Apple Thunderbolt Display review

11 Oct 2011

A superb, if pricey, partner to the latest generation of MacBooks, offering superb image quality and Thunderbolt connectivity

Price when reviewed: 
899(£899 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
5

With Intel's Thunderbolt technology gracing the latest slew of MacBooks and Mac minis, Apple has now revealed the perfect monitor to match. By taking the body of the 27in LED Cinema Display and adding Intel's lightning-quick connectivity to the mix, Apple's multitalented Thunderbolt Display is more than just a 27in monitor. It doubles as a slick docking station, adding 2.1 speakers and throwing in an HD webcam for good measure.

At a glance, the Thunderbolt Display is identical to the standard LED Cinema Display. They share the same stunning good looks – that hefty aluminium figure looks and feels like it’s worth every penny of the £899 asking price. And both have the same LCD panel at their core, an LED-backlit, 2,560 x 1,440 IPS unit.

Apple Thunderbolt Display

The integrated set of 2.1 speakers still carry a crisp, weighty tune, and the integrated webcam receives a welcome upgrade, leaping from 640 x 480 to a crisp 1,280 x 720.

Functionally, it's neater than ever. Where the captive cable trailing from the previous LED Cinema Display required separate mini-DisplayPort and USB connections, Intel's Thunderbolt does it with a single cable. That super-fast connection provides enough bandwidth to carry them all at once.

And the Thunderbolt Display has more than only three USB 2 sockets. At the rear of the monitor, you’ll find three USB 2 sockets, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, and a Thunderbolt port for daisy-chaining high-speed devices, such as hard disk RAID arrays and high-end video capture devices. There’s even a MagSafe connector for charging your MacBook from.

Apple Thunderbolt Display - ports

Image quality is superb. There's no onscreen display, and only brightness is adjustable from within OS X's display options, but the Thunderbolt Display delivers incredible images straight out of the box. The LED backlighting delivers eye-popping brightness and the IPS panel combines wide viewing angles with vibrant, accurate colour reproduction. The glossy finish is the only low point; we frequently found ourselves cranking up the brightness to compensate in our bright, sunny office space.

Details

Price ex VAT £749
Price inc VAT £899
Overall rating 5
Image quality 6
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 3

Main specifications

Screen size 27.0in
Aspect ratio 16:9
Resolution 2560 x 1440
Screen brightness 421cd/m2
Pixel response time 12ms
Contrast ratio 824:1
Dynamic contrast ratio N/A
Pixel pitch 0.233mm
Horizontal viewing angle 178 degrees
Vertical viewing angle 178 degrees
Speaker type 2.1
Speaker power ouput 49W
TV tuner no
TV tuner type N/A

Connections

DVI inputs 0
VGA inputs 0
HDMI inputs 0
DisplayPort inputs 0
Scart inputs 0
HDCP support yes
Upstream USB ports 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
3.5mm audio input jacks 0
Headphone output no
Other audio connectors 0

Accessories supplied

Other cables supplied Captive Thunderbolt cable, Captive MagSafe power adapter
Internal power supply yes

Power consumption

Peak power consumption N/A
Idle power consumption N/A

Image adjustments

Brightness control? no
Contrast control? no
Colour temperature settings none
Extra adjustments none

Ergonomics

Forward tilt angle -5 degrees
Backward tilt angle 25 degrees
Swivel angle 0 degrees
Height adjustment N/A
Pivot (portrait) mode? no

Dimensions

Dimensions 652 x 209 x 491mm (WDH)
Weight 10.800kg

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