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4K could hit iMacs, Cinema Displays as early as 2014; could trickle down to MacBook Pros in 2015

With Google Inc.'s (GOOGnew "Pixel" Chromebooks beating Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) premium laptops in the pixels-per-inch (ppi) arms race, Apple is reportedly pondering releasing 4K Thunderbolt 2 displays for sometime in 2014.  4K (typically referring to 3840x2160 pixel displays) was a hot item at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.  While many argue it's an exercise in impracticality, others salivate at the super-sharp televisions, which are starting to trickle out onto the market this year.

I. Apple Creeps Towards 4K With New Intel Thunderbolt Release

Intel Corp. (INTC) recently showed off a demo called "Thunderbolt Technology Update", which is basically a second-generation Thunderbolt solution.  The next generation Thunderbolt is capable of piping "4K video file transfer and display simultaneously."


Marco Armanet, co-founder of Tumblr and founder of Instapaper, writes in his blog:

This could enable the first generation of desktop Retina displays: it wouldn’t surprise me if the first standalone Retina display was a 23” panel with exactly 4K resolution (3840?×?2160), run logically as 1920?×?1080 (1080p) at 2X, and driven by upgraded Thunderbolt ports in the next generation of MacBook Pros and Mac Pros.

Mr. Armanet is an avid iOS developer and Apple analyst.

Apple has also long been rumored to be developing a "smart" LCD TV.  If such a product is released in the next couple years, a 4K panel is a likely inclusion.

II. Could 4K MacBook Pros Also be on the Horizon?

If Apple's 4K monitors follow a similar release trajectory to its 2.5K monitors, it could see the tech trickle-down to a premium variant of its MacBook Pro laptops sometime around 2015.  The current ~2.5K MacBook Pro Retina units are rough 220 ppi; a 4K unit would be around 350 ppi.


The prospect of a 350 ppi MacBook Pro would be impressive, but not out of the ballpark.  Currently, the Galaxy S IV by Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) packs a 440 ppi, 1080p, 5-inch display.  Scaling up super-dense displays is difficult, but Apple and Google have shown that it can be done.

Apple currently offers "Retina Display" MacBook Pro laptops, priced at around $200-400 USD above the standard models.  In addition to being thinner/lighter, the Retina models pack the titular monitor, which is 2880xx1800 pixels in the 15-inch model and 2560x1600 pixels in the 13-inch model.

The company also retails a $999 USD Thunderbolt Display for use with its laptops and desktops.  That display packs a "2560-by-1440 LED-backlit display, a FaceTime HD camera, high-quality audio, three USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 800 port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Thunderbolt port for daisy-chaining additional high-performance devices."

The monitor is basically the same as the 27-inch iMac, sans the motherboard and processor chips.

Apple has drawn flack over its $50 USD sticker for Thunderbolt cables, however some loyal fans say the performance of the high-speed technology is worth the cost.

Sources: Engadget, Marco Armanet



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Cables
By Crazyeyeskillah on 4/10/13, Rating: 0
RE: Cables
By quiksilvr on 4/10/2013 9:44:32 AM , Rating: 5
I'm not the biggest fan of Apple either, but I have to say that Thunderbolt is NOT a proprietary format. It shares the same I/O as Mini DisplayPort and integrates PCIe into the mix.

The main reason why this cable is so expensive is because this isn't an ordinary cable. Due to the high speeds that these cables are rated for (10Gbps down and 10Gbps up simultaneously), a chip is integrated into the connectors.

This chip is very first gen and very expensive to manufacture because it is made out of silicon germanium. Furthermore, there are also a separate microcontroller and power management and voltage regulation chips as well.

So in short, there are four circuits in each end of a Thunderbolt cable.

As production increases and as more manufacturers begin to make more of these chips, prices will go down, but this time around it isn't entirely Apple's fault these cables cost so much.


RE: Cables
By Brazos on 4/10/2013 9:50:12 AM , Rating: 2
For all my regular cables I use www.monoprice.com. Don't know if they stock thunderbolt cables but don't they have some smarts built into them?


RE: Cables
By Crazyeyeskillah on 4/10/2013 10:36:19 AM , Rating: 1
On Proprietary:

Also, I would have bought a new apple cinema 27" if I could use it with a pc. Glossy isn't easy to find, and don't tell me about South Korea.


RE: Cables
By BRB29 on 4/10/2013 10:54:29 AM , Rating: 4
oh man let me tell you about south korea....


RE: Cables
By Trisped on 4/10/2013 5:14:39 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Due to the high speeds that these cables are rated for (10Gbps down and 10Gbps up simultaneously), a chip is integrated into the connectors.
Ethernet has had cables which deliver those speeds for years, and they do not have overpriced chips. In addition, the Ethernet cables are not limited to 3 meters.


RE: Cables
By ritualm on 4/11/2013 1:24:22 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Ethernet has had cables which deliver those speeds for years, and they do not have overpriced chips. In addition, the Ethernet cables are not limited to 3 meters.

Ethernet also is not designed to carry an electrical current along the entire span of the cable, besides the usual 0s and 1s. Power over Ethernet (POE) isn't very popular outside the surveillance systems market, and a large majority of routers and switches are not equipped to handle POE.

TB cables are limited to 3 meters because of electrical current losses i.e. physics, and the need to run bus-powered devices without additional external power.


RE: Cables
By Pandamonium on 4/17/2013 11:01:40 AM , Rating: 2
10GbE cables might have been around for "years", but they were fiber. Only recently have there been some copper-based 10GbE ethernet cables.

IIRC, thunderbolt was initially supposed to carry data over fiber and power over copper. Cost/complexity made Intel/Apple settle on copper for the first iteration of 10Gb Thunderbolt. But the plan was always to scale up to 100Gb, and move data to fiber.

As for why they couldn't have just used 10GbE copper or 10GbE fiber cables for the first gen thunderbolt- I don't know. But I suspect it has something to do with wanting their future combined data fiber/power copper cables and chipsets to be backwards compatible with today's cables.


RE: Cables
By TakinYourPoints on 4/10/2013 7:50:19 PM , Rating: 1
Another reason for it is that it enables forward compatibility. The conversion of electrical signals to optical is embedded in the cable itself, allowing for the current MDP connector to be forwards compatible when faster optical TB interconnects are made available, at least until purely optical transceivers make it over to motherboards.


RE: Cables
By HostileEffect on 4/10/2013 1:12:41 PM , Rating: 2
I wait until I'm ordering something from Newegg or the like, then I throw whatever cables I think I may need into the order and I know I'm getting the best price available.

USB 3.0 mini cables always seem to get stolen out here since they aren't sold in the local area but only cost me about $3 if I grab them online.


Awesome...
By retrospooty on 4/10/2013 11:00:51 AM , Rating: 2
Any company putting higher res anything into any product is good. I wont likely ever buy a Mac unless something dramatically changes in the PC landscape, but this is still a good thing. The more companies using super high res, the more the rest have to match and the cheaper they all get by the rules of volume manufacturing and competition.

+1




RE: Awesome...
By Boze on 4/10/2013 12:16:53 PM , Rating: 2
There's nothing that could change that would make me buy a Mac. I might go to tonymacx86's site and buy the approved parts and put Mac OS X on my newly-built PC, but unless Microsoft makes Windows 8.1 even worse than Windows 8, from a usability standpoint, I can't see myself ever switching to Apple anything.


RE: Awesome...
By ritualm on 4/10/2013 9:57:14 PM , Rating: 2
Buy a Mac, then run Windows in a virtual machine.

You can put up all of those supposed superstitions as an excuse why you wouldn't buy Macs, or you can recognize that a Mac is like a PC sold by a gaming boutique and the only difference is the software layer. Actually, the price premium on a Mac is far below that of the Clevo / MSI whitebooks branded by gaming boutiques.


RE: Awesome...
By hamiditized on 5/5/2013 10:29:57 AM , Rating: 2
Since the first PCs came out, I built my own, at least one a year, from the latest and greatest parts. I laughed at anyone who owned a Mac. Then in 2010 I got a job and was forced to use Macs. I'm a software engineer, and wow, I saw the light. Mac is Unix underneath. As a developer I prefer Unix to Windows by a HUGE margin. Technically it is a much better OS.
Since then I have not built a new PC, and my existing PC has been gathering dust.
Its not just the Unix thing, the user interface of the Mac is far superior to Windows in nearly every way. In small but important ways. For example, the right mouse button and the scroll wheel follow the mouse, while the left mouse button follows the focus. All the menus are ALWAYS in the same place, at the top of the screen, regardless of the application.
In addition, there are features such as the versioning filesystem, used with Time Machine (built into the OS) that let you see what your hard drive looked like in the past and retrieve old versions of files, even if they have been deleted. I can keep writing about the virtues of OS X, but then this is not the venue. Just take it from an ex avid PC/Windows user who used to build his own rig for over a decade, try a Mac and don't just get frustrated because it is not like a Windows PC. Its that way for a reason.


RE: Awesome...
By hamiditized on 5/5/2013 10:35:52 AM , Rating: 2
Wanted to also mention, building a Mac from parts will cost you more than buying one from Apple. I know because I tried. In the end the parts list came out to something around $800, meanwhile you can get a Mac mini with same specs for $600.
Also, you can dual boot a Mac into Windows/OS X, installing Windows on a Mac is fully supported by Apple.
You can also run WIndows programs, even the latest games, on VMs such as Parallels. They run at around 80% of native speed, which is quite impressive. If you need the extra 20% you can dual boot into Windows.


YAY!!
By BRB29 on 4/10/2013 10:50:51 AM , Rating: 2
4K streaming on netflix!!!




RE: YAY!!
By Salisme on 4/10/2013 11:51:42 AM , Rating: 2
ISP throttling is going to ruin your day.


RE: YAY!!
By Boze on 4/10/2013 12:14:00 PM , Rating: 2
The throttling won't be the problem. Having the raw sustainable connection will be the problem.

Aren't Netflix high-def streams already 9 mbps or so? Even with new compression algorithms, I don't think a 24 mbps stream would be unreasonable for 4K quality. Probably as much as 30 mbps.

Only a handful of providers in America can do that.

I'm using AT&T U-Verse and the best they can offer in my area is 18 mbps down / 2 mbps up.


RE: YAY!!
By Milliamp on 4/10/2013 1:57:23 PM , Rating: 2
You are right, dual layer blu ray doesn't even hold enough data to support 4k. Delivering 4k content to millions of people at the same time over thousands of miles of gear will not be easy to do.

There are only a few really expensive routers even on the market that support that kind of traffic.


Interesting but not really an innovation IMO.
By GotThumbs on 4/10/13, Rating: 0
RE: Interesting but not really an innovation IMO.
By jeffbui on 4/10/2013 2:12:37 PM , Rating: 2
Find another laptop with a 2800x1800 display today. Apple released theirs 9 months ago.


By inperfectdarkness on 4/10/2013 6:41:58 PM , Rating: 2
If one existed, I would already own it. The laptop manufacturing segment is about as full of fail as EA is with respect to gaming.


By ritualm on 4/10/2013 10:19:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The difference will be price. Apples brand name recognition sells at a very high premium

Apple's financial statements consistently disclosed that its smartphones and tablets moved more volume and higher profit margins than its traditional computers (iMacs, Mac Pros, Macbooks, etc.) did. In fact, the price premium on those shiny Macbooks is maybe $100 tops and the only way for Apple to make a killing there is SSD and RAM upgrades...

... which, not coincidentally, is what every other PC maker does with their offerings.

PCs are cheaper than Macs, at what cost exactly? The user experience from these cheaper PCs flat out sucks. Combining significantly better internal parts with fail-quality screens, keyboards and such, then selling it for several benjamins cheaper, is not innovation. I want everyone, not just ASUS and Samsung, to not solely focus on the dollar sign every time they go out and make things better and cheaper than Apple, is that too much to ask for?


By tdtran1025 on 4/11/2013 1:26:51 AM , Rating: 2
Apple has tricky marketing savvy. They will eventually stage 1 main 4K TV for living room and smaller sets (46", 37", 27") for other rooms, with smallest one being capable of serving as a multimedia monitor.




Evolution
By haukionkannel on 4/10/2013 2:45:07 PM , Rating: 1
Good! If Aple puts 4K to their machines next year, the andoid and google based devices will follow up in one year and PC machines will get those 4K displayes one year after that (in the most expensive eguipments...) So it will take only 4-5 years untill normal people can get 4K displays and even before that if they are going to android/google based devices ;-)

Seriously direction is good and Aple has had the tendency of being the first to offer "nest generation" displays in their products. So it is coming, slowly, but still coming...




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