New Thunderbolt Port Could Enable Deskto

May 13 [Mon], 2013, 20:18

Ever since it debuted the first iMac with USB instead of legacy ports -- at a time when not including a floppy drive was also considered daring -- Apple has been ahead of the curve when it comes to the ports and interfaces on its computers. In early 2011, it replaced its DisplayPort technology with the Thunderbolt port, developed by Intel, which let its laptops connect to a new Thunderbolt display along with high-speed external hard drives.

a new "Thunderbolt Technology Update" just demoed by Intel will allow "4K video file transfer and display simultaneously." Apple expert Marco Armentby saying "This could enable the first generation of desktop Retina displays."

What is the Retina Display?

"Retina Display" is Apple's brand name for a screen so high-resolution that the unaided eye can't make out individual pixels at a typical viewing distance. The first Retina Display was on the iPhone 4 in 2010, and it has since come to Apple's full-sized iPad tablet and its 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops. (The displays on the MacBook Pro laptops aren't as sharp as the ones on Apple's mobile devices, because laptops are typically used from a greater distance.)

Does this mean that Apple's displays are the sharpest ones on the market?

Not quite. Not all of Apple's products use the Retina Display; the iPad Mini, for instance, despite costing more than the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD tablets, has a fuzzier screen than both. Many other mobile devices have screens with comparable sharpness to Apple's Retina gadgets. And Google's new Chromebook Pixel laptop has an even sharper display than the Retina MacBook Pros, although it's in the "old" 4:3 aspect ratio instead of today's standard 16:9.

What kind of displays should we expect to see?

Arment says that "it wouldn't surprise me" to see a 23-inch screen with 4K resolution, which means roughly 4,000 pixels horizontally. It would be four times as sharp as a 1080p HD display of the same size.

When would they be out and how much would they cost?

If Apple launched a desktop Retina Display using Intel's new technology, it would probably be sometime next year, as "production is set to ramp up in 2014."

Apple's current Thunderbolt displays cost $999 for a 27-inch screen. The Retina Display MacBook Pro laptops are available at a $200-$400 price premium over the non-Retina models, depending on what other improved specs and features they add.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
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