With all the kerfuffle about the launch of Mac OS X Lion and the refreshed MacBook Airs and Mac Minis yesterday, one new Apple product got lost in the excitement.
The new 27in Cinema Display is essentially a £900 monitor but with the added extra of a Thunderbolt connection. The monitor has three cables emerging from its rear. One to connect to the power socket on the wall, one to power your MacBook via its MagSafe adapter, and finally and most importantly a Thunderbolt cable which promises two channels of 10-Gbps throughput in both directions.
The Thunderbolt connection makes it about 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and up to 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and as a docking station will turn your newly purchased MacBook Air into an iMac. The new 2560 x 1440 resolution monitor not only transmits the video from your MacBook but also works in the other direction.
The new display will give you access to three USB 2.0 ports on the rear of the monitor as well as a FireWire 800 port, an Ethernet port and another Thunderbolt port. This final connection will allow you to daisy-chain other peripherals, though so far very few Thunderbolt accessories have come to market. You also get the use of the webcam and speakers from the display.
“The Apple Thunderbolt Display is the ultimate docking station for your Mac notebook,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “With just one cable, users can dock with their new display and connect to high performance peripherals, network connections and audio devices.”
So, if you have £900 handy to splash out on a docking station, then you could probably do worse than buying the Thunderbolt Display.