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Old Apr 9, 2013, 11:45 AM   #1
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ZenDock Tries to Solve Age-Old MacBook Docking Problem




Apple hasn't sold a notebook docking solution since the Duo Dock for the PowerBook Duo. However, a new campaign on Kickstarter has designed a new dock that can be used with any current MacBook Pro model, including the new Retina units.

The ZenDock connects to the Thunderbolt, USB, Gigabit Ethernet, and FireWire ports, while leaving a clever gap for the MagSafe power adapter to slide through. A single cable connects to a mountable base equipped for desktop accessories to be permanently connected to.

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Our team of 4 has been developing ZenDock for just a year. About 4 months ago we tested the concept and the response was overwhelming and so we dove head first into creating our vision. We set out to build ZenDock with 2 design principles in mind. First was to build an elegant solution that would seamlessly integrate with your MacBook. Second was to build a device that just works, yet doesn't get in your way. Both versions always leave at least one USB, SD and headphone port accessible right on your Macbook, while allowing more permanent devices to be connected to the base. The ZenDock is CNC milled from solid blocks of ultra high quality T6061 aluminum, bead blasted and anodized to beautifully match your MacBook.
The ZenDock is available to Kickstarter backers starting at $109 for a limited early-bird backing price, though the company expects to sell the dock for $179 when it hits retail shelves. ZenDock expects to ship to backers in October of this year.

There are a number of Thunderbolt docks on the market that perform a similar function, but they are significantly more expensive -- though they do provide much more functionality. Sonnet has announced a dock with an internal drive bay and optical drive starting at $400, while Matrox and Belkin have announced their own Thunderbolt docking stations.

Article Link: ZenDock Tries to Solve Age-Old MacBook Docking Problem
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 11:49 AM   #2
Rudy69
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The Retina one takes out two thunderbolt ports and only gives you one? It should at least include an ethernet port to make up for this
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 11:54 AM   #3
zigzag801
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Originally Posted by Rudy69 View Post
The Retina one takes out two thunderbolt ports and only gives you one? It should at least include an ethernet port to make up for this
I was really excited about this for my Retina, until I read your comment and looked back at the article. Too bad it only has one thunderbolt output . I use three monitors at home so I need all the ports I can get!
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:03 PM   #4
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Nice until Apple refreshes the ports and changes the entire getup rendering the device useless.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:05 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Rudy69 View Post
The Retina one takes out two thunderbolt ports and only gives you one? It should at least include an ethernet port to make up for this
No, worse: it takes up 2 Thunderbolt ports and gives you one DISPLAYPORT. That's a major oversight.

With those Sonnet or Belkin Thunderbolt solutions you don't even really need a dock. You can just connect the one Thunderbolt cable, and you're done *leaving all the ports on your laptop free.

Looks like they somewhat missed the point of Thunderbolt :/
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:05 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Rudy69 View Post
The Retina one takes out two thunderbolt ports and only gives you one? It should at least include an ethernet port to make up for this
Unless I'm mistaken in my read of the kickstarter page, it replaces one TB port with Mini DP (on the hub part), and allows for a "pass-through" Thunderbolt cable in the dock module itself. So you wind up being able to run a display, and have a data Thunderbolt port. Not quite as good as two Thunderbolt ports, but probably sufficient for most situations.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:07 PM   #7
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After taking a look at the kickstarter page it doesn't look as bad as I previously thought. With how few peripherals there are right now for thunderbolt, at least this hub is much more affordable than others. Personally to me, it is probably the most pleasing on the eyes as well.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:11 PM   #8
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Definitely not worth it.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:11 PM   #9
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I dont understand what it does.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:14 PM   #10
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I dont understand what it does.
The idea is that you plug in your various accessories/peripherals such as external HDs or monitors into the base. Then, you plug the dock box into your computer so you get all of those peripherals when at your desk.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:14 PM   #11
cmChimera
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Pay 109 bucks and lose two thunderbolt ports?
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:17 PM   #12
gatearray
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Originally Posted by rdas7 View Post
No, worse: it takes up 2 Thunderbolt ports and gives you one DISPLAYPORT. That's a major oversight.

With those Sonnet or Belkin Thunderbolt solutions you don't even really need a dock. You can just connect the one Thunderbolt cable, and you're done —*leaving all the ports on your laptop free.

Looks like they somewhat missed the point of Thunderbolt :/
you hit the nail on the head, thank you for posting!

many people miss the point of Thuderbolt, it acts a lot like the PCIe slots on a Mac Pro, a direct injection into the brain of your computer. it's backwards compatible with all previous connectors like FW and USB, and has plenty of thoughput to handle multiple instances of each, it's wonderful tech that often gets a bad rap from those without a clue!

anyway, those belkin/sonnet docks you mentioned take a single cable and in the end, turn it into what what looks like the back of a Mac Mini.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:19 PM   #13
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I wonder if it is easy to detach the connector in a MacBook Pro, since it includes an RJ-45 connector with a latch that must be pushed down in order to remove it. They never detach it in the video.
Besides that, I hate videos with people staring everywhere but the camera...
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:23 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by cmChimera View Post
Pay 109 bucks and lose two thunderbolt ports?
You only "lose" one. One is a direct pass through, the other turns to display port on the dock.

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Originally Posted by laflores View Post
I wonder if it is easy to detach the connector in a MacBook Pro, since it includes an RJ-45 connector with a latch that must be pushed down in order to remove it. They never detach it in the video.
Besides that, I hate videos with people staring everywhere except the camera...
I'm sure the latch is just gone since the rest of the dock cable to keep it connected. Those cords still work without the latch. They just have the stay in place since losing connection is a big deal.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:30 PM   #15
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To me the big fail is that the Retina dock doesn't include a wired ethernet port on the "back end."
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:33 PM   #16
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I think I would much rather wait for an updated Thunderbolt Display that has USB 3, then connect to the Thunderbolt Display via a thunderbolt cable and instantly have a bunch of ports on the back of the Thunderbolt Display be active and connected to my peripherals.

The whole point of Thunderbolt is to have one cable for docking. Any docking solution should use a single thunderbolt port and then replicate all the needed ports on the other end.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:35 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by AbSoluTc View Post
Nice until Apple refreshes the ports and changes the entire getup rendering the device useless.
It's pretty much the same for any Windows laptop.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:45 PM   #18
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It looks like this doesn't come with a power cable either, just a slot for you to put the magsafe connector of your power adapter. So if you want this to sit on your desk all the time and be able to take your power adapter with you, you either have to buy another power adapter or pull the power cord out of it every time.

The other thunderbolt docks don't include power either, but from some of the pictures of this on on their kickstarter page it sort of looks like the power cable might be included.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 12:49 PM   #19
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This was similar and hit Kickstarter before:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...ocking-station
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 01:17 PM   #20
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I'd rather just get the Matrox dock unit. It's more expensive, but less cumbersome, IMO.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 01:54 PM   #21
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While the relatively cheap price is nice, the need for a "docking" solution like this with multiple ports has really declined with thunderbolt and some of the solutions out there, like Apple's own thunderbolt display.

Though... once again, the circa $100 price does hit a sweet spot.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 02:41 PM   #22
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But since you still have to "Eject" every single external storage unit before you unplug it, it will rarely save time since you have to wait ages before unplugging anyway.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 02:45 PM   #23
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I'm guessing with power on one side and thunderbolt on the other, the Air was left out. Maybe it doesn't need it as much?
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 02:54 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by pgiguere1 View Post
This was similar and hit Kickstarter before:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...ocking-station
As did this. Not identical but in the same ballpark.
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Old Apr 9, 2013, 03:03 PM   #25
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If only it offered USB 3.0 for USB 2.0 MBPs via Thunderbolt.
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