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Old Apr 30, 2013, 08:01 AM   #1
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Belkin Officially Begins Shipping Thunderbolt Express Dock




More than a year and a half after it showed off its first concept for a Thunderbolt docking station, Belkin today officially began shipping its Thunderbolt Express Dock. The $299.99 dock offers users a single-cable connection for a docking station supporting a FireWire 800 port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, three USB 3.0 ports, audio in/out, and Thunderbolt passthrough.
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Designed to be an easy and powerful way to increase productivity and take advantage of Thunderbolt technology, Belkin's Thunderbolt Express Dock allows creative professionals the ability to edit films in full HD 1080p, and transfer volumes of data in seconds at bidirectional 10Gbps channels. That is up to 20 times faster than with USB 2.0 and up to 12 times faster than with FireWire 800. The Thunderbolt Express Dock uses a single high-speed connection to create ultrafast data transfers between your laptop and up to eight other devices, including FireWire, Ethernet, USB, and enables users to daisy-chain up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.
Belkin's Thunderbolt Express Dock has had a lengthy history, going through various design and pricing changes before settling on the current feature set. Belkin began taking pre-orders in mid-February, saying that the dock would begin shipping the following week, but the company ended up pushing back the launch of the dock until today.

Belkin representatives declined to offer details on the reasons for the last-minute delay, noting only that the company sought to "ensure that the product's new features and interface would deliver the best possible experience for users."

With a delayed release date for its Thunderbolt Express Dock, Belkin is not the first company to bring a Thunderbolt docking station to market, with Matrox having launched its DS1 dock back in December. CalDigit has announced its own similar solution launching sometime this summer, and Sonnet has announced an even more expansive dock incorporating both an optical drive and an integrated hard drive.

Other solutions such as the ZenDock on Kickstarter are bypassing the expensive and time-consuming implementation of single-cable Thunderbolt connections, instead opting to extend the existing port sets on the MacBook Pro and Retina MacBook Pro through an adapter to a docking station.

Article Link: Belkin Officially Begins Shipping Thunderbolt Express Dock
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 08:07 AM   #2
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That is just too expensive for a docking station
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 08:31 AM   #3
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$300.....that's insane.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 08:33 AM   #4
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Way overpriced and under-ported. A couple of USB3 and an Ethernet? Big whoop.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 08:35 AM   #5
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The Henge Horizontal Dock is a way better deal for the rMBP.

The Belkin one would have been good if it had 2 Thunderbolt out ports (note that in the pic, one of those two ports has to plug into your mac), HDMI (or preferably Mini Display Port IN ADDITION to 2 thunderbolts) and at least 6 USB 3.0 ports. Seriously, who the hell only has a couple of USB 3.0 things to plug in these days.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 08:46 AM   #6
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Every time there's a story about any thunderbolt accessory, someone posts saying it would be better with another thunderbolt port.

I was under the impression that having more than one thunderbolt port (for daisy chaining) would basically require an entire motherboard (very expensive).

Could someone tell me if I've got this right or if dock manufacturers are in fact just lazy?
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 08:47 AM   #7
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Expensive for what it is, but this is the sort of thing I want. Get me a nice, cheap IPS monitor, strap this to the back and then I'm good to go.

Apple's display is just too expensive.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 08:48 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by djdover View Post
Way overpriced and under-ported. A couple of USB3 and an Ethernet? Big whoop.
I agree. It would have made more sense had it hit the market before Apple started shipping USB 3.0 systems. As a 2011 MBP owner, I'd benefit from USB via Thunderbolt, but I also feel that at that price my money is better spent going towards a new system.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 08:49 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by djdover View Post
Way overpriced and under-ported. A couple of USB3 and an Ethernet? Big whoop.
Plus 2 Thunderbolt ports and a FireWire 800, did you miss them?
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 08:55 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by skippymac View Post
Every time there's a story about any thunderbolt accessory, someone posts saying it would be better with another thunderbolt port.

I was under the impression that having more than one thunderbolt port (for daisy chaining) would basically require an entire motherboard (very expensive).

Could someone tell me if I've got this right or if dock manufacturers are in fact just lazy?
I think you're correct. A "Thunderbolt Splitter" just isn't really possible.

The way to attach more than one device to a Thunderbolt port is to daisy chain them. As the chips get cheaper we will seek ore and more devices that support daisy chaining.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 08:57 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Pianoblack3 View Post
Plus 2 Thunderbolt ports and a FireWire 800, did you miss them?
Actually, it's only one TB port. One is TB in, the other TB out.

Great idea, but not impressive for 300 bones - and this coming from an avid Mac user who is used to paying a price premium.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 09:01 AM   #12
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For that price I'd want 7 USB3 ports and a built in DVD or BD burner!
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 09:07 AM   #13
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Comparing it to the other Thunderbolt docking solutions:
  • The Matrox has only one Thunderbolt port thus ending your Thunderbolt chain andapparently only one of the USB ports is 3.0.
  • The CalDigit only has 2 USB 3.0 prorts but at leats it has 2 Thunderbolt ports.
  • The Sonnet while being the most expensive has the ost ports. 4 USB 3.0, 2 eSata ports, etc. It also has the option for an internal optical drive and an option for an internal hard drive.
For those that want the optical drive, the Sonnet is a very good deal, it means one less device on the desktop and therefore less cabling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancer View Post
For that price I'd want 7 USB3 ports and a built in DVD or BD burner!
Look at the Sonnet, although that only has 4 USB ports, at least it has the optical drive and a couple of eSata ports.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 09:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skippymac View Post
Every time there's a story about any thunderbolt accessory, someone posts saying it would be better with another thunderbolt port.

I was under the impression that having more than one thunderbolt port (for daisy chaining) would basically require an entire motherboard (very expensive).

Could someone tell me if I've got this right or if dock manufacturers are in fact just lazy?
To date, Thunderbolt controllers have only come in 1-port or 2-port flavors. To create a device with more than 2 ports (or more than one display output) would require the use of multiple 2-port controllers. These controllers cost the manufacturer about $30 apiece, and quite a few additional components are still required at this point, so using 2 of them would increase the retail price of the device by about $140.

Edit: Incidentally, discrete USB 3.0 host controllers are only available in 2 or 4-port flavors at this point, and there are many issues with the very limited selection of hub chips. That is why there are only 3 USB 3.0 ports on this dock. One port is used internally for a USB audio device, and adding more would have required either a hub or an additional host controller.

Last edited by repoman27; Apr 30, 2013 at 09:13 AM.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 09:09 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Stetrain View Post
I think you're correct. A "Thunderbolt Splitter" just isn't really possible.

The way to attach more than one device to a Thunderbolt port is to daisy chain them. As the chips get cheaper we will seek ore and more devices that support daisy chaining.
It seems a shame that there are so many "end of chain" devices available at the moment, which could probably easily be daisy chained (HDDs etc). All that will happen is people will buy them because they're cheaper and then lose out in the long run because they have too many end devices to use at once.
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Last edited by skippymac; May 27, 2013 at 07:00 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 09:14 AM   #16
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Very interesting PRO solution, probably i will get one if Apple didn't update ThunderBolt display soon.

3 USB3, FireWire 800, Ethernet, Audio and other Thunderbolt are perfect for me...

For me it is new ThunderBolt Display if they didn't cost a fortune, otherwise i will buy a good 26" inch lcd plus this.

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Originally Posted by djdover View Post
Way overpriced and under-ported. A couple of USB3 and an Ethernet? Big whoop.
Plus Thunderbolt, FireWire 800, audio... don't be so blind.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 09:25 AM   #17
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 09:37 AM   #18
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If apple would update the 27" Thunderbolt display with USB 3 I would rather spend the extra money into a new monitor. =/

If it also had audio out I'd be happy as a clam.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 09:39 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Stetrain View Post
I think you're correct. A "Thunderbolt Splitter" just isn't really possible.

The way to attach more than one device to a Thunderbolt port is to daisy chain them. As the chips get cheaper we will seek ore and more devices that support daisy chaining.
Thunderbolts already 2 years old and number of devices that are out there that aren't end-of-chain hard drives could probably be counted on one hand. The prices havent dropped, the license fee set by Apple & Intel is still extremely high.

They have pretty much already killed it. It's Firewire all over again - better, but so poorly supported and expensive that nobody bothers.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 09:48 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Santabean2000 View Post
Expensive for what it is, but this is the sort of thing I want. Get me a nice, cheap IPS monitor, strap this to the back and then I'm good to go.

Apple's display is just too expensive.
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For me it is new ThunderBolt Display if they didn't cost a fortune, otherwise i will buy a good 26" inch lcd plus this.
You realize that displays comparable to Apple's are over $600 easily, if not even more expensive than Apple's. So, that plus $300 for a TB dock is basically the same as just buying an ACD, pricewise.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 09:51 AM   #21
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Don't forget, $40 cable* required (*not included).

To be fair though, this dock does include:

2-port Thunderbolt controller
Gigabit Ethernet controller
FireWire 800 host controller
4-port USB 3.0 host controller
USB audio device
components necessary to enable Multi-Mode DisplayPort 1.1a output
power supply

This is also the first device, AFAIK, that allows you to add USB 3.0 to your 2011 Mac without ending the Thunderbolt chain.

If you want to pick on the provided port selection, there should be a second FireWire 800 port (because the controller used likely supports more than one port), the headphone and microphone ports should be on the front and digital/analog audio line-in/out should be on the back (I know Belkin was going for all the ports on the back and then the little cable channel underneath to route cables going forward, but it's kinda silly). And a UHS-I SDXC card reader could have been included for not much additional cost using one of Broadcom's integrated GbE solutions.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 09:52 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by JAT View Post
You realize that displays comparable to Apple's are over $600 easily, if not even more expensive than Apple's. So, that plus $300 for a TB dock is basically the same as just buying an ACD, pricewise.
$600 for the display if you buy it from someone like Dell.

However the same display can be imported (guaranteed 100% pixel perfect- something Dell nor Apple will do) for around $300.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by repoman27 View Post
Don't forget, $40 cable* required (*not included).

To be fair though, this dock does include:

2-port Thunderbolt controller
Gigabit Ethernet controller
FireWire 800 host controller
4-port USB 3.0 host controller
USB audio device
components necessary to enable Multi-Mode DisplayPort 1.1a output
power supply

This is also the first device, AFAIK, that allows you to add USB 3.0 to your 2011 Mac without ending the Thunderbolt chain.

If you want to pick on the provided port selection, there should be a second FireWire 800 port (because the controller used likely supports more than one port), the headphone and microphone ports should be on the front and digital/analog audio line-in/out should be on the back (I know Belkin was going for all the ports on the back and then the little cable channel underneath to route cables going forward, but it's kinda silly). And a UHS-I SDXC card reader could have been included for not much additional cost using one of Broadcom's integrated GbE solutions.
Saying it has a 2-port thunderbolt controller is a bit misleading. It has 1 usable thunderbolt port. The other will be plugged into your Mac.

I'd maybe pick one up if they had thrown a couple of eSata ports on it, but its not worth it for the price. The henge rMBP dock is out soon with any luck, and whilst it comes with (optional) thunderbolt pass through, it also offers 3 MiniDisplayPort video out ports, 6 USB 3.0 ports, 1x Firewire 800, 1x Gig Ethernet, SD card and left/right audio outputs. For $249 ($349 with passthrough) its a way better option IMO.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 10:05 AM   #23
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Yay. Ports for the price if a cheap Windows pc.

How much for a USB hub to expand the 2 they give you here?
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 10:05 AM   #24
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Do the USB 3.0 ports work with Macs that don't come with USB 3.0?
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 10:09 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by rmwebs View Post
The Henge Horizontal Dock is a way better deal for the rMBP.

The Belkin one would have been good if it had 2 Thunderbolt out ports (note that in the pic, one of those two ports has to plug into your mac), HDMI (or preferably Mini Display Port IN ADDITION to 2 thunderbolts) and at least 6 USB 3.0 ports. Seriously, who the hell only has a couple of USB 3.0 things to plug in these days.
I have zero.

If I were to buy a dock (I won't because they're too expensive) it would be for hooking up my monitor (MDP), keyboard, mouse, and speakers. I guess I might also want to add an HDD at some pointóbut I wouldn't need it to be particularly fast.
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