Mobile Cellphone Info has posted a new item, 'Review: Belkin's Thunderbolt
Express Dock lets you get plugged in easily'
As a MacBook Pro user, I can attest to the hassle of plugging and unplugging
keyboards, headphones, ethernet cables, and external hard drives every time I
arrive at and leave the office. The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock should make
things a bit easier: With just a single Thunderbolt cable (not included,
unfortunately), this dock allows you to connect a deskful of peripherals to a
At its list price of $300, the Thunderbolt Express Dock isnt cheap, but you do
get lots of ports. The second of the two Thunderbolt ports gives you the ability
to add up to five more Thunderbolt devices to the dock by daisy-chaining them
together. This Belkin dock also has three USB 3.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port,
a gigabit ethernet port, and audio-in and -out ports.
Mike HomnickA Thunderbolt Express Dock with all of its ports in use.
I was able to connect gigabit ethernet, a FireWire 800 drive, a USB thumb drive,
and a pair of headphones to the dock, all at the same time. As for Thunderbolt
devices, I connected a LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series hard drive to an
Apple LED Cinema Display, using a Mini DisplayPort connector attached to the
drives second Thunderbolt port.
When I connected a Thunderbolt cable from a MacBook Air to the Thunderbolt
Express Dock, all the drives mounted on the desktop automatically, the keyboard
and mouse were recognized, the Cinema Display turned on with the proper
resolution, and I was able to connect to the network through the gigabit
ethernet connection. When its quitting time, you unmount the drives, disconnect
the single Thunderbolt cable that connects the dock to the Mac (and the power
cable), and youre ready to hit the road.
I was also able to connect a Dell DVI display to the Thunderbolt Express Dock,
using Apples Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter and plugging the adapter
into one of the docks Thunderbolt ports.
I ran AJAs System Test on the Little Big Disk when it was connected directly to
the MacBook, and then again with all of the above connected to see if the dock
and all of the other peripherals would affect transfer speeds, but the results
were the same in both scenarios.
Weve reviewed a similar dock, the Matrox DS1 Thunderbolt docking station, but
the Belkin product is superior, at least in convenience. The Matrox lacks a
second Thunderbolt port, so if you use it on a Mac with only one Thunderbolt
port, the dock takes the only port you have. You could buy a drive or something
else with two Thunderbolt ports and put the dock at the end of your chain, but
the end of a chain seems an inconvenient place for a docking station to sit. The
DS1 has only one USB 3.0 port while the Belkin dock has three. The Belkin dock
also has a FireWire 800 portwhich the DS1 doesnt havethats handy for connecting
legacy peripherals. The DS1 does have the choice of either a DVI or HDMI
graphics port, which could be helpful if you dont have a mini DisplayPort
monitor, though DVI and HDMI to mini DisplayPort adapters are available.
The Belkin dock offers peripheral connections that are similar to those on the
Apple Thunderbolt Display, but for those who dont want Apples glossy 27-inch
monitor and want a dock only, the Thunderbolt Express Dock offers an alternative
that costs $700 less than the Apple Thunderbolt Display.
The Thunderbolt Express Dock is plug and play, no special software needed. The
dock requires OS X 10.8.3 or later and, of course, a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac.
BelkinThe Thunderbolt Express Dock's ports.Bottom line
Owners of Thunderbolt-equipped Mac portables tired of plugging and unplugging
peripherals each time they arrive and leave the office should consider the
Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock. Its a bit pricey, but the docks many and varied
connections can really help you realize the potential of Intels fast and
flexible Thunderbolt technology.
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