[Update 23 October 2014]
We know now why Apple continues to sell a non-Retina display as their sole separate monitor. With the introduction of the 5K iMac with Retina, their next step would be to introduce a corresponding 5120x2880 @60Hz Retina Thunderbolt Display. Unfortunately, they don't make a computer with a connector capable of driving such a display. Mini DisplayPort 1.3 just came out which will support 5K at 60Hz so presumably there will be future version of Thunderbolt that could drive a Retina Thunderbolt Display, but as of now there isn't. I had been assuming that Apple would either release a 4K 27 inch monitor which would have scaling issues, or a smaller 4K monitor which wouldn't. But it looks like they are going for the whole enchilada, and waiting for all the technologies to be in place to properly replace this monitor. In the meantime, I will content myself with this beautiful display.
[Updated 30 August, 2014]
Well, this is strange. My monitor stopped working after three years. I took it to the local Apple Store for service. After originally calling to tell me that the monitor needed a new panel (which would have been as much as the monitor is worth), and my telling them to just scrap the monitor, the store called to tell me that since they had the parts in stock anyway, they had just tried replacing the motherboard, and that had apparently fixed the problem. So, for $185, I got my monitor back. Weird. Also, here's a hint, if your monitor starts acting strange, try connecting to it with a separate Thunderbolt cable, via the display's Thunderbolt port; you might have a bad integrated cable.
[Revised on 15 July, 2014]
This is a great monitor and I've enjoyed using it for nearly 3 years. I have to think, however, that newer technologies are making this monitor obsolete. In particular, the release of the 4K monitor loving Mac Pro, as well as the lack of USB 3 ports are making this monitor seem like it needs a model refresh. I am still very happy to have chosen to spend the money and gotten so many pleasant hours since. Still, I'm not sure it would be as good an idea to buy one today. And, I'd definitely compare the price found here on Amazon with the price buying directly from Apple.
I needed a large monitor because it became harder and harder to do my job--iOS programming--on my 13 inch MacBook Pro screen. Recent versions of Apple's Xcode are screen hungry, and I drifted into doing most of my development at my desk using an external monitor. This is a shame, but while I can't control Xcode's interface, I can try to make my working life pleasant. I want to make life at my desk enjoyable so I'll spend time there working and not finding ways to waste time. Thus, I was willing to spend for marginal improvements.
I carry a 13 inch MacBook Pro, and the rest of the family shares a 2012 MacBook Air. Both devices have Thunderbolt ports, so attaching our laptops to the display involves inserting two cables: the Magsafe power cable and the Thunderbolt cable. The MacBook Pro has the advantage of having both ports on the left side, the Air has one on either side. I'm much more likely to use my desk environment if I'm not pulling off USB and Firewire cables, and pinching Ethernet cables in addition to power and display. In particular, the Air, which has limited ports, becomes something akin to a "real" computer when attached to this display--it is sweet having a real Ethernet port automatically connect especially when using the display for streaming video. There are Third Party Thunderbolt docking solutions, but having the hub integrated into the monitor is preferable. The Thunderbolt Display is not as compelling for users of desktop Macs, as they will already have ports and will not need to be unhooked frequently. Also this is an IPS display, the same technology used in the iPad to allow viewing over a wide range of angles, other display technology will lose their color saturation when not looking at dead straight into the monitor. It's gorgeous. Gorgeous but tends to have a lot of glare, so I carefully angle it away from room lights.
My MacBook Pro has plenty of ports, so the Thunderbolt Display is more of a convenience but the MacBook Air needs ports to function effectively as a desktop replacement. If I'm going to attach external hard drives, I'm not going to use USB 2.0 when I have Firewire 800 available. Which brings up an oddity. The USB ports on the Thunderbolt display are USB 2.0, which makes them born obsolete. I understand that neither Intel (inventor of Thunderbolt) nor Apple cares for USB 3.0, but it seems as though there would be adequate bandwidth to provide at least one, even if it would be very non-Apple-like to have different flavors of USB on the same computer.
Once attached, the Air becomes a competitive desktop, with its i7 (or i5) processor and speedy SSD paired with a huge display and adequate port selection. It's missing only a decent GPU, which brings up another missed opportunity. Some other manufacturers (e.g. Sony) have provided an external GPU inside their docking box. One could imagine a future Thunderbolt display with an integrated GPU that would transform future MacBook Airs into nearly full desktops, but that is a possibility not the now.
Important tip: if you are having trouble with the display re-awakening from sleep (requiring you to plug and unplug it) try opening up the Display preference pane and unchecking "Automatically adjust brightness" on all your monitors including the integrated monitor on your laptop. Until I found this workaround, I was pretty unhappy.
When docked, I avoid both my laptop's keyboard and trackpad. So an external keyboard is needed. I am not a fan of Apple's current line of keyboards. They are stylish and beautiful, but if I'm going to spend the money, I might as well get a typer's keyboard with mechanical keys however ugly it might be, and a preferred pointing device, which in my case is the Apple Magic Trackpad.
Sound is OK, Apple is claiming there's a subwoofer in there, but I'm in no danger of the neighbors complaining. I wish Apple had provided an optical (TOSLink) out port so as to enjoy movies fully. Presumably I can add one via USB although it might be hard to find such a device with Mac support as most Macs (not the Air) have TOSLink ports built in. I have a decent desktop surround system--the Logitech Z906--and it can do what speakers inside a monitor cannot do. Having said that, I had an opportunity to compare the sound quality to a dedicated USB sound bar and much to my surprise my ears tell me that the Thunderbolt has both better low frequency and high frequency clarity.
The included HD FaceTime camera is very good for a webcam. Far superior to the low resolution camera in my wife's 11-inch MacBook Air, and comparable, and probably a bit better color balanced than the high definition camera in my MacBook Pro. Don't expect miracles so be well lit. The included microphone is OK, not something you'd record your podcast on but fine for the occasional Skype or FaceTime call. For anything serious, I would use a USB microphone like Blue Microphones Snowball, which I've used on the few occasions I've been a guest on a podcast.
This is not a flexible device. Other monitors will have DVI, HDMI, Mini-Display, and VGA ports. Not this. This is a monitor for use with Thunderbolt enabled computers like the current MacBooks, MacBook Pros, iMacs, Mac Mini's and the new, tiny, Mac Pro. And while the monitor preference panel allows you to rotate the display, you'll need some extra hardware to actually use it as a very tall portrait monitor. And good luck even raising or lowering it. Be warned, you cannot daisy chain two of these with the MacBook Air, its video circuitry is limited to supporting one. Actually paying for two to prove this is an exercise for the reader. Daisy chaining is supported for MacBook Pros, or so I read.
All 27 inch displays are not made alike. When I first bought this display, the most popular 27" display was the ViewSonic VA2702W which billed itself as a full HD 1920x1080 (2.0 Megapixels, 82 pixels per inch display, at less than a third the price of this Thunderbolt display. 1080p is fine and even excessive on a TV you'd be watching video on from 10 feet away, but in terms of using as a computer monitor from two feet away where you spend the day reading 9 point text, 2560 x 1440 (3.7 Megapixels, 109 ppi) like this display makes a whole lot more sense. Coincidentally, I was sent for review an HP 2711x which is a 27 inch 1080p monitor, and while decent enough for what it is, I would not want to use it as my primary work monitor, text is blocky and web pages and source listings show less readable content, and off-angle viewing is unattractive. The cheaper monitor is basically just a TV, except without a remote and an inferior scalar--although it's possible people with vision impairments might prefer the larger screen elements. I do not recommend going that cheap.
There are a many competing 27 inch 2560 x 1440 monitors now sold here on Amazon. I had an opportunity to evaluate the ViewSonic VP2772 and while having a beautiful panel it is a pain to deal with on a Mac: hard to access ports, inaccessible brightness control, no speakers, needing a Thunderbolt dock to replicate my needed ports, plastic and sheet metal. For a Mac user, the Thunderbolt display will be easier and more functional. Still, the market has pushed competing displays down in price, while the Thunderbolt Display has remained at or above its initial price. To the point where it might be practical to buy a Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock which includes USB 3 ports, and just choose a competing, cheaper monitor. I have a Belkin dock in the house, and it works OK albeit a bit less reliably and more awkwardly than having everything integrated into my display, and without added features such as a camera, microphone, speakers and subwoofer. If you value simplicity and reliability, this monitor may well be worth a premium.
So while we await DisplayPort 1.3 capable Macs, and the mythical 5K Thunderbolt Display, I'll be enjoying my very nice, but soon to be very obsolete monitor.
on September 22, 2011
I pre-ordered this monitor when it was first announced. I've now had it for over two years and use it every day. A few comments:
o The quality of the display itself is simply *perfect*. It's sharp, bright, and super-responsive. The colors only shift very slightly when the screen is tilted.
o The real estate here is *massive*. It's a world of difference from my 24" low-end Acer display. Keep in mind that when you're running it at the highest resolution (which most people will!), your menu bar and other parts of the OS X system will look a fair bit smaller than they do on other displays. Those parts of OS X are a fixed pixel size... so smaller pixels means they'll be smaller on the screen, and there's no simple way to enlarge them.
o Using it with Aperture / Lightroom in full-screen mode: it's only now that I really see how sharp photos out of my camera are. There's more pixels than I had before, and the pixels are sharper, and both of these help to make photos look amazing.
o I used my Huey Pro to calibrate it out of the box. The before and after calibration profiles are virtually identical -- that is, colors are perfect, with no adjustment needed.
o The display has a Thunderbolt port on the back. You can use this to daisychain additional Thunderbolt displays, if you have an extra $1K to spend. But you can *not* plug a regular DVI monitor into this port, even with a DVI-to-Thunderbolt adapter. The second screen is dark. The manual confirms that this doesn't work.
o The power, USB hub, speakers, camera, etc. just work so easily to dock my laptop too. It's all automatic and easy, and *everything* except for power goes through the Thunderbolt cable. So nice! (Kind of weird though that the power cable comes out at 90 degrees, while the Thunderbolt cable comes straight out.)
o The speakers sound very full... in fact, a little bit *too* much bass and a bit tubby. Could be because I'm used to listening to everything through my laptop's tinny speakers.
o One moderately annoying thing: when the computer is not outputting any audio, the monitor's audio circuit is entirely off. But when it needs to play any sound (new mail chime, etc.), you can hear the audio amplifiers turn on (click), play the sound, and then there's about 15 seconds of very quiet static / white noise before the amplifiers turn off (click) and go back to silence. This is exactly how the Mac's internal speakers work, and perhaps all computer speaker systems. The noise is not very loud at all. But in a quiet house, I notice it. If it was there all the time, it'd be less annoying than how it pulses on and off, like it does now. Turning the volume down doesn't make any difference.
o There's a very, very faint buzzing sound that comes from the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Sounds like a transformer. It's not audible if my laptop's fan is running. It is goes away if the brightness is turned down below 50% or so. It's very faint -- I only hear it if it's totally quiet. Much quieter than the amplifier noise above. Also, apparently there is a fan inside, but I've never once heard it.
o The glare from the glass front panel is fairly annoying. The glare is actually worse on the black bezel than the main display: reflections against a black background are a lot easier to see than against the white. On the screen itself, especially on light-colored app windows, the glare's not bad. (My office has indirect light from the outside right behind me.)
Still, I soon removed the glass panel and bezel from the display entirely. This improves the glare situation *immensely*. The large piece of glass is held on to the front by strong magnets, but you can remove it by carefully putting a couple of fingernails under the edge, and pulling it off toward the front. Or use suction cups (google around for info). No adhesive, no screws -- just magnets, and it'll come off easily. This will then expose the actual LCD panel itself. The panel is still quite reflective (it has a glossy finish), but then there's just one layer of glass to reflect, rather than two, so you get half the glare or less, plus no multiple-reflections. It also gets rid of *all* of the reflections from the bezel of course -- which were more annoying to me than on the display itself. There are then some magnets and screws and other hardware exposed, but so be it. I've seen others who have custom-fit a matte bezel to cover the innards up again. With the inner panel exposed you need to be careful about not dinging it accidentally.
But seriously Apple, please offer this in a non-glare version! The matte screen on my MacBook Pro is great to read all day, so I know you know how to do it!
p.s. A thousand bucks for a monitor? Seems like a lot, but I figure I'll get at least five years out of this, which is less than a buck a day.
** Update: My original version of this review was written after having it for two days. After two months of using it, it's still fabulous. The glare is less annoying than it was at first. The audio amplifiers clicking on and off are more annoying than I thought they'd be, so I usually send audio to my laptop instead of the Thunderbolt display. The huge size and beautiful color remain fantastic.
** Update: After 18 months, still loving it. I should mention that I've also recently purchased a 27" iMac. Apple has redesigned how the LCD and glass integrate in the iMac -- the glass looks to be laminated right onto the LCD surface. It is definitely superior to how this Thunderbolt display is made. The new iMac -- with the glass -- has less glare than the Thunderbolt display with the glass removed. Also, Apple seems to have improved their noise gate circuit -- the iMac monitor does not exhibit the same behavior with the audio clicking on and off.
Minor gripe: I wish this worked with the 'Mini DisplayPort' as well as the Thunderbolt interface. They are both Apple protocols and both use the same connector. Older MacBooks use the former, while the new ones use the latter. I have two laptops -- one old, one new -- and this monitor will only work with one of them.
My reason for purchasing this display was the image quality which is definitely worth every one of the 5 stars I'm rating it.
Like all Apple products the Thunderbolt display is exceptionally well built and designed, offering the same display components as the beautiful 27" iMac. There was absolutely zero configuration required beyond adjusting the brightness to my liking using the Mac OS X control panel. Once I plugged Thunderbolt cable into my Mac everything sprang to life, including all of the ports on the back. My Mac works great with the lid closed and it fits nicely underneath the display. It will turn itself on as soon as the cable connects. The display also includes a power cable for Macbooks.
The Thunderbolt Display is not for everyone, however. Here are a few cautions you should know about prior to purchasing:
1. Most important: **This display is only for very recent Macs that are equipped with a thunderbolt connection** If you don't have a thunderbolt port on your Mac it will not work! Note that the connector looks identical to the mini-display port that can be found on most modern Macs, so it's very important that you confirm first that your machine does indeed have a Thunderbolt connection. It will not work with anything else, including PCs.
2. The display is very, very glossy and will give off a ton of glare if any light is within line of sight to the display. It looks and operates beautifully in my home office but your mileage may vary significantly.
3. Despite Apple's claims of exceptional audio quality, the onboard speakers are not much better than the cheap pair that came with your Dell 15 years ago. Don't buy it for the audio quality.
I'm happy to answer questions in the comments!
on June 25, 2014
There's nothing like having 27" of screen real estate! And the Apple display certainly looks good, in terms of both image quality and appearance. Unfortunately, the thing crapped out after 14 months -- two months past the one year warranty period. A set of pixels died, creating a vertical 3" blue band in the middle of the screen. Now I'm having big-time buyer's remorse. Shouldn't a $1000 monitor last more than 14 months? Sorry, Apple, I'm going elsewhere for a replacement.
on June 21, 2013
If this were a $600 monitor I would say it's great. The picture is great. But, it's almost $1,000 and for that much it should have no short comings whatsoever. Unfortunately, it has a few.
First, the glare is quite bad. I used this in a second bedroom with the blinds closed completely. Only soft filtered light coming through and the window was on the same wall as the display so the light was not coming directly towards it. Still, you end up spending a lot of time seeing your own face in the display whenever the page you're looking at isn't pure white.
Second, even though the monitor is quite thick by today's standards, the sound coming out of it absolutely sucks. Honestly, the sound coming out of the iphone is better. There's plenty of room in this thing so it should have great sound, but it doesn't even have OK sound. Very disappointing.
Third, the size. It's about an inch thick and quite heavy. That's partially because it's aluminum but when you consider the displays on the new iMac's - which have a computer inside - it doesn't make sense why this is so large. Now sure, this is a previous generation to the iMac's but even then...it's about the size of those while they had a computer in them. This thing should be much, much thinner.
It's kind of sad because I like the quality of Apple products and want to find an Apple monitor that I like. But after having this one for a while I just feel you don't get your money's worth. I understand the "Apple premium" for some of their items. The iPhone is cutting edge design and function. Same with the iPads. But this is a monitor...that's all it is. There's no need for a $400 premium here.
on August 19, 2014
LED unit broke down after 2 years of moderate use. Was told by the Genius Bar that is would cost over $800 to fix. No discount or buyback offered. I guess Apple thinks it's reasonable that a $1000 monitor should only last 2 years.
on May 18, 2013
I purchased this last week, and I must say I'm quite impressed. I am replacing a 2011 21.5" iMac with a combination of the 27" Thunderbolt display and my 2012 15" Retina display Macbook Pro. I can't quite give it a 5 star rating because of 2 reasons -- I knocked off 1/2 star for lack of USB 3.0 support, and the 1/2 a star for the glossy screen.
Yes, it's a little glossy, but no glossier than my 2011 iMac which it replaced. The glare is not really a major problem for me -- BUT, it does knock off about half of a star because of it. Sometime soon, hopefully, when the supply of the 27" iMac displays meets the demand, Apple will most likely upgrade the Thunderbolt display with a display similar to that of the new iMac which is claimed to reduce glare by up to 75%. If the glossy display is a problem for you, I would not recommend that you purchase this display and wait for an updated model.
No USB 3.0 support isn't really a big deal for me, because if I don't really transfer large amounts of data through USB anymore. That's what thunderbolt is for. But, If the display did have USB 3.0 support, it would be a really great feature.
The other thing people complain about with this display is lack of a power switch. As for me, I actually LOVE that it does not have a power switch. The thing I hated about my iMac the most is that I had to reach behind the unit to power it on. With this, I simply leave it plugged in. When I want to use the display, I connect the mag-safe cable and thunderbolt cable to my retina Macbook, and it automatically turns on.
The mag-safe connector on the TB display is the old Mag-safe 1.0 style connector. However, Apple was nice enough to provide the magsafe 2.0 connector. So, I can use this display with both my 2011 Macbook Air and my 2012 Retina Macbook Pro.
Also worth noting is that the mag-safe and thunderbolt cable connectors extend from a single non-removeable cable on the back of the display. The cable splits in 2 about 12" from the end of the cable. This is a nice feature, because it keeps the cabling neat, but still allows me to connect the power and thunderbolt cables to my 2011 Macbook Air, which has the Mag-safe Cable Port and Thunderbolt ports on opposite sides of the computer.
Keep in mind that when connecting a Mac with lower resolution (like my 11" Macbook Air, the resolution of the display will only match the resolution of the laptop. So, you only get to take advantage of the 2560 * 1440 display if you are connecting a computer capable of displaying 2560 * 1440.
As far as daisy chaining thunderbolt devices, I have successfully daisy chained 4 Thunderbolt devices, (all I have) from the computer, and was able to access All of the devices at the same time. This is my setup:
Retina Macbook -- TB Display -- Drobo Mini -- Drobo 5D -- Seagate GoFlex 3.5" Thunderbolt adapter with 2 TB Hard Drive -- Seagate 2.5" GoFlex Thunderbolt adapter with 128 GB SSD.
The interesting thing I found about this setup is that the last device in the chain was not running from an AC adapter like the others. It was running from the power coming through the thunderbolt cable.
As with most external displays in OS X, the display can be used as a second screen and it's arrangement can be to the left, right, top or bottom of the display depending on the user's personal setup; or it can be used as a mirrored display. The display operates both with the laptop open or closed. The computer can be put to sleep and woken up while in the laptop is in the closed position. The computer can be powered off by while the computer is closed, but can only be powered on by opening the laptop and pressing the power button. When used as a second screen, keep in mind that 10.7 and 10.8 cause the second screen to go blank as soon as the first screen opens in full screen mode. This is a flaw in the operating system, not the display.
All in all, An excellent display. Yes, it's expensive, and no, it's not perfect, but the bottom line is I feel it's money well spent.
on June 5, 2013
------- ORIGINAL REVIEW -------
I bought the Thunderbolt Display with a new, "retina" MacBook Pro. The display comes with a magnetic adapter for the power plug so it will charge the MacBook Pro while it is plugged in to the display. In fact, the display works wonderfully as a docking station.
The sound of the built in speakers is okay. It is much better than the speakers on the MacBook Pro, but no where near as good as the external speakers you can buy for your computer. What is weird is the sound seems louder BEHIND the monitor than on the front side of it.
The display will work with the MBP when the lid of the laptop is closed which is another nice touch by Apple.
------- UPDATE: 14 Aug 13 -------
I've downgraded my original opinion of this display from 5 starts to 4.
When it comes to the visual function of this display, I still think it is an excellent display.
However, when it comes to the docking station functions of this display, it has been a bit disappointing.
1. USB BLACKOUTS
From time to time (probably once every 2 weeks) the USB ports just suddenly lose all power for no reason. This is annoying, but if you happen to be in the middle of writing a file to an external USB 3.0 hard drive, it's scary as well.
2. TINNY SOUND
The sound is is borderline acceptable at low volumes, and intolerable at higher volumes so I went ahead and got nicer speakers for it which leads me to...
3. NO AUDIO PORTS
There are no audio-out ports on the display which means you have to plug nicer speakers directly into your laptop, which kind of defeats the purpose of a docking station type display.
4. INADEQUATE USB PORTS
There are 3 USB ports on the back of the display, which isn't enough for the real world.
USB 1: My USB 3.0 hard drive for time capsule backups.
USB 2: My Apple USB external DVD "superdrive" (because Apple decided I don't need one built into my computer anymore).
USB 3: Powered USB 3.0 hub, because Apple decided I don't need a full-sized blue tooth keyboard, and I need to plug in my Apogee still -- as well as my iPad and other devices occasionally.
I spend a lot of hours a day staring at this display so I'm glad it does the display part of its function well...
But as for the docking station part of this product, it's disappointing to pay this much only to have to pay even more to get decent audio and enough USB ports.
Consequently, while I still love this display and recommend it, I really can't call it a 5-star purchase anymore -- especially when I have to unplug the Thunderbolt cable from the laptop from time to time so my keyboard and other USB devices will work again.
Again, I still recommend this, I just want others to be aware of these flaws before they buy.
--- UPDATE: 04 Feb 2014 ---
I have to downgrade my review from 4 stars to 2. I cannot recommend this display to anyone -- especially at this price.
As you can see above, I originally gave this display 5 stars, then eventually downgraded it to 4 stars for the reasons stated above.
Now that I've had it awhile though, I'm having problems. As a display, the picture is still crisp and clear. It's the other things the display is supposed to do that are letting me down.
*** For no reason the power cord coming from this display to my MacBook Pro has ceased charging my MacBook Pro. ***
The screen icon shows that the laptop is plugged in to a power source, yet the laptop does not charge. I have wiggled, jiggled, plugged, unplugged, tinkered, tweaked... it's just decided it is not going to charge my laptop anymore.
Interestingly, my laptop is getting some power. For example, if I plug in my Macbook Pro with 52% power it will either stay at 52% or go down to 51% after a few hours -- there is just not enough power to charge the battery again.
Consequently, I have been forced to plug my Macbook Pro into a different power cord.
I feel ripped off.
I bought this display because of the Apple brand, assuming that meant compatibility and quality. I now see Apple's brand no longer means quality.
I bought it because it was a docking station of sorts for my Macbook Pro and I need the port expansion. However, although my MacBook Pro (which I bought in the same order as the display) has USB 3.0 ports, the Display only has USB 2.0 ports, not not enough of them.
I bought it because the display has two Thunderbolt ports, but I can't chain a second display from them, which makes me wonder: why have 2?
And of course I bought it so it would charge my laptop while it is plugged in to the display -- which it no longer does.
I paid FAR too much for what I am getting and from now on will be much more wary of Apple in the future.
People who are fond of parroting the phrase, "You get what you pay for," need to stop spreading that myth.
on November 17, 2011
I've had it for about a week now. Every time it's *not* connected to my Macbook Air, its fan kicks in and and it's quite noticeably loud. It stays on until I reconnect. I have tried leaving the fan running thinking it needs to cool down or to reinitialize but it stays on for many hours until I reconnect it. Turning the power off is the only way to make the fan noise go away. I tried updating it with the latest firmware but that did not help. I called Apple Care and after waiting 20 minutes on hold, they told me that they can't do anything and that I should return it.
Apple's quality assurance has failed me for the first time. All they had to was, power it up, check the fan noise and fail it. Something you'd expect out of a $1k monitor.
UPDATE Dec 13 2011
The display just died on me this morning. Shipping it back to Amazon for a refund. Just had a quiet death where it's not responding to the thunderbolt connection from my Macbook. Just a blank screen. Since I do love the display despite the unfortunate luck of getting a defective item, I'm going to order another one.
UPDATE Dec 21 2011
Got a new unit from Amazon. Used for about a day and It does not have the problem I experienced with the previous unit. There's also a new firmware update from Apple which was posted on Dec 12 to resolve the issue I had. Bumping up a star.
UPDATE June 26 2013
It's been more than 1 1/2 years since I got the replacement display and I haven't had a single issue since then. Nada. Bumping up all the way to 5 stars.
on February 2, 2015
The Apple Thunderbolt Display may be starting to show its age after several years on the market but it remains a gorgeous display with a number of useful features that help justify its extremely high price point. More than a simple monitor, the Thunderbolt display acts as a central hub for your computer that brings every peripheral you might need: a camera, USB ports, audio, and even a power connector for an Apple notebook.
While your local Apple store will gleefully display the Thunderbolt monitor connected to any non-iMac computer, it's real use seems to be as a hub for an Apple notebook. The additional selection of ports and the bundled power connector (meaning you can leave your charger in your travel bag) means the display acts as an excellent hub for any Macbook. Connected to my Mac Mini, I felt that I was not taking complete advantage of what the Thunderbolt display had to offer. Particularly since my Mini doesn't quite have the muscle to take advantage of all that screen real estate!
Not everything is wonderful though. I've had my share of glitches with the monitor, particularly with its refusal to recognize audio output on my Mac partition (strangely it plays perfectly with my Windows partition!). I do not consider this a major issue as I already had a quality speaker system prior to purchasing the monitor. Still, considering that Apple attempts to market itself as a premium reseller (and their prices reflect it) I would expect things to work a bit better out of the box without me having to hit Google to figure out what is going on.
The reflective coating on the monitor takes fingerprints easy and doesn't handle reflections well (which can be...annoying...it late afternoon in my home) but given appropriate viewing conditions the display is absolutely gorgeous. Still, considering the $999 price tag, it is worth mentioning that the Apple Thunderbolt Display is by no means the best show in town anymore. While Apple aficionados will continue to appreciate the display, non Mac users would be wise to shop around for competing products. Mac users who are looking to outfit their Macbook with an excellent (albeit pricey) docking solution would be well advised to consider the Thunderbolt Display. Other Mac owners may wish to purchase the display for Apple design aesthetic. Windows users and more frugal Mac owners will probably want to move on from the Thunderbolt display.
Bottom line: Quality product but by no means the best product (particularly for its price point) on the market.