The old Cinema Display (left) had three USB ports on the back and required a cable with separate power, USB and Mini DisplayPort connections. The new Thunderbolt display (right) adds Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800 and Thunderbolt, all fed to a computer via a single Thunderbolt cable (in addition to three USB ports, built-in microphone and FaceTime HD camera).
We take it you’re still digesting the new hardware Apple has released this morning. Before you grab that credit card, here are some observations you may wanna take into consideration.
• Built-in FaceTime camera has not been upgraded to high-definition. As a result, you are not able to FaceTime in HD with people who use the latest iMacs or MacBook Pros, which sport a FaceTime HD camera
•Based on the description from Apple ”And because we place the flash chips directly on the logic board, they take up much less space — about 90 percent less, in fact.” , it sounds like the SSD is probably no longer upgradable via OWC and others (thanks commenter)
• Just as previous, RAM is soldered directly on the motherboard so configure your machine carefully because you won’t be able to upgrade RAM yourself later
• Just like with the previous generation, the 11.6-incher lacks an SD card slot found on the 13-inch model
• Last year’s models got a significant discount today
• New Airs sport Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility versus Bluetooth 3.0 in the previous generation, which gives you low-energy wireless Bluetooth transfer within a short range of up to 50 meters, per this Wikipedia article
• New MacBook Airs can use Firewire and Gig Ethernet! If you hook up your new MacBook Air to that latest Apple Thunderbolt Display, you will enjoy the ultimate simplicity because a single Thunderbolt cable is all you need to charge your notebook and transfer data from your monitor’s Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, an additional Thunderbolt port, three USB ports, a FaceTime HD camera, 2.1 stereo sound and a built-in microphone. Perhaps Apple will release a Thunderbolt to GigE, Firewire, etc. standalone adapter.
• On the Thunderbolt Displays, the old MagSafe would have been a better match, because the new one has to be bent around (see the image below) for MacBook Pros
• Additionally, On MacBook Airs, the Thunderbolt port and MagSafe are on opposite sides of the keyboard meaning that cable is going to Y-Out behind the computer.
The new Thunderbolt Display comes with a new MagSafe adapter, which has to be bent around the computer rather than going straight on, like the old MafSafe adapter could have
- Losing the Superdrive might be a dealbreaker from some mediacenters. You can always get a USB drive or hook up with a refurb which are now starting at $469
- At 1.4 inches thin, these are now 1U rack mountable for server installs. At 7.7 inches only 2 will fit side by side. Still better for Colos however.
- Non-server Minis get Discrete Graphics besides the much faster Sandy bridge. There was some concern that they would use Integrated Graphics like the 13-inch MacBook Pros and new Airs.
- With new Thunderbolt Port, you can now hook up a chain of displays and have an HDMI port left over nice for multi-monitor setups.
- Mini gets faster 1333 RAM, still user upgradable via bottom. Apple offers 4GB, after marketers will offer 8GB or more
- SSD is an optionOWC is offering a HDD, SSD combo!
We’ll be updating the post with more information as we discover it. If you spot bits and bops about the new MacBook Airs or Mac Minis worth sharing with other readers, tell us in comments.