Apple outs $1000 Thunderbolt Display

You may be forgiven for having missed it among all the brouhaha surrounding the release of OSX Lion yesterday, but Apple has quietly released a whopping 27-inch monitor costing an equally whopping $1000.

Those of you about to start carrying about how you can buy a 22-inch screen for thruppence and how Steve Jobs should be strung up by his dangly bits for daring to sell something more expensive than the cheapest and lowest common denominator can stop reading now, because this particular bit of kit is definitely not for you.

Rather, it's aimed at the type of person who buys a MacBook Air because it's thinner, lighter and more beautiful than any other laptop available, and doesn't give a stuff that you can't pull it apart with a teaspoon to replace its innards, or that it doesn't have this outdated port or that irrelevant drive.

It's no coincidence that all of the images Apple has offered up of the expensive beast which feature anything other than the Thunderbolt Display itself include the aforementioned MacBook Air.

Of course, you will get a little more than just a very tasty screen for your $1000 (or £900 in real money). It's the first display on the planet with Apple's Intel-inspired Thunderbolt technology built in, meaning you can hook a suitably-equipped Mac up to two giant monitors as well as up to five other high speed storage devices and other peripherals using a single cable. Actually you'll need a cable for each link in the daisy chain, but you know what we mean.

The display itself uses IPS technology to create a 178-degree viewing angle, it has a built-in FaceTime HD camera, the same MagSafe power supply used by Apple laptops - and which we reckon should be standard on any device which can be dragged off of a desk by oafishness - and a high-quality 2.1 speaker system.

Around the back you'll find three USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire 800 port, a gigabit Ethernet port and the Thunderbolt port from which it derives its name.

Thunderbolt, which was invented by Intel and originally called Light Peak in its optical incarnation, is Apple's copper-based rethink of the standard.

If you think of its as two DisplayPort connections and five PCIe cards all crammed into one port you're not far from the mark.

It's capable of squirting two channels of data at 10 gigabits per second in both directions simultaneously as well as driving two displays - including old school HDMI, DVI and VGA models with a suitable adaptor (available separately for about 40 quid a pop from Apple, of course).

As we've mentioned before, it won't be to everyone's taste. If, like us, half of the monitors you own were lifted from skips and repaired using gaffer tape and cannibalised components, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.

If, however, you have deep pockets, wouldn't blink at the prospect of paying a day's salary on a haircut, and already own a MacBook Air, this is definitely the monitor for you. You might even want two.

Unfortunately, you'll have to wait for at least 60 days to get your hands on one, because that's how long Apple is currently quoting for delivery