Apple’s decision to equip the 12-inch MacBook with just a single port was a controversial one, but the USB-C port Apple chose just got a whole lot more powerful. Intel announced back in June that it was integrating USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 to create “one compact port that does it all” – and that port just hit the market in the form of the revamped Dell XPS range.
That means that a single port combines superspeed USB, Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, PCI Express and power. The DisplayPort channel can simultaneously handle two 4K monitors.
Dell has opted to include two of the new ports, and this is an approach I think we can expect Apple to take with the new MacBook Air models (whatever they are actually called) and, in time, the MacBook Pro …
Such a move would, of course, be a controversial one – especially among power users, who have a whole raft of peripherals using existing USB and Thunderbolt connectors. But there are two reasons to think Apple will do it anyway.
First, the 12-inch MacBook provides a strong pointer to the company’s thinking: it’s exceedingly unlikely it would reserve the latest and greatest port for just the baby in the MacBook line-up. Second, Apple has consistently demonstrated its willingness to abandon what it considers legacy technology. It was the first major player to abandon the floppy drive in favor of an optical one, and the first to drop the optical drive from laptops aimed at the pro market.
But it’s good news for those of us who use Thunderbolt. A couple of years ago, it was looking to me like Thunderbolt might itself be on the way out. It never achieved mass adoption beyond Apple products, and I did wonder whether Apple might itself decide to move on. Intel’s decision to integrate it into USB-C gives the standard an assured future – and with even higher speeds as a bonus.
While there will be some short-term pain for those of us with an array of peripherals, there are solutions available, even for those who need to connect multiple devices while mobile.