderbolt is not an open standard yet. Only two parties set the specs and only a handful with developer kits are able to implement them in devices. Thunderbolt may come out on top with its ability to take on such a high level of cross talk(10g's thanks to the Gennum GN2033 chips), DP1.2 has the same amount of display bandwidth but lacks the ability to deal with the same breadth of crosstalk(incoming data stream) as thunderbolt.

    The big difference between these two tech are Thunderbolt can handle huge amounts of incoming and out going data while DP is geared for high output with minimal input stream. DP has a huge consortium of adopters/supporters already(but it has been out for nearly 5 years as well). You are very right, Thunderbolt could take over, we'll see what happens.

    Nice docking connection though, hope it spreads to other manufacturers and becomes a standard.
  • ChristophWeber - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    You're missing the PCIe part in the TB protocol. Externalizing the computer guts in their entirety (well, up to 4 lanes of PCIe, anyway) is huge. Beyond superhubs (of which Apple's new display is the first inkling), think clustering up computers, peripherals, and more. All with a royalty-free tech, open standards and low cost parts. Comparable connectivity costs several hundred bucks today - 10GE, Infiniband, etc.
  • fnord123 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    As far as I can tell (via a search at NewEgg), this is the only monitor out there that satisfies the following criteria:
    * Greater than 1080p resolution
    * LED backlighting

    As such, when it becomes available, I am buying it. I've been waiting *years* for a decent monitor to come out that is over 1080p and has LED. I know the previous cinema display had it, but I figured I would wait for the new version, or for a competitor to ship one.

    I am totally sick of 1080p monitors. My Dell 20" from 2003 had 1200 pixels of vertical resolution. LED backlighting should not be too much to ask in addition.

    Kudos to Apple for meeting my purchase requirements. As soon as I verify this will work with my PC, I'm buying it. And a big fat "no sale" to the rest of the monitor manufacturers who keep selling 1080p drivel.
  • jasonliv - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    This new Cinema Display only supports Thunderbolt. It isn't backwards compatible with (mini) DisplayPort, DVI, etc. So unless your PC is a 2011 Macbook Pro/Air, iMac, or Mac Mini, I don't think it's going to work.
  • silvalli - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

  • StormyParis - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Using TB as (at last !) a standard dock connector is the way to go. If TB ever becomes mainstream, we'll at last be able to properly dock our gizmos, with just one cable, and dock all of them to the same dock: different models, brands, over time...

    My fear is that Apple might have injected a dose of "proprietary" if the spec, making it too expensive for third parties, or even closed.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Sunday, July 24, 2011 - link

    Don't forget about the power cable. TB enables a laptop to dock with 2 cables instead of 3 (yay). And it disables the capability of USB3.
  • SmCaudata - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    I'm going to stick with Dell Ultrasharps personally. Why just the one connection? My Dell has HDMI, 2x DVI, DP, VGA, and Component. It would be nice to have a single cable option, but I'm not going to buy a new computer for a new monitor and with lack of Thunderbolt on PCs at present this is a really only an attractive option for Mac owners. I don't think that Apple needed to put that many connections on, but at least a DP and USB connections would have been nice.

    Well, actually, even with extra connections I'd still go with the Ultrasharp for the warranty, matte display, and better color of the florescent backlighting. WLED isn't quite there yet IMO.

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