Apple ADB Display. Apple USB Display. Apple Firewire Display. You wouldn’t use the name of an interconnect for a monitor, would you? I didn’t think so. But, that’s exactly what Apple did, and I’m scratching my head trying to figure out why.
Sure, Thunderbolt is special. With a bi-directional stream of 10 Gbps each, it is 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and 12 times faster than FireWire 800. Thunderbolt is fast.
You can also daisy-chain. With a single Thunderbolt connection you can daisy-chain additional monitors and storage devices, up to six, to your Mac. I believe the Thunderbolt Display is the first mass produced monitor with a Gigabit Ethernet port, which you access via the Thunderbolt connection. You also get access to the rest of the ports behind the Apple Thunderbolt Display: three USB 2.0 and a FireWire 800. Thunderbolt is useful.
Thunderbolt might just be Apple’s next interconnect technology for everything. My guess is that Apple may even replace the 30-pin connector used on the iPod, iPad, and iPhone. Imagine how fast syncing would be with a Thunderbolt-equipped iPad? Thunderbolt is the future.
Yes, Thunderbolt is great, but Apple Thunderbolt Display?
Update: Final words by Anand Lai Shimpi at Anandtech after reviewing the Apple Thunderbolt Display:
The real improvements here are obviously those enabled by Thunderbolt. Apple is turning its line of displays into docks for its mobile computers rather than just external displays. It started with integrating MagSafe and has culminated in GigE and FireWire controllers now a part of the display. For MacBook Air owners who don’t have options for these high speed interfaces to begin with, the Thunderbolt Display is a must-have. If your MBA is a secondary or tertiary computer that only gets taken on trips perhaps the Thunderbolt Display isn’t so life changing. For those users who have moved from older MacBook Pros to the 13-inch MBA however, the Thunderbolt Display is a wonderful companion.