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Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock for Mac now shipping for $299

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock, first announced in January of 2012, is now available for purchase for $299, more than a year after the Mac accessory was unveiled.

Belkin


The docking station allows users to have instant access to 8 ports by connecting just one high-speed Lightning cable to their Mac. The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock includes:
  • One Gigabit Ethernet port
  • One Firewire 800 port
  • One Thunderbolt port for daisy-chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices
  • One 3.5 millimeter headphone output jack
  • One 3.5 millimeter audio input jack
  • Three USB 3.0 ports with max data transfer of 2.5Gbps
  • Cable management channel

The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock is compatible with all recent Macs equipped with Thunderbolt ports, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Belkin boasts that the high speed of Thunderbolt allows users to download a high-definition feature film in 30 seconds, or sync a year's worth of continuous music in 10 minutes.

Belkin


The Thunderbolt Express Dock was first announced by Belkin at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2012. At the time, the company said the accessory would become available last September, but that launch date was missed.

Since the original unveiling, the hardware has been upgraded to include three USB 3.0 ports. The originally announced hardware featured USB 2.0 ports running at slower speeds.

But the shipping accessory has also lost an HDMI out port, which was also initially planned to be included with the docking station.
post #2 of 36
Looks very nice if pricy. Hopefully the cost will come down over time.
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
Google Motto "You're not the customer. You're the product."
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
Google Motto "You're not the customer. You're the product."
Reply
post #3 of 36
I'll wait to see what the next Thunderbolt display has to offer. I hope in the next few months. It's just shipping, and the price is just the suggested price, so the street price of the Belkin might go down in a few months. I only found it available for preorder on B&H.
post #4 of 36
Losing the HDMI sucks a bit.
post #5 of 36
$299? Lol.
post #6 of 36
Right. Totally not worth it.
post #7 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcoleman1 View Post

Right. Totally not worth it.

 

What you meant to say, had you been thinking, is that it's totally not worth it to you

 

And in our case we prefer to apply that $299 toward the $999 cost of a 27" Apple Thunderbolt display, which provides similar connectivity — plus of course a large screen for the extra money.

 

But people's needs and circumstances are different.

post #8 of 36

Is that an aluminum unibody casing, or just painted plastic?

And what's with the unattractive cutout on the front?
 

post #9 of 36
What's the point of this thing if it has lost that HDMI out? Can I plug my mini-display port to HDMI adapter into that thunderbolt out port? I'm guessing probably not, so again, what's the point of this thing without a video out?
post #10 of 36
Why in the heck did it take over a year to get this out when all the technology was already available?????
post #11 of 36
And why in the world would you remove HDMI when it is easy to add? This sure seems like a lot of incompetence!
post #12 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

What's the point of this thing if it has lost that HDMI out? Can I plug my mini-display port to HDMI adapter into that thunderbolt out port? I'm guessing probably not, so again, what's the point of this thing without a video out?

 

I have two BookEndz docks and in that case the Thunderbolt passthrough doesn't pass through full Thunderbolt but just Display Port and it does work with DVI and other adapters. Although in the one case I have modified my BookEndz dock so that the Thunderbolt cable from my 27" monitor plugs directly into the side of the notebook along with all the built in connectors. I would have preferred they somehow integrated the power connection as well even if only some sort of slot you push your power cord into such that the dock/undock would connect it automatically as I sometimes forget to connect the power after reconnecting to the dock. Of course the BookEndz product work a bit differently in terms of how you connect it to the computer. 

 

I wonder about the claims of transfer speed - such thunderbolt is fast - but it depends entirely on what you have connected to it. A USB 2 external hard drive connected to a USB 3 port on the dock connected via Thunderbolt to your Mac is not going to be any faster than plugging that drive directly into a USB 2 port on the computer (well perhaps marginally depending on buffering etc of the thunderbolt interface compared to USB interface). My Pegasus RAID array attached via Thunderbolt IS fast - but not everyone has a use case where the cost of such a device is acceptable - and even then you would only be talking about transferring the movie or music from internal storage to external storage. Having a full gigabit network between all your devices is likely a better investment for most folks - unless you have only one computer.

post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by PScooter63 View Post

And what's with the unattractive cutout on the front?

 

Looks like it's for passing cords through under the dock.

 
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post #14 of 36

Those extra USB ports would come in handy for laptop users.

post #15 of 36
The additional thunderbolt port obviates the need for HDMI. The cut out is for Cable management.
post #16 of 36
$299? Hell no. This is why Firewire never caught on. The cost of licensing is so high these companies can't make anything inexpensive.
post #17 of 36
Caldigit offers the HDMI instead of firewire

Apple increments product features one bite at a time...hence the logo. Want the next big thing? You're gonna have to pick another fruit from the Apple Tree.

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Apple increments product features one bite at a time...hence the logo. Want the next big thing? You're gonna have to pick another fruit from the Apple Tree.

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post #18 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

$299? Hell no. This is why Firewire never caught on. The cost of licensing is so high these companies can't make anything inexpensive.

 

I paid $257 including tac for one of my BookEndz docks for a Macbook Pro - and well worth the investment. Had to work without it for a while until I modified it to work directly with a new Thunderbolt external display and only confirmed the usefulness. Of course the BookEndz sits under the machine and is made to angle the base up to a more comfortable position. The only thing I dislike about the BookEndz is the power cord sticking out the side - should have been in the back - but then in my case I have two notebooks side by side on a 6' long desk - so space between them with an external tackball on the one and magic trackpad on the other is a bit tight. 

post #19 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The docking station allows users to have instant access to 8 ports by connecting just one high-speed Lightning cable to their Mac.

 

Lightning cable? Is that a mistake? Why would it connect with a Lightning cable rather than a Thunderbolt cable?

 

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

  • Three USB 3.0 ports with max data transfer of 2.5Gbps

 

Isn't the USB3 spec 5Gb/s? Is this an error or are the USB3 ports really only capable of half speed?

post #20 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

$299? Hell no. This is why Firewire never caught on. The cost of licensing is so high these companies can't make anything inexpensive.

Totally different scenario.  FW licensing was $1 per port, IIRC, not a dealbreaker, and anyone was free to offer it.  The main reason so many didn't use it was that it wasn't their market, didn't need it.  OTOH, Intel has been absurdly tight on who they've been allowing to even have a license, hence the lack of competitive options.  There was no such restriction on FW and the cost of the port didn't tell the tale on FW in the marketplace.  Anything that wanted to have a FW port had it.

 

Anyway, when you say "Firewire never caught on" you and I have been living in completely different worlds for the past decade  :  )  Mine and nearly all of my peers has been totally FW based and dependent.  If you're saying that FW never caught on in $500 Windows laptops, well...

post #21 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Zahran View Post

The additional thunderbolt port obviates the need for HDMI. The cut out is for Cable management.

Assuming said thunderbolt port can also pass thru video. Nothing on the product website states that it can. Even so, for those of us without thunderbolt-equipped monitors, this would require and additional adapter, bumping the price up an additional 30-40 dollars.
I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous.

The only useful aspect of this thing is the addition of extra USB ports and an Ethernet port. Guess what? I can solve that with a 25 dollar USB hub and 30 dollar Ethernet dongle, and save myself a ton of money. True I'd be losing some speed with the hub, but really, are there any devices currently out that saturate a USB 3 connection at the moment aside from high speed external storage? People who need more than two USB ports mainly require them for external mice, keyboards, headsets, charging phones or tablets, etc etc. A pocket sized hub would take care of all that.
post #22 of 36
post #23 of 36
Anyone have any experience with the Thunderbolt Station? It's $100 less and has HDMI. Unless the quality is not good, it seems like a no-brainer.

http://www.caldigit.com/ThunderboltStation/
post #24 of 36

   As far as both the Sonnet and Caldigit boxes, I'd be willing to bet that against the actual production set up for either even existing yet.  Since their physical innards isn't all that complicated or exacting (nothing like a laptop) and they're still announced as waiting listed summer shipping birds in the bush, that's my hunch.

 

  That particular Caldigit doesn't do enough for me to warrant a purchase.  The Sonnet has stuff I don't need, but I won't even think about it until a confirmed ship date, which could be four months away.

post #25 of 36

Every clone motherboard has FW on it. It's FW400 but it's on there.

post #26 of 36
Does it need to be plugged into a power adapter at all times?
post #27 of 36

I hate to tallestskil, but I'm inclined to think this is objectively not worth it. As a couple people have pointed out upthread, you can get all the functionality of this for ~$50 by combining stuff from other vendors.

 

But I do kind of wonder what people would be saying if it had an Apple logo on it rather than a Belkin one.

post #28 of 36
Why is the USB 3 limited to 2.5gbps?
post #29 of 36

Dumb question, but if I purchase one of these TB hubs for a 2011 iMac, can I use the USB 3 ports?

post #30 of 36
BTW: It's not a "Lightning" cable that you connect to your Mac, It's a "Thunderbolt" cable. You guys have had so many typos lately. Anyone proofreading these posts?
post #31 of 36
I have a 2011 iMac, which only includes USB 2 ports, along with the Thunderbolt. I have no reason to upgrade to a newer iMac with USB 3 and thought the Express Dock might bring me faster speeds for my USB 3 portable drives via the Thunderbolt port. Many of you focus on connecting displays to your laptops. Since Thunderbolt drives are few and expensive, the $299 for this item may be worth it if I can use my USB 3 drives for my iMac. As many of the Thunderbolt drives still have 5400 rpm internals, some with 7209 rpm, the speed of Thunderbolt is wasted on these. I could buy a WD 10,000 rpm drive for $900, but already own several USB 3 drives. I would like to improve their throughput on my iMac.
post #32 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post


Assuming said thunderbolt port can also pass thru video. Nothing on the product website states that it can. Even so, for those of us without thunderbolt-equipped monitors, this would require and additional adapter, bumping the price up an additional 30-40 dollars.
I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous.

The only useful aspect of this thing is the addition of extra USB ports and an Ethernet port. Guess what? I can solve that with a 25 dollar USB hub and 30 dollar Ethernet dongle, and save myself a ton of money. True I'd be losing some speed with the hub, but really, are there any devices currently out that saturate a USB 3 connection at the moment aside from high speed external storage? People who need more than two USB ports mainly require them for external mice, keyboards, headsets, charging phones or tablets, etc etc. A pocket sized hub would take care of all that.

It's Thunderbolt of course it does video.

 

The lack of HDMI is nothing because you simply add a Thunderbolt to HDMI cable.

 

As to the USB hub losing speed it's a massive drop when you add extra USB devices. For instance, it will only ever run at the slowest device connected to it. If you plug in a USB 1.1 mouse because USB 2 seems overkill you've automatically killed the benefit of USB 3 for any USB 3 device. Add another device and you've halved the speed automatically. e.g Have a USB 3 HDD and you add another USB 3 HDD your drives are now running at half the speed of USB. Add another USB 3 HDD and you are now running at half of half the speed. This is why Firewire exists and is also why Thunderbolt is so beneficial and yet why this hub is needed.

 

USB sucks and is really only good for low speed devices or single high speed USB devices.

post #33 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by appstate98 View Post

Dumb question, but if I purchase one of these TB hubs for a 2011 iMac, can I use the USB 3 ports?

Yes

post #34 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by palegolas View Post

Does it need to be plugged into a power adapter at all times?

Yes. It powers USB devices, it powers Thunderbolt devices, and it can power some Firewire devices. The power has to come from somewhere and the Thunderbolt connection can't do it all.

post #35 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilM View Post

 

What you meant to say, had you been thinking, is that it's totally not worth it to you

 

And in our case we prefer to apply that $299 toward the $999 cost of a 27" Apple Thunderbolt display, which provides similar connectivity — plus of course a large screen for the extra money.

 

But people's needs and circumstances are different.


However the current 27" Apple Thunderbolt display has only usb 2.0 ports, sadly.

post #36 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryn Lowe View Post

Yes

Dumb question or yes, it will allow USB 3.0? 1wink.gif Kidding.  Thanks!

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