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The biggest, and possibly the only, issue here is USB 2.0 - it feels so outdated considering that nearly all PCs have USB 3.0 now.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

    Exactly. I can easily use my Dell 24" monitor with my Macbook Pro, my PC and if I wanted, my PS3.
  • robco - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    The Apple displays are pretty good. Dell also offers a similar display, but at the same price point. Having all the connections running through a single cable is nice.

    One thing I do wish they would have done for 13" MBP and MBA owners is add an MXM slot so users could configure the display with dedicated graphics. I understand there are other subnotebooks being announced with docks that have dedicated GPUs, it would have been neat if Apple could have done this with their display. It's not as if they don't already do this with the iMac. That would allow more people to be able to use a MBA as their primary machine.
  • badjohny - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    The one thing I wish they would do is build a mid range video card into the monitor. Sony has shown that having an external video card through thunderbolt is possible.

    Most laptops now have junk for video cards and when your on the go, thats probably fine. But what if after you do a day of work, you come home and plug your macbook with its intel 3000 video into this monitor, and the monitor has a radeon 67xx in it? even a 65xx would be nice.
  • lolatapple - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    I hope Thunderbolt succeeds. Why are we being complacent and accepting only 5 GBPS USB and other ports like displayport?

    UNIFY THE PORTS! 1 PORT for every device, with enough bandwidth to do everything and transfer at lightning fast speeds. I'm ALL FOR IT!
  • assassin37 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    I think this is a step in the right direction, as my interests lie in the ability to have a 30+ inch monitor
    at 2560 x 1600 running 120hz, thunderbolt and DP 1.2 each can make this happen, I could then sell my 27"
    3d acer 120hz, and my hp zr30w ips display and get one monitor with the best of both worlds, accurate colors and smooth 120hz
  • AnnonymousCoward - Sunday, July 24, 2011 - link

    I'd like a 2560x1600@120Hz monitor too, but this is in no way a step towards that.
  • Guspaz - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    An odd choice to exclude everything but thunderbolt supporting displays. Apple's Cinema Displays have seen some success among PC users because they're good displays, and they're actually cheaper than Dell's equivalent displays (MSRP anyhow). Example: Apple's 27" tbolt display (or cinema) is $999 CAD, while Dell's U2711 is $1099 CAD MSRP.
  • Penti - Sunday, July 24, 2011 - link

    Here in Sweden the Dell U2711 is actually about $375 CAD less. That's only when not counting with Apple's own resell price. Add another $150 CAD when comparing with the Swedish Apple Store price.
  • Griswold - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    More screens I can never buy because I do not live in a basement.

    And before somebody asks, yes I tried and they failed. Sticking to Eizo, they may not look as nice when turned off, but sure do a better job for me when turned on.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Sunday, July 24, 2011 - link

    but 16:9 glossy = fail. Ya know, we've had better since 5 years ago.

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