ZenDock Tries to Solve Age-Old MacBook Docking Problem

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.

    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
  2. macrumors 6502


    Mar 30, 2009
    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
  3. macrumors member

    Apr 5, 2008
    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!
  4. macrumors 68030


    Sep 21, 2008
    Nice until Apple refreshes the ports and changes the entire getup rendering the device useless.
  5. macrumors regular


    Nov 17, 2002
    London, England
    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 :/
  6. macrumors member


    Jul 3, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    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.
  7. macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2011
    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.
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 3, 2012
  9. macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2013
  10. macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2009
    Parts Unknown
    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.
  11. macrumors 68040


    Feb 12, 2010
    Pay 109 bucks and lose two thunderbolt ports?
  12. macrumors 65816

    Apr 24, 2010
    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! :eek:

    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. :)
  13. macrumors regular

    May 5, 2011
    Costa Rica
    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...
  14. macrumors 68000


    Jun 20, 2010
    Twin Cities
    You only "lose" one. One is a direct pass through, the other turns to display port on the dock.

    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.
  15. macrumors 6502

    Flash SWT

    Mar 14, 2009
    Houston, TX
    To me the big fail is that the Retina dock doesn't include a wired ethernet port on the "back end."
  16. macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2009
    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.
  17. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2009
    It's pretty much the same for any Windows laptop.
  18. macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2011
    Atlanta, GA
    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.
  19. macrumors 68020


    May 28, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
  20. macrumors 68020

    Jul 13, 2008
    I'd rather just get the Matrox dock unit. It's more expensive, but less cumbersome, IMO.
  21. Editor emeritus


    Jul 10, 2003
    Falls Church, VA
    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.
  22. macrumors 68030


    Oct 3, 2009
    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.
  23. macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    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?
  24. macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
  25. macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2012
    If only it offered USB 3.0 for USB 2.0 MBPs via Thunderbolt.

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