Apple, LG, Lenovo next with Thunderbolt displays


The next new kid on the block with a Thunderbolt display will be LG, followed swiftly by Lenovo. The monitors will integrate hubs and provide power to connected devices. Will they include webcams?

USB-C

USB-C can do a lot. Thunderbolt can do a lot more.

Thunderbolt rules

Thunderbolt is taking over, ruling the roost. Capable of replacing a bevy of ports, including USB-A, USB-B, Ethernet, HDMI, DisplayPort, mini DisplayPort, audio, data transfer, power cords, and short distance networking, Thunderbolt can do it all.

Integrated hubs

Monitors will become the hub of your desktop. As more and more people switch from bulky desktop PCs to laptops and tablets, avoiding cable clutter and keeping a tidy desk, why have a breakout box on your desk, when there's perfectly good real estate in the back of your monitor?

Monitors will become the hub: screen at the front, speakers at the bottom, ports at the back. Lookfor monitors to feature two Thunderbolt ports, at least two USB-A, one microphone port, one audio out port, one Ethernet port, and two or more USB-C ports. Good ones will include a UHSII-SD card slot and Qi.

Dell's recent USB-C monitor with hub was a hit, but it will soon be out-gunned by Thunderbolt monitors.

Always connected to power, monitors become the perfect place to plug in all your gadgets, with your phone and tablet able to recharge over a cable or a Qi wireless charger in the base, and your laptop recharging over Thunderbolt while it's connected to the monitor.

Some higher-end monitors will soon do away with USB-A entirely, relying solely on Thunderbolt and USB-C.

Look for Android phones and tablets to stick to USB-C, Apple products to stick with Lightning, and and plug in with USB-A or USB-C on the other end.

LG

LG has already shipped version 1, version 1.5, and version 2 of its Thunderbolt monitors, namely the LG UltraFine series of 21.5" and 27" monitors co-developed with Apple.

Apple's own Thunderbolt display has been continually delayed.

LG's much newer and more versatile Thunderbolt-powered Nano-Cell Displays went on-show at CES 2018, and are available soon.

We also expect LG to release a more wallet-friendly version of the Thunderbolt displays with integrated hubs and speakers, in 21.5", 24", and 27" sizes. Whether it is blessed with a webcam or not may come down to how much you're willing to spend on a do-it-all monitor.

Lenovo

Lenovo will build on the success of its ThinkPad and Think Series with new Thunderbolt-driven displays, compatible directly with new Lenovo desktops, laptops, tablets, and also compatible with the Thunderbolt GPU Dock.

We anticipate Lenovo will debut 24", 27", and 32" versions of its new Thunderbolt displays, with integrated docking and charging. Like LG, whether or not the Lenovo monitors include webcams may depend on product version and price.

Apple

Apple has long-held firm on the 21.5" and 27" sizes of its iMacs and stand-alone displays. Alongside the Mac Pro, due to debut later in 2018, Apple is expected to re-enter the monitor game with new Apple-branded displays, for the first time since, oh, 2009.

While many expect Apple to maintain the size gap between the 21.5" and 27" options, we hope Apple shake up the landscape:

  • replace the 21.5" size with a 24" display

  • keep the 27" size

  • add a high-end 30" or 32" display size

  • potentially integrate Apple TV functionality into the monitor.

We expect Apple's stand-alone displays to adopt the iMac aesthetic, with screen at the front, speakers at the bottom, webcam at the top, ports at the rear.

We very much expect that the Apple display will have a Facetime camera up front, along with embedded microphones.

Also expected is some on-board graphics processing power inside the monitor, with an AMD graphics card helping to drive the 4K or 5K display, taking some of the processing labour away from the connected computer.

Release dates

Look for LG and Lenovo to release their Thunderbolt displays in May/June 2018, and Apple's own displays from July 2018.

Until next time,

Xavier Zymantas

XYZtech

XYZ Media Group

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