If you do a lot of work on the web, having a large display can really help you get a lot of work done in a faster fashion.  More screen space means more multi-tasking.  More multi-tasking means you get more work done for the dollar hour than you can when restricted to a single workspace.

Even though my 24″ Apple Cinema Display died after two years — it has now been fixed by Apple under AppleCare warranty — I wasn’t completely shorn off the Apple tree.  In fact, I rather loved the new “Thunderbolt” technology that was invented to give faster communication between computers and devices.

When I decided to get a new 11-inch MacBook Air with Thunderbolt technology, I knew I had to also go for the 27-inch Thunderbolt Display to round out the new experience.

The first thing that hits you about the Thunderbolt display is just how massive it is — it immediately felt wider than my previous Cinema Display.  The colors are rich and deep.  The refresh response time is memeingful because it is so fast.

Here’s the official PR blurp about Thunderbolt technology:

Thunderbolt I/O technology lets you move data between your devices and your computer with unprecedented speed. With two channels of 10-Gbps throughput in both directions, it’s up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and up to 12 times faster than FireWire 800. And it allows you to connect as many as six devices through a single, compact port.

The ports on the Thunderbolt Display are quite terrific and much more robust than the three, plain, USB-only ports on my Cinema Display:

  • Three powered USB 2.0 ports
  • FireWire 800 port
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Thunderbolt port
  • Kensington security slot

The biggest disappointment with the Thunderbolt Display is in the reproduction of sound.  Apple is pressing the 2.1 stereo feature of the display — WITH SUBWOOFER! — as a big part of the Thunderbolt technology, but in reality, this is a display and not a set of speakers.  Music coming out of the Thunderbolt display sounds tinny and false and it echoes as if the bass were reverberating in a tin can.  I tried the display sound with various inputs and the sound was just not there.  I’ll have to stick to my external ancient Logitech 2.1 THX speakers for a few more years.

If you’re getting a new Thunderbolt computer from Apple, you really must also buy a Thunderbolt display to go with it — the technology was made to be married together — and that seamless excellence is worth all the multi-tasking in the world.

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