Belkin | Notebook Expansion Dock | User guide | Belkin Notebook Expansion Dock User guide

Belkin Notebook Expansion Dock User guide
August 2014
ApplePickers Main Meeting
We usually meet the second Wednesday of each
month, 6:30-7:00 p.m. social time, main meeting
7:00-8:45 p.m. at the Fishers Library, 5 Municipal Dr.
just north of 116th St. in Fishers. Visitors are always
welcome to come and join us. Please check our website calendar for meeting dates.
Learn about Pixelmator,
a low-cost alternative to
Upcoming Meetings
Business Meetings are now
Virtual (See Forums)
Main Meeting
Wednesday, August 6th
Quick Find Index
General club information
Boogie Board
Review: Page MeUp
Six Useful Apple Accessories
Buy iTunes Credit with Passbook
Mac Thunderbolt Docks
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 7
Page 9
Page 12
ApplePickers Business Meeting
The business meeting is held via the ApplePickers
“Virtual Business Meeting” forum topic. Any member
is welcome to post in that topic stating their opinions
on what the club should be doing.
Mac ProSIG
Each month, Apple Representative Greg Willmore
hosts the Mac Programmer’s SIG. You should email
Greg at for specific information.
Location varies.
Final Cut Pro User Group
The INDYFCPUG meets the fourth Thursday of each
month from 7:00-9:30 p.m. Since the location may
vary, please be sure to check their website.
Page 1
ApplePickers Officers
PresidentBob van
Vice PresidentJim
Public Relations
Gareth Souders
Past President
Bob Carpenter
Newsletter Production
Editor this month
Editor next month
The Review Guru
Bob van Lier
Randy Marcy
Irv Haas
About the ApplePickers
Newsletter Information
ApplePickers is a not-for-profit educational organization. We are made up of volunteers who donate their
time for the community advancement of computing.
We are in the business of giving away information. All
are welcome to join and we encourage you to get involved. Contact anyone mentioned above or write to:
ApplePickers, P.O.Box 20136, Indianapolis, IN., 46220
We welcome members’ contributions to the newsletter. Submission deadline is the 20th of the month.
Please send articles to the editor for that month. Randy
is the editor next month. ApplePickers accepts a member’s classified ad free of charge once every 6 months.
Business ads are also accepted. Email for more information, or visit our website:
Remember that ApplePickers is here to help you. Advertisement rates are as follows:
This help comes from our many members who Business card size - 3” x 2.5” $60 per 6 months
give of their time and talents to the group. Please Quarter page size - 3.75” x 5” $100 per 6 months
help us to help you by giving something in return.
All advertisement requests must be approved by the
Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors board prior to inclusion in the newsletter. Full color
and may not be construed as the official views of the or grayscale ads have the same price. We request that
ApplePickers MUG.
your ad be “camera ready” art. 300dpi is preferred.
Email ads to either newsletter editor.
ApplePickers Message Boards
Club Benefit
Come and join us at the ApplePickers’ new Message
Boards! Ask questions, read other ApplePickers member’s postings. See gossip and news and special announcements. The ApplePickers Message Boards are
a valuable and useful member benefit! Free subscriptions for ApplePickers members. To join point your
browser of choice to, and click
on the Forum tab on the top of the website. If you
need an account or lost your password, please E-mail
Bob van Lier at
As a benefit to our members, we offer the ability to
have your own e-mail address.
If you are interested in setting up an ApplePickers
email address for yourself, please send an e-mail
request to Bob van Lier and give us the address you
wish to have and whether you just want a forwarding account or a regular e-mail account.
Page 2
REVIEW: Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet
By Irv Haas
The Review Guru
f you have been looking for that replacement
for paper and pen to take simple notes, look no
further than the Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet.
Basic Features
Here are some of the basic features of Boogie Board:
üErase your image with the press of a button
Think of this device as an electronic Etch-A-Sketch
tablet designed for the whole family—not just
for kids! This is a tablet that lets you write/draw
anything and erase it with a simple push of a button.
The display background is black with writing in
white. It features a sealed
3-volt battery that can
save your work as much
as 50,000 times. These
devices are extremely
thin—1/8” thin!
üSealed 3v watch battery provides over 50,000
erase cycles.
üUltra-thin 1/8” tablet with light weight
ü Case made from
durable, shatter-proof, nontoxic plastic
ü Pressure-sensitive LCD
writing surface is easy to
clean and maintain
This tablet could be placed
on a refrigerator with
the enclosed magnets.
A family could write
notes like as a grocery
list or today’s errands, for
ü Write or draw with the
included stylus or almost
any instrument—even your
It comes in sizes ranging
from 4.5” to 10.5”. The most
commonly sold Boogie
Board is 8.5” in size and
lists for $29.99. It comes in various frame colors and
prices from $22 to $25.
If you want to save on paper
or pens, the Boogie Board
LCD Writing Tablet is worth
considering. Just write on the
tablet and erase with a press
of a button. Sounds pretty simple, right?
If you require more from this technology, Boogie
offers a 10.5” model that lets you save your display
in PDF format and includes a USB cable that lets to
download it to your Mac or PC. This model lists for
$129.99 and sells for $99.99.
Its operation is indeed simple, but be sure you have a
need for this tablet. Keeping in a central location for
the whole family to make contributions is a sensible
use. But to use this for taking notes is questionable,
especially since you can only keep one page at a
time before you need to erase it for another use.
The newest model with this technology comes
in an iPhone case with built-in LCD 5” tablet. This
case would be useful for those who need to make
frequent notes. It sells for $59.99 .
The Boogie Board is a clever technology, but be sure
you have a specific need for it before you make this
All models come with a stylus, stylus clip, attachable
magnets, cleaning cloth and user guide.
Page 3
Review: Page MeUp
By Bob van Lier
rom time to time, the mailbox at receives some potentially interesting offers. An offer a few weeks ago was from
the publisher of Kinematic, the 2D and 3D animation
tool. The publisher, SoftoBe is piloting a new tool
called PageMeUp. The software is a simple tool for
mocking up e-books or websites. The user creates a
series of text or image boxes, and populates them
with text or pictures and arranges them on one or
multiple pages.
Each item or text
within a box can
be linked to internal or external
pages, and the
entire file can be
saved as a website, e-book, pdf,
a series of tiff or
PNG images. The
software is not
really a substitute for coding
a website either
by hand or using
a WYSIWIG tool
such as Dreamweaver or Flux,
but it can be
used to create
quick mock-ups
for a designer to
with a web developer the appearance and general feel of a proposed website. Similarly, the product can be used to
paste together an eBook to share with a developer.
The software is on sale for $24.99 US and for what it
does, this is a fair price. I was able with no instruction
or manual (none are available at this time) to recreate the ApplePickers home page for June in about
15 minutes.
In its 1.0.2 beta release there are still some rough
edges on how it works but most apparent capabilities appear to be implemented. For example, words
in a box arranged horizontally, with external links attached to each word did not work, yet when a similar
box was arranged vertically with words separated
with line breaks, the individual links worked correctly. Saving the file, quitting the program and restarting it resolved the problem.
The product excels
at using color
palettes and has
a wide variety of
built in palettes
to choose from.
Color output can
be translated to
CYMK format, but
I’m not sure there
is a rationale for
this because it is
unlikely anyone
would use this
program to output
to a color offset
printer. Nevertheless they are there
for the choosing.
In conclusion,
PageMeUp is an
easy to use program to quickly assemble a complex
document containing text, images, and external links
and to arrange these objects in any way desired. The
output can be used to communicate the appearance of the desired end product, but it is not really a
substitute for creating finished websites or eBooks at
this time.
Page 4
Six Useful Apple Accessories
by Josh Centers
here are endless mountains of accessories for
your Apple products, and, let’s be honest, most
are junk. If you’ve been in the Apple world for
any length of time, you’ve probably accumulated
a closet full of iPhone cases, adapter cables, keyboards, screen protectors, and other bric-a-brac.
After over a year of being a professional technology
writer, I’ve amassed far more than my fair share of
crud, but I have found six gizmos that truly do improve my everyday Apple experience.
Skiva USBLink Duo 2-in-1 Cable – The Lightning
port found in Apple’s newer iPhones, iPods, and
iPads is great,
providing quick
charging and unidirectional insertion. But as with
many things Apple,
it’s nonstandard.
Most devices from
other companies,
such as Amazon’s
Kindles and Android phones, and
even iPhone battery packs and iPad keyboard cases,
charge using a micro USB plug.
If you’re primarily an Apple household, it might
not make much sense to keep a micro USB cable
plugged in all the time. That’s where Skiva’s ingenious USBLink Duo 2-in-1 Cable comes in handy.
On the surface, it appears to be a normal one-meter
Lightning cable, but when you remove the cap, a
micro USB plug is revealed underneath. The USBLink
Duo 2-in-1 retails for $15.99, but availability is limited.
MagCozy -- Speaking of proprietary Apple cables,
do you have one of those MagSafe to MagSafe 2
converters to use your older Apple power supplies
with newer MacBooks? That adapter is tiny, and easily lost, which is where MagCozy comes in.
Similar to the design of the aforementioned Skiva
cable, the MagCozy
tethers the MagSafe 2 adapter
to your MagSafe
cable, whether it’s
a T-style or L-style.
You can attach and
detach the adapter
at any time, but it
remains secured to your cable — and out of your
couch cushions. The MagCozy comes in seven colors
(including Glow in the Dark), and costs $9.99 for two.
Lenmar Meridian -- I wouldn’t want to use one all
the time, but a battery case for your iPhone is handy
to have when traveling and in case of
Before I left for Macworld/iWorld 2014,
I picked up the Lenmar Meridian iPhone
5 Power Case ($89
list; $65 at Amazon),
which came recommended by The Wirecutter. It’s about half the price of the popular Mophie
Juice Pack Plus, and has a beefier battery — 2,300
mAh versus the Juice Pack’s 2,100 mAh.
The few times I’ve had to use it, the Lenmar Meridian
has served me well, giving me a full 24 hours of battery life without a full recharge, and without being
too obtrusive. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit the iPhone
iSlip Lite – The first time I saw the iSlip Lite from
Cooper Product, I found myself asking, “What the
heck is this thing?” It’s an elastic band with microfi-
Page 5
The MOS retails for $19.95 for the plastic versions
and $39.95 for aluminum. A set of three extra cable
ties sells for $5.00.
Nimblstand – Do you struggle with finding a place
for your iPad and/or iPhone on your desk? The Nimblstand is an innovative solution. It’s a plastic stand
ber on one side. The idea is that you wrap it around
your iPad’s case, then take it off to clean your screen.
That sounded lame, until I figured out a better way
to use it. Slide the iSlip Lite over the middle panel of
your iPad’s Smart Cover, with the elastic facing out,
then fold the Smart Cover into a triangle. The flat
side of the triangle is now a cleaning surface, turning your Smart Cover into a big fingerprint eraser for
your iPad. The iSlip Lite costs $5.99, and comes in a
variety of colors and patterns, if that floats your boat.
Magnetic Organization System – If you house your
MacBook on your desk, as I do, you probably also
have to deal with the annoyance of your cables falling behind your desk when you unplug them.
The Magnetic Organization System (MOS) is a clever
gadget that attaches to your desk via suction (or to a
wall with an included adhesive circle). Inside, there’s
a magnet that latches onto the ends of USB and
DisplayPort cables, keeping them from dropping to
the floor.
For nonmagnetic
such as
the MOS
with three
cable ties
that you can attach to make them cling.
that attaches to your Apple Wireless Keyboard, with
a slot that can hold an iPad in landscape orientation,
or an iPad and iPhone together in portrait orientation.
Another interesting use for the Nimblstand is as a
kind of easel for drawing on your iPad. If you turn the
Nimblstand so the keyboard is facing away from you,
the iPad is at an ideal angle for drawing. To this end,
the Nimblstand features a slot to hold a stylus and a
hole to hold a stylus upright.
Much as I like it, I have two minor reservations about
the Nimblstand. First, I wish it were aluminum instead of plastic, which feels cheap and clashes with
the keyboard’s aesthetics. Second, the Nimblstand
comes with a couple of adhesive foam blocks to attach inside its slot to accommodate the thinner bezel
of the iPad Air. Having to stick little foam blocks to
the stand feels kludgy.
The Nimblstand retails for $39.99 by itself, or for
$56.99, you can buy one bundled with a Wacom
Bamboo stylus.
Do you have a favorite Apple accessory that you use
every day? Tell us about it in the comments!
Page 6
Reprinted from TidBITS#1230/07-Jul-2014; reuse
governed by Creative Commons license.
iTunes Pass: How to Buy iTunes Store Credit via Passbook
by Josh Centers
e previously reported that Apple was testing the new iTunes Pass service in Japan
(see “Apple Testing iTunes Pass in Japan,”
15 July 2014). The service, which lets you purchase
iTunes Store credit in a retail Apple Store via Passbook, is now available in the United States.
With it you’ll be able to load up an iTunes account
with funds you can use to buy iOS and Mac apps,
iTunes music and videos, and books from the iBooks
Store. We see two primary use cases for iTunes Pass,
both revolving around iTunes Store accounts without credit cards already associated.
To add iTunes Pass to your Passbook app, open the
iTunes Store app on your iPhone or iPod touch (this
won’t work on the iPad, likely because it doesn’t have
the Passbook app), scroll down to the bottom, tap
the Apple ID button, and tap View Account.
Enter your iTunes password, if prompted, then scroll
down and tap Add iTunes Pass to Passbook. You’ll be
presented with the iTunes Pass to verify that it’s been
You could set this up on a child’s iPhone or iPod
touch, then either use that device in an Apple Store
or share its Passbook card with your iPhone (tap the
share icon on the card) so you could add money to it
in an Apple Store without needing the child’s device.
If you refuse to associate a credit card with your
iTunes Store account, iTunes Pass would enable you
Now, while in an Apple Store, open the iTunes Pass
card in Passbook, flag down a Specialist, tell her that
you’d like to add credit to your account, and show
her the card on your device. Presumably you’d then
need to pay for the credit with cash or a credit card.
If you want to delete iTunes Pass, open the card in
Passbook, tap the information button in the lowerright corner of the card, and tap Delete in the upperright.
to buy iTunes Store credit with cash in an Apple
Store. (More generally, it would be good for cash-oriented cultures, but we suspect most countries with
Apple Stores are well along in credit card adoption.)
Page 7
Reprinted from TidBITS#1232/21-Jul-2014; reuse
governed by Creative Commons license.
A Powerful Research Tool For Those Needing Arrest
Information And Mugshots
Posted by: InfoManager
eading the way for arrests and
mugshots online, JailBase has
released the iPhone version of their
well-liked mobile app. Helping you find
information about family members.
Researching past arrests. Seeing who’s been arrested
in your neighborhood. JailBase’s free mobile app fills
this need for many counties in the United States.
Following a successful
release on Android, JailBase
has released a powerful
research tool for those
needing arrest information
and mugshots. The popular
browse and search features
of the mobile app are industry leading. In addition,
JailBase is the first mobile
app to provide public mugshot searches by face, via
facial recognition technology.
“Our app is designed to
provide community members with easy and informative access to arrest information. We believe JailBase
is the best solution out there,” said JailBase Founder
James Richmond.
üü Search millions of arrest records
üü New records are added daily (in some cases
üü Add notifications and get notified when
someone you know gets arrested
Race, County and Date
üü Search by using facial recognition. Take a
photo and we will search for arrest matches
JailBase’s main business is its online website of
arrest information. The service collects thousands
of public arrests records and mugshots a day from
many counties in the country. Centered around open
access and accountability,
this arrest information
(including the source) is
made freely available to
the public. This free service is primarily supported
by online advertisements.
JailBase also provides a
free opt out service for the
arrested individual.
JailBase provides timely,
free, and accurate arrest
information to families,
friends and victims of
arrested individuals.
Founded in 2010, they are
known for the transparency, reliability, and speed
of their arrest information
services. For more information, visit JailBase online.
Device Requirements: iOS requirement: 7.0 or later ~
Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Optimized for iPhone 5. ~ 8.1 MB ~ Language: English
JailBase – Arrests and Mugshots 1.0.2 is available
for free and available through the App Store in the
News category. Category: News, business, reference,
ÜÜ JailBase – Arrests and Mugshots
ÜÜ Face Recognition
ÜÜ JailBase – Arrests and Mugshots Screenshot
üü Browse recent arrests and filter by Gender,
Page 8
Mac Thunderbolt Docks: Belkin Versus the Clones
by Julio Ojeda-Zapata
or many of us, I might paraphrase Wallis Simpson’s saying as “You can never be too rich, too
thin, or have too many ports.” As such, using a
port-poor Apple portable can be a pain in the posterior.
MacBook Air users have it particularly bad with just
one Thunderbolt port (compared to two on MacBook Pro models) and no HDMI port (there’s one on
the MacBook Pro with Retina Display). No Macintosh
laptop has more than two USB ports. An Ethernet
port? Don’t be a silly.
of smaller Thunderbolt docks that are essentially the
same as each other. That is because the vendors are
working off one hardware design and adding minor
variations. A number of other dock-like Thunderbolt
devices are available, too. This is all great given how
maddeningly sparse the selection of Thunderbolt
peripherals used to be.
One important note: All the docks I tested are based
on the original Thunderbolt spec, so Thunderbolt 2
devices plugged into the peripherals will perform at
only Thunderbolt 1 speeds.
Thunderbolt docks are a solution to this problem.
They turn one Thunderbolt port into two, and add a
variety of other ports such as USB, Ethernet, and audio. This greatly increases your expansion capability,
with the option to charge and sync iOS devices via
the USB ports, hook up speakers and microphones,
make networking fast and reliable via a physical connection, add storage and external displays, and so
Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock – This large, but
elegantly designed, gadget offers a trio of USB 3.0
ports, a FireWire 800 port, a gigabit Ethernet port, a
headphone port, and a microphone port along with
Expansion options do not end there. Thunderbolt
is designed for daisy-chaining up to six devices per
port, making it
possible to string
together multiple
Thunderbolt devices (assuming all
but the last in the
chain also have
dual Thunderbolt
ports). At one
point I went nuts
and daisy-chained
three Thunderbolt docks together. It totally works.
If you need to attach FireWire 800 storage devices to
a new Mac, this is the dock for you, given that only
the Mac mini and the 13-inch MacBook Pro (without
Retina Display) still include FireWire 800 ports, and
those are likely to disappear soon. The FireWire port
in the Thunderbolt Express Dock worked well for me,
as did all the other ports.
The Thunderbolt docks I tested using a MacBook Air
are attractive and reasonably unobtrusive — and
therefore handy desk units — but I would not characterize any as particularly portable, especially since
you’d also have to lug around a bulky power brick.
I tested a Belkin version that is a bit of a beast but
very elegant and versatile, along with an assortment
two Thunderbolt ports. At $200, or $100 off its original price, it’s a bargain, too.
With no HDMI port, my main external-display option
is Mini DisplayPort, which coexists with Thunderbolt
(a Thunderbolt port is also a Mini DisplayPort port,
but not the other way around). I found a DisplayPort
monitor, and used one of its full-size DisplayPort
ports and a DisplayPort-to-Mini DisplayPort cable for
connecting to the dock.
Thunderbolt docks can be used with external displays, just as if these were connected directly to the
Macs. The Belkin dock, however, lacks one common
means for linking up a display: HDMI. An alternative
technology, DisplayPort, is supported.
DisplayPort connections occur in one of two ways,
via full-size DisplayPort ports (like the ones found on
Page 9
my monitor) or smaller Mini DisplayPort variations.
As it happens, the Thunderbolt ports on the Belkin
dock and all other Thunderbolt ports double as Mini
DisplayPort ports. So, to hook my monitor to the
dock, I scrounged up a DisplayPort-to-Mini DisplayPort cable, with the big end going into the display,
and the smaller prong plugging into the dock.
no FireWire 800 ports.
This arrangement worked fine, but revealed a problem: I couldn’t use my display and an external drive
at the same time, since I had only one free Thunderbolt port on the dock for either, and no second
Thunderbolt port on the drive for daisy chaining
purposes. To use one of the drives, I had to unplug
the display. That was annoying, but not the end of
the world.
HDMI on each dock gave me another option: I could
The Belkin dock has a clever design. All ports are located on one of the device’s long sides, and you can
point that part away from you to reduce visual clutter (which is soothing for this OCD sufferer). You can
then feed only the cords you need through a rubbersheathed canal cut into the dock bottom, and out a
single orifice in the front.
Attack of the Clones – When I stacked a bunch of
other Thunderbolt docks, I noticed something weird:
Cosmetic touches aside, the gizmos are identical.
They have all the same ports in all the same locations, and their power supplies are even compatible.
What was going on here?
One of the dock makers cleared this up for me: “The
docks are all based on the same Intel reference design,” he
Elgato’s Thunderbolt Dock, and StarTech’s Thunderbolt Docking Station.
The docks each have three USB 3.0 ports, a gigabit
Ethernet port, a headphone port, and a microphone
port, along with those two Thunderbolt ports, but
Predictably, there was little difference in how the
docks worked. As with the Belkin dock, I could plug
my MacBook Air into one Thunderbolt port on each
dock, with the DisplayPort monitor connected to the
use that port for my monitor, while using one of the
Thunderbolt ports for my
Mac and the other for an
external drive. But there’s
a problem: the display’s
resolution maxes out at
1080p or 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, which is great for a
big-screen TV, but not great for a desktop display.
Going the Mini DisplayPort route, I got 2,560 by
1,400 pixels.
Unlike the Belkin dock, which is big enough for all
of its ports to be positioned on one long edge, the
three dock clones put a trio of ports — audio out,
audio in, and one of their three USB ports — on the
front. This looks understated and elegant.
In terms of styling, the units run the gamut. The
CalDigit model is brushed aluminum in its entirety,
matching Apple’s notebooks. The StarTech model
has my least-favorite aesthetic with shiny black
plastic along the top and bottom, and light-colored
metal along all the edges. The Elgato is the opposite,
with light-colored metal wrapping around the unit’s
longer axis, and black front and back where all the
ports go — I find this more attractive than StarTech’s
CalDigit claims its all-aluminum design “helps with
heat dissipation.”
The docks, as noted, have minor feature differences.
StarTech’s dock includes a stand for those wanting to
position the unit vertically.
Page 10
Elgato told me it “has fixed a nuisance bug of the reference design by eliminating the irritating buzzing
noise that the hardware makes when the Mac is no
longer connected to the Dock.”
The company
tosses in an Elgato Thunderbolt
Dock software
utility that ejects
all connected
storage devices
at once with a
click in the menu bar “so you can immediately see
when it’s safe to unplug your Thunderbolt Dock and
avoid potential data loss.”
The Desktop Dimension – Thunderbolt docks are
positioned as laptop accessories, but there’s nothing
keeping you from using them with a Thunderboltequipped desktop computer. Since Apple stubbornly
continues to make its iMac ports semi-inaccessible
by placing them all in the back, connecting a Thunderbolt dock to one of the computer’s two Thunderbolt ports can
make things
more convenient while adding additional
USB ports.
Then there’s
Apple’s Thunderbolt Display,
which doubles as a Thunderbolt dock.
The display, intended for users of Thunderbolt-capable Apple notebooks such as the MacBook Air and
MacBook Pro, incorporates a Thunderbolt cable for
connecting it to a laptop, along with one Thunderbolt port for expansion. With an Ethernet port, three
USB 2.0 ports, and a FireWire 800 port, the display is
essentially a Belkin Thunderbolt dock that incorporates a display. If you have a MacBook Pro with two
Thunderbolt ports, go crazy and plug in two of the
Thunderbolt displays. You know you want to.
This hot display is my dream Thunderbolt setup after
several Apple-loaner sessions over the product’s
three-year lifespan, but it’s a pricey one at $1,000.
Plus, a Retina Display model is surely coming down
the pipe sooner than later.
More Thunderbolt Docks – Dock-style Thunderbolt
peripherals extend beyond the ones I was able to
test for this article, but some don’t seem worth pur-
suing while others fit more-specialized needs.
Matrox’s DS1 dock does not seem like a good deal
at $250 because it has only one Thunderbolt port
(along with one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, an
Ethernet port, and audio in and out).
Henge’s Apple notebook docks ($70 to $119) also
incorporate Thunderbolt capability. You drop a
MacBook Pro or MacBook Pro with Retina Display
vertically into one of the docks, with integrated
Thunderbolt plugs hooking into the notebooks’
corresponding ports.
The docks then provide
Thunderbolt ports of their
own so you’re not out any
expansion capability.
Sonnet’s Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock means
business with a couple of Thunderbolt 2 ports along
with dual eSATA ports, four USB 4.0 ports, dual audio
inputs, dual audio outputs, one gigabit Ethernet port
and a FireWire 800 port, plus built-in hard drive and
optical (DVD-burning or Blu-ray) drive, at $400 to
$650 depending on specs. What, no beer dispenser?
If the eSATAcompatible
Echo 15 is
overkill for
you, but you
want eSATA
connectivity, Kanex’s $80 Thunderbolt to eSATA +
Page 11
Thunderbolt Docks (continued)
USB 3.0 Adapter may be exactly what you need. As
its name suggests, the compact gadget incorporates
a Thunderbolt cord along with an eSATA port for
plugging in an eSATA drive. It also has a single USB
3.0 port.
Kanex also offers a Thunderbolt-to-gigabit-Ethernet
adapter (shown in the image below).
Akitio’s Thunder Dock is another compact Thunderbolt dock, though apparently based on a design
different from the one used by CalDigit, Elgato, and
StarTech. This unit, which looks a bit like a compact
portable hard drive, builds in two Thunderbolt ports,
two eSATA ports, one FireWire 800 port, and two
USB 3.0 ports in a “rugged aluminum case.” Given
what it offers, the
$269 price tag
seems more than
reasonable. Cable
placement seems
awkward with ports
on three of the
four dock edges,
Which Dock Would I Pick? – I like the Belkin dock’s
cable-managing design the best, though it is on the
bulky side. Its FireWire 800 compatibility comes in
handy, too, since I have a number of such storage
devices. I’ve been slowly phasing out that old storage technology, though, so I’m inclined to go with
one of the dock clones with HDMI capability, which
the Belkin dock lacks. One other Belkin ding: A Thunderbolt cable isn’t included.
Picking among the clones, I’m inclined to show a bit
of brand loyalty and go with Elgato since I’ve been
happily using a bunch of that company’s products —
TV-tuning dongles, SSD storage, Bluetooth keychain
fobs, video-capture peripherals — for years.
Also, Elgato’s price is just right. For $230 via the
online Apple Store you get the dock along with a
Thunderbolt cable. The CalDigit model costs only
$200, but that doesn’t include a Thunderbolt cable.
The StarTech model with a bundled cable is $250, or
$20 more than the Elgato dock.
Since the dock clones are all but identical, though,
they are all fine products. Keep tabs on the makers’
sites for price fluctuations, and pounce if any of the
docks sees a temporary or permanent price drop.
You’re golden regardless.
Akitio’s Thunder Dock has me intrigued, too, with a
seemingly killer blend of Thunderbolt, FireWire 800,
USB 3.0 and eSATA (but zero Ethernet) in a compact
package. I hope to get a look at this product soon.
Reprinted from TidBITS#1231/14-Jul-2014; reuse
governed by Creative Commons license.
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