Apple Eyes 4K Desktop Displays With Next Generation Thunderbolt
April 9, 2013 4:48 PM
4K could hit iMacs, Cinema Displays as early as 2014; could trickle down to MacBook Pros in 2015
With Google Inc.'s (
new "Pixel" Chromebooks
beating Apple, Inc.'s (
) 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
I. Apple Creeps Towards 4K With New Intel Thunderbolt Release
Intel Corp. (
) recently showed off a demo called "Thunderbolt Technology Update", which is basically a second-generation
. 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
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. (
) 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
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.
"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference
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