Belkin Officially Begins Shipping Thunderbolt Express Dock

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 30, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.
    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
  2. macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2009
    That is just too expensive for a docking station
  3. macrumors 68030


    Dec 18, 2007
    NY State of mind
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 24, 2011
    Way overpriced and under-ported. A couple of USB3 and an Ethernet? Big whoop.
  5. macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2007
    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.
  6. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 9, 2010
    Hampshire, UK
    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?
  7. macrumors 65816


    Nov 20, 2007
    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.
  8. macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2011
    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.
  9. macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2012
    Plus 2 Thunderbolt ports and a FireWire 800, did you miss them?
  10. macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    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.
  11. macrumors regular

    Jan 17, 2006
    about 3 meters from here. *points*
    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.
  12. macrumors 68000


    Jul 22, 2002
    For that price I'd want 7 USB3 ports and a built in DVD or BD burner!
  13. macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    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.

    Look at the Sonnet, although that only has 4 USB ports, at least it has the optical drive and a couple of eSata ports.
  14. repoman27, Apr 30, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013

    macrumors 6502

    May 13, 2011
    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.
  15. skippymac, Apr 30, 2013
    Last edited: May 27, 2013

    macrumors 6502a


    Jun 9, 2010
    Hampshire, UK
    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.
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 26, 2007
    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.


    Plus Thunderbolt, FireWire 800, audio... don't be so blind.
  17. macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2011
    London, England
  18. macrumors regular


    Feb 26, 2008
    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.
  19. macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2007
    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.
  20. JAT
    macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    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.
  21. macrumors 6502

    May 13, 2011
    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.
  22. macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2007
    $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.


    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.
  23. macrumors 68020

    Oct 26, 2008
    Yay. Ports for the price if a cheap Windows pc.

    How much for a USB hub to expand the 2 they give you here?
  24. macrumors 65816


    Sep 20, 2008
    Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
    Do the USB 3.0 ports work with Macs that don't come with USB 3.0?
  25. macrumors member

    Dec 25, 2009
    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 point—but I wouldn't need it to be particularly fast.

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