micro-DisplayPort for 4K+ thinner phones and laptops in works for 2014

Laptops could be getting smaller and smartphones gaining easier external display connectivity with the news of a new, more compact micro-DisplayPort connection in the works. Expected by VESA to be finalized as a standard by Q2 2014, the smaller port will be backward-compatible with existing DisplayPort and mini-DisplayPort devices, but still offer beyond-4K Ultra HD connectivity for phones, tablets, and ultraportables.

VESA's handiwork won't solely be on the port itself. Instead, it will be figuring out the final design for the docking connector, receptacle, and cable as well.

The new standard is "designed to support data rates for future display bandwidths beyond today's 4K resolutions" VESA says, while another goal is to support passive cables up to 1.5m in length, without requiring any sort of repeater or other active component. That would be particularly important in smartphones and other portable devices.

What remains to be seen is how Apple and Intel will respond to the smaller connection. Currently, the Thunderbolt technology used on the Mac line-up – with a full six Thunderbolt 2 ports on the upcoming Mac Pro, for instance – relies on a mini-DisplayPort connector, which is also backward-compatible with traditional DisplayPort monitors.

However, a switch to micro-DisplayPort could allow Apple to trim the size of its notebooks even further, something the company has shown no small amount of interest in doing over the years. The MacBook Pro 13 with Retina display updated yesterday, for instance, is now just 3.46 pounds in weight and 0.71-inches thick.