Tech To Watch 2012: Thunderbolt Takes Off

Thunderbolt

USB 3.0 is so 2011. During the last year, Intel partnered with Apple to develop Thunderbolt for high-speed data and video transfers. The new technology offers nearly 20 times the speeds of USB 2.0, but the benefits don’t stop there.

Essentially a combination of Mini DisplayPort and PCI Express, Thunderbolt can transfer data at a blistering 10 Gbps and port high-definition video simultaneously over the same cable. USB 3.0, found in today’s PCs, only supports 5 Gbps data transmissions.

Thunderbolt technology premiered in the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros. The first peripherals to work with this new port, such as the Promise Pegasus storage line (starting at $1,149), appeared shortly afterward. But more products are on the way. The technology will reportedly make its way to Windows PCs by April.

Why It’s Important

Sony was first to implement a variation on Thunderbolt technology with the VAIO Z. The ultraportable connected to a Power Media Dock with discrete GPU and Blu-ray burner. Acer and ASUS have committed to releasing Windows PCs with a bona fide Thunderbolt port in 2012.

Meanwhile, LaCie’s Little Big Disk (starting at $549), and the Black Magic Ultra Studio 3D video capture and playback box ($995) have hit the stage. Western Digital will release Thunderbolt storage products in mid-January. Belkin’s upcoming Thunderbolt Express Dock will feature three USB ports, Firewire, Gigabit Ethernet, and a Thunderbolt port. For its part, Intel sees increasing interest in Thunderbolt-connected external graphics cards.

How It Will Change Your Life

According to Intel, Thunderbolt lets users to transfer full-length HD movies in less than 30 seconds. A user could also back up a year’s worth of MP3s in a little more than 10 minutes. The emerging technology will enable a person to run a display with a resolution higher than 1080p while simultaneously pumping out eight audio channels. Plus, Thunderbolt will enable consumers to connect up to six devices via a process called daisy-chaining.

Outlook

Outfitting a device with Thunderbolt can be a pricey choice for a notebook maker, an expense that is ultimately passed on to the consumer. But according to Intel’s Jason Ziller, director of planning and marketing for Thunderbolt, it’s just a matter of time before prices come down. “Some OEMs may not offer Thunderbolt at [the sub-$500] price initially,” he admitted, “but eventually Thunderbolt will be available at just about every price point.”

Thunderbolt will also have to contend with USB’s strong lead and brand recognition with consumers. But Intel sees the technologies complementing one another, recommending to OEMs that new notebooks support both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports.

LEAVE A REPLY
Name*
Email* (will not be published)
Website
*Indicates required field
Comments*
Submit Comments

FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE