Along with the release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, new MacBook Airs, and new Mac minis comes one final announcement from Apple. Unlike the other newly announced products, the Apple Thunderbolt Display ships in 6-8 weeks but offers some revolutionary new changes to make it a “powerful docking station.”
The new display features the same form factor and size as the previous 27-inch display including its 2560x1440 resolution. Externally, the first clue that this display is different from previous displays is that it only features a Thunderbolt cable and MagSafe cable for connecting to various MacBook Air or MacBook Pro systems. Previously, a separate USB 2.0 cable was also needed.
On the back of the display a number of new ports complement the previous three powered USB 2.0 ports. Due to Thunderbolt’s native PCI Express support, the new display also features a FireWire 800 port and a Gigabit Ethernet port. There is also a Thunderbolt port to allow connecting an additional display or other peripheral.
Unfortunately, only the latest 15-inch or 17-inch MacBook Pros or iMacs provide dual Thunderbolt display support. The Apple Thunderbolt Display also features a built-in FaceTime HD camera with microphone and a built-in 2.1 49 watt speaker system. In addition, the display features an ambient light sensor.
Overall, this display is a fantastic upgrade and the first ever Thunderbolt display. This display is especially well-suited to the MacBook Air since it adds all of the ports found on a MacBook Pro. All of these features for the same $999 price tag make this an expensive but very capable display.
Update. The Apple Thunderbolt Display is now available for less than $950.