Apple Thunderbolt Display 27in monitor
Review After Apple’s hoo-ha about the Thunderbolt port on its newest Macs and MacBook Pros, it’s great to finally have something to plug into it. But I began testing this monitor with tainted expectations: less ‘OK show me what you can do’ and more ‘oh lordy, yet another locked-in connectivity standard’.
It ended with tainted love.
The 27inh Apple Thunderbolt Display looks and feels just like the 27in (non-Thunderbolt) Apple Cinema Display. It’s like a sawn-off 27in iMac. And like both these other products, the sheer visual quality of the screen is absolutely outstanding.
No really, the visuals are as perfect as I’ve seen on any pro-class display anywhere - ever. They are sharp, contrasty, easy on the eye, accurate. Tilting and swivelling the display on its perfectly smooth-moving stand causes no deterioration of what you see.
Even more ports
In fact, the visuals remain usable from the most oblique angles: the only way you’d be unable to make out what’s on-screen would be to turn it round so you’re facing the back.
The back is revealing, though. In addition to the plug-in power cable, moulded in to the case at the rear is a pair of daisychain cables: one MagSafe power cable and a Thunderbolt pass-through cord. These enable you to power a MacBook Pro or Air with the MagSafe - effectively powering the computer from the display - while mirroring or expanding the laptop's video capability.
The array up close
Thunderbolt is designed to carry more than video, of course, and so the connection here also carries data to support the display's hub of ports: three USB 2.0, one Firewire 800 and an Ethernet socket. Also provided is another Thunderbolt port, so you can continue daisychaining additional Thunderbolt peripherals.
I duly rigged up the display with a MacBook Pro in expanded desktop mode and plugged in a couple of hard drives: one USB 2.0, the other a Firewire 800. I tried an Ethernet cable too. The only thing I didn’t try was daisychaining a second Thunderbolt accessory because I didn’t have any. In fact, I’m not sure I can think of any, other than another Apple Thunderbolt Display.
One extra 27in display not enough for you?
Just be warned that Thunderbolt daisychaining only allows for Thunderbolt devices. That is, you can plug the display into a Mini DisplayPort on a pre-Thunderbolt Mac, no problem, but then you wouldn’t be able to daisychain any DVI, VGA or DisplayPort devices or adapters from it.
Anyway, my point is that the display gave not the slightest flicker, freeze or twitch as I plugged and unplugged away at the back.
Then how about two?
But did Apple update its Boot Camp drivers to support Thunderbolt? Darn, yes it did. Mac OS X or Windows 7, the Thunderbolt Display took over everything from my laptop - even the audio, since the display contains its own 49W 2.1 stereo speakers. And a mic. And an HD webcam.
In terms of power consumption, the Thunderbolt Display sucked up a permissible 58-60W on its own, rising to 70-74W while also powering a MacBook Pro. Once I started adding external disk drives, this rose to 80W.
Oh oh so lovely. Oh oh so expensive. What else is there to say? It’s an Apple product, which means it’s built to a standard that makes you wet your pants but priced to tighten your scrotum. Just keep in mind that a Thunderbolt Display needs a Thunderbolt Mac, and I wish there were more Thunderbolt peripherals to make me feel better about the whole Thunderbolt thing. If there were, and the display was about £150 cheaper, I’d rate it at 90 per cent or higher. ®
Thanks to Square Group for the review sample
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