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Apple's Cinderella Cinema Display: Will it ever be updated?

Posted on by Mike Evans

Lots of rumours about tomorrow's Apple event, mainly concerning the new iPad Air and the possibility of a retina-display 27in iMac. But there is one product that never seems to get the glass slipper treatment: Apple's ageing Thunderbolt Cinema Display. My 24in Cinema Display has done sterling work for over the past six years. I wanted to upgrade to the Thunderbolt version but have not done so because, for some unfathomable reason, it still supports only USB 2. And, I suppose, I was sort of living in hope of retinisation.

The old Cinema Display is now the Cinderalla of Apple's desktop lineup. Is it too much to hope for a retina display to keep company with the new 27in retina iMac?

The old Cinema Display is now the Cinderalla of Apple's desktop lineup. Is it too much to hope for a retina display to keep company with the new 27in retina iMac?

The arrival of the 27in retina screen on the iMac is a good indication that, at last, there will be a Cinema Display to match. If it comes it will certainly have USB 3 as well as Thunderbolt and will address all the complaints of the old model. Unfortunately, such a display has not featured in any of the rumours so, if it does come tomorrow, it will be a complete surprise. 

There is also the unwelcome possibility that Apple has decided to exit the display market, reasoning that other manufacturers can address this need. This would be a pity, if only from the point of view of harmony of matching desktop products.

iMac or Cinema Display

My current desktop array of 15in MacBook Pro Retina and the old Cinema Display is due for upgrade soon. I had not considered another iMac because I believe it relatively wasteful to buy an all-in-one device where the display, capable of serving for well over five years, is rapidly made obsolete by the built-in computing power. By choice I would prefer a retina display that would slog on for half a decade while keeping the more transient computing side discrete, either in the form of a Mac Mini or a laptop. But if there is no updated Cinema Display tomorrow I could be tempted back to the all-in-one solution, particularly now it is possible to use an old iMac as an external display for a more up-to-date processor. Looked at it from this point of view, the iMac could again be a sensible choice. 

As for my portable computers, the 15in MBP and 11in MacBook Air, I am tempted to replace both with a single 13in MacBook Pro retina. This choice will apply whether or not I decide to buy the retina iMac or continue with the old Cinema Display. The Air bugs me because it lacks an SD card slot, something I am using more and more while travelling. USB adapters can be unreliable and I was let down recently in Cologne while attending Photokina. The dongle just died on me and I had to go out in search of a replacement at a very critical time. Apart from anything else, the built-in card reader in the Pros are much faster.

So I shall be looking at tomorrow's announcements with a critical eye and working out how the new products can fit into my computing workflow. Fingers crossed for a new display.

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