Print 13 comment(s) - last by Tanclearas.. on Sep 14 at 2:53 PM

Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock
Belkin offers some connectivity lovin' for Thunderbolt-equipped computers

Intel and Apple has been working together on the Light Peak interface, and Apple has introduced the standard as “Thunderbolt” on its latest array of MacBook Air, MacBook Pros, iMacs, and Mac mini products. 

If you can get past the $50 cables that are required for connecting peripherals to your computer, Light Peak actually shows a lot of promise as witnessed by Sony’s implementation on the VAIO Z’s Power Media Dock

Belkin never misses an opportunity to jump into the latest craze with computer accessories, and the company was showing off its new Thunderbolt Express Dock today at IDF. Tucked away at the bottom of a display case, and overshadowed by some more prominent offerings from Pegasus was the tiny little dock.

The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock features three USB ports, a Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining, a Firewire port, and a GbE port. This is basically the same port setup that’s found on the new 27” Apple Thunderbolt Display

For Apple users looking for expanded port offerings via the Thunderbolt port and don’t want to pay $999 for the functionality, the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock will come in handy. We don’t have any pricing or availability for the dock yet, but we can be sure that it won’t cost anywhere near $999.

Now, will Belkin include a Thunderbolt cable to hook the dock up to your computer instead of making you have to pay an extra $50?

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Where is the USB3 version?
By Tanclearas on 9/13/2011 3:16:38 PM , Rating: 3
Universal docking stations were quite common for USB2, which really was quite painful. I thought updated USB3 versions would be some of the earliest peripherals out there.

Why create a thunderbolt version for a ridiculously small market when USB3 is much more common?

RE: Where is the USB3 version?
By name99 on 9/13/2011 3:27:22 PM , Rating: 2
Seeing this as a "docking station" strikes me as silly. It's all words, but thinking of it as a TB->USB3 hub is far more useful. "Docking Station" implies a very specific usage model.

This is a way to connect USB3 drives (presumably at full speed) to an MBA or Mac Mini or iMac. It also offers (if you want that) the ability to connect an external screen. It also offers (if you want that) a GigE connection. (Apple in the past supported ethernet aggregation, so you could in theory double your bandwidth between two devices both with two gigE connections. Does anyone know if that was limited to XServer hardware, or if it would work in a context like this, say with two iMacs both hooked up to a second gigE port?)

The point is: you can mix-and-match as you wish.
Assuming it works at full speed, doesn't have stupid power limitations, etc, it looks like a nice device (with horrible styling). Really, all they missed is an eSATA connection or two.

As to your complaint --- well, strangely enough Thunderbolt peripherals are not made with the non-Thunderbolt user in mind. What's next? You're going to complain to Pepsi because they don't make a brand of gasoline that works with your car?

RE: Where is the USB3 version?
By danjw1 on 9/13/2011 5:41:31 PM , Rating: 2
Does it have USB 3.0 ports? They just say "USB ports" in the article.

RE: Where is the USB3 version?
By name99 on 9/13/2011 8:11:49 PM , Rating: 2
Whoops. My bad. You are correct.
Though if this DOES have only USB2, not USB3, the CEO of Belkin deserves to be fired.

RE: Where is the USB3 version?
By Tanclearas on 9/14/2011 2:07:11 PM , Rating: 2
Your analogy is completely wrong.

Belkin makes a huge variety of products. They don't just make ThunderBolt products. They don't just make products for the Mac. In fact, they have made a USB 2.0 universal docking station.

It's not at all like Pepsi not making a brand of gasoline. It would be like Pepsi not making a diet cola.

Your complaint that it is not a "docking station" seems like the weird "complaint". If I have a laptop with a ThunderBolt port, a ThunderBolt display, USB keyboard/mouse, a network connection, and perhaps even some firewire device(s), that's pretty much what I need in a docking station. It is not necessarily the type of docking station that would be in high demand, but it is clearly a docking station.

Now, if you substitute the ThunderBolt connectivity on that device with USB3, and replace the ThuderBolt output with VGA/DVI/HDMI output, I can see it being a useful docking station to a LOT more people.

RE: Where is the USB3 version?
By Dr of crap on 9/13/2011 4:25:40 PM , Rating: 2
Because the cables are $50.

Can't see this catching on with those kind of prices!

RE: Where is the USB3 version?
By FaaR on 9/13/2011 6:29:29 PM , Rating: 2
Why create Thunderbolt?

* Weee-eeelll, because it offers 80GBit/s aggregate bandwidth maybe?
* It also offers two streams of 3.6Mpixel resolution video.
* ...And 20 watts of power. All in one very small plug.

Don't be such a negative hater.

RE: Where is the USB3 version?
By Tanclearas on 9/14/2011 2:53:44 PM , Rating: 2
No, it doesn't. Not Apple's implementation anyway.

Not hating. Just confused as to why this low-demand product gets launched when another version, with a more widely adopted connection, is still not available.

Looks familiar
By Final8ty on 9/13/2011 2:35:56 PM , Rating: 2
Taco Belkin.

RE: Looks familiar
By mkrech on 9/13/2011 2:42:59 PM , Rating: 2

By ltcommanderdata on 9/13/2011 4:43:14 PM , Rating: 3
For Apple users looking for expanded port offerings via the Thunderbolt port and don’t want to pay $999 for the functionality, the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock will come in handy. We don’t have any pricing or availability for the dock yet, but we can be sure that it won’t cost anywhere near $999.

You make it sound like Apple is charging $999 for a docking station. $999 is for a 27" IPS monitor that happens to also include a docking station. A comparable Dell 17" U2711 IPS monitor is actually more expensive with a regular price of $1099, now on sale for $949.

Apple doesn't offer a dedicated expansion dock which is where third-parties like Belkin come in. It's a good thing that Apple leaves room for a third-party ecosystem rather than offering all their own accessories, which I'm sure would draw even more criticisms of Apple trying to corner and control the accessories market.

Price point is key
By scootermaster on 9/13/2011 7:00:43 PM , Rating: 1
It'll be interesting to how much this costs. Don't forget, the Apple Display has a magsafe connector built in, which is a HUGE convenience for Apple laptop owners.

An additional magsafe adapter costs, what, like $80ish? So if we do a little math here, that takes the notional "price" of the Apple Display down to $870ish. Now, the question is, how much is the docking part worth? I guess what I'm saying is, if this thing comes out and is like $200 without the cable, then would you pay $620ish for a 27" IPS display? That's the bargain of the century, when you look at it that way. Of course, if the docking station is, say, $75 WITH the cable, then that's a whole different matter.

RE: Price point is key
By Brandon Hill on 9/13/2011 7:44:10 PM , Rating: 2
$80 for a MagSafe adapter? Pfff, I bought a couple extra knockoff ones from eBay for my MacBook Air for $25 each. They work just fine.

That being said, I'd be willing to pick up one of these Belkin docks if the price is right.

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