Around six years ago I bought one of Apple’s expensive but excellent 27in Cinema Displays, the model before the latest Thunderbolt-equipped design. At the time I was using a MacBook Pro as my main desktop and travel computer, so the large screen that could be hooked up easily was a sensible choice. It had sufficient ports to act as a hub for the portable computer.
I would have bought the second-generation version with Thunderbolt but, for some odd reason, Apple saw fit to stick with USB-2 ports when everyone had by that time moved on to the much faster USB-3. It was a great mystery to me that a company such as Apple couldn’t just rustle up a new version with the faster USB ports. It shouldn’t have been a great deal.
Months passed and, right up to yesterday, there was no news on the expected upgrade to the Cinema Display. I have been keeping an eye on things because the old monitor eventually gave up the ghost—something to do with the power supply, I suspect—and it wasn’t worth repairing.
Now Apple has told us that the Cinema Display is being discontinued and we are now advised to choose one of the “many excellent third-party options available for Mac users”.
This is most unlike Apple. Satisfying a demand for an external display should be a no brainer for Cupertino. Yet they’ve given up on the market.
There are hints that there could be an all-singing-and-dancing 5K display in the distant future, perhaps offering USB-C in addition to Thunderbolt and all the latest standards. But the mystery is why Apple has discontinued the old display prematurely. Once they lose the market, and people discover that cheaper third-party displays can work as well, they may never win back those customers. At £899 the old Cinema Display, which is still available but is being run down, was always an expensive option. But it was an Apple and it looked good on the desk.
A few months ago AppleInsider did an informative review of such options, including offerings from Dell, LG, Asus and Sharp. Some of the top-line offerings are even more expensive than Apple’s model, but there are also cheaper options. The Dell 27in Ultra HD monitor, for instance, now retails for £649 here in the UK. It offers a 5120×2280 resolution, better than the 2560×1440 of the outgoing Thunderbolt Display and, while it doesn’t offer quite the same Jony Ive design, it is almost as pretty. There are is also a number alternatives in the £260-£450 range, so plenty to choose from.
Many existing owners will have been waiting to upgrade to a new Cinema Display. Now they can get on with choosing an alternative. It’s worth reading some reviews and deciding just what you need. Some of the cheaper models lack ports and other options that you might be used to.