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Belkin Officially Begins Shipping Thunderbolt Express Dock

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.
Designed to be an easy and powerful way to increase productivity and take advantage of Thunderbolt technology, Belkin’s Thunderbolt Express Dock allows creative professionals the ability to edit films in full HD 1080p, and transfer volumes of data in seconds at bidirectional 10Gbps channels. That is up to 20 times faster than with USB 2.0 and up to 12 times faster than with FireWire 800. The Thunderbolt Express Dock uses a single high-speed connection to create ultrafast data transfers between your laptop and up to eight other devices, including FireWire, Ethernet, USB, and enables users to daisy-chain up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.
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."

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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.

Top Rated Comments

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13 months ago
$300.....that's insane.
Rating: 10 Positives
13 months ago
That is just too expensive for a docking station
Rating: 10 Positives
13 months ago

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?


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.
Rating: 5 Positives
13 months ago

Way overpriced and under-ported. A couple of USB3 and an Ethernet? Big whoop.


Plus 2 Thunderbolt ports and a FireWire 800, did you miss them?
Rating: 5 Positives
13 months ago
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.
Rating: 4 Positives
13 months ago
Comparing it to the other Thunderbolt docking solutions:
[LIST]
[*]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.
[/LIST]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.

For that price I'd want 7 USB3 ports and a built in DVD or BD burner!

Look at the Sonnet, although that only has 4 USB ports, at least it has the optical drive and a couple of eSata ports.
Rating: 4 Positives
13 months ago
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.
Rating: 4 Positives
13 months ago

Designed to be an easy and powerful way to increase productivity and take advantage of Thunderbolt technology, Belkin’s Thunderbolt Express Dock allows creative professionals* the ability to edit films in full HD 1080p, and transfer volumes of data in seconds at bidirectional 10Gbps channels.


*Not compatible with current gen (2010) Mac Pro's.

the irony
Rating: 4 Positives
13 months ago

Because everyone wants two or three hubs...

My take is that those complaining would barely even utilize this dock completely, they just want more. Everyone wants more these days, doesn't matter if they need it. Just more more more.


It's the American way ;)
Supersize me!

and this is the consequence
Rating: 4 Positives
13 months ago
Way overpriced and under-ported. A couple of USB3 and an Ethernet? Big whoop.
Rating: 4 Positives

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