Apple Confirms End of the Thunderbolt Display

Posted by at 10:31 am on June 24, 2016

Apple Thunderbolt Display

Apple on Thursday confirmed that it was no longer producing the only independent monitor it was still making, the 27-inch Thunderbolt Display. The $999 high-quality device was popular with graphic artists and other large-monitor enthusiasts in its heyday, and was designed to promote the then-new Thunderbolt port on 2011 and later MacBook Air and Pro models. The peripheral featured a 16:9, 2560×1440 display that was well-regarded in terms of out-of-the-box color fidelity, and included a built-in FaceTime HD (720p) camera, mic, speakers with subwoofer, a built-in MagSafe cable, and a design intended to complement the iMac and MacBook Pro lines.

The monitor also included a Gigabit Ethernet port and Firewire 800 port, and used a permanently-attached combination “octopus” cord that combined the MagSafe and Thunderbolt connectors. The Thunderbolt Display also included a separate Thunderbolt port, three USB 2.0 ports, and in later models a MagSafe to MagSafe 2 adaptor for the cable on the back. The monitor could not be used with pre-2011 Macs that only had a Mini DisplayPort, despite Thunderbolt having a compatible connector and working with mDP in other products.

We’re discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display,” an Apple spokesperson confirmed to The Verge. It will be available through Apple.com, Apple’s retail stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users.” The Thunderbolt Display was also a popular add-on for Mac mini buyers, as the budget computer fit nicely on the stand underneath the screen. The company did not say if it was planning to replace the monitor itself with any form of successor, though a number of Mac Pro buyers have speculated that Apple would eventually produce an updated 4K Retina version of the hardware, following the release of the 5K iMac last year.

As with the Mac Pro itself, the standardization of the 40Gb/sec Thunderbolt 3 connector with the physical form factor of the USB 3.1 Type-C port could give Apple motivation to produce both a new Mac Pro (which has suffered from a lack of updates since 2013) and the Thunderbolt Display (which has likewise not been updated since 2011). However, thus far the company has expressed no indication that might do so, and an opportunity to clarify its plans for the two products at the Worldwide Developers Conference came and went without any mention of the products, suggesting Apple is finally fully out of the monitor business apart from its built-in displays.

The Thunderbolt Display remains compatible with the Mid-2011 MacBook Air, the Mid-2012 MacBook Air (which can drive up to two Thunderbolt Displays alongside its built-in display), the 2011 and 2012 MacBook Pros (the latter of which can run up to two Thunderbolt Displays as well as an external HDMI display alongside the built-in one), and the 2013 Mac Pro, which can run up to six Thunderbolt Displays on its six Thunderbolt ports. The 2011 MBP can chain two Thunderbolt Displays, but the built-in LCD display may turn off in that scenario, according to Apple tech notes on the matter.

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