Third-Party Thunderbolt Docking Stations Remain Vaporware as Shipping Dates Pushed Back

More than a year after the debut of the Apple Thunderbolt Display, which incorporates a docking station function offering three USB ports, one Firewire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and a second Thunderbolt port to enable daisy chaining, consumers are still looking for a similar product in a cheaper, standalone format that forgoes the expensive display included in the Apple product.

Belkin seemed to be the first third-party company to be preparing a standalone Thunderbolt docking station, showing off its prototype in September 2011 and soon after noting that it planned to launch the product in "spring 2012". In January of this year, Belkin revealed a redesigned docking station prototype, announcing that it would ship in September and be priced at $299. And by June, Belkin had revised its docking station again, adding HDMI and eSATA capabilities as well as upgrading to USB 3.0 ports, but also bumping the price to $399.99.

belkin thunderbolt dock revised back
Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock

At the time, Belkin was sticking to its launch timeframe of September 2012, but the company has since quietly updated its site and revised its June press release to quote a launch in the first quarter of 2013. The reasons for the delays are unclear, but consumers who have already waited a year for the product to launch and who now have to wait three to six more months are undoubtedly becoming impatient.

Belkin is not the only peripheral manufacturer looking to launch a Thunderbolt docking station, however, with Matrox having announced its $249 DS1 back in early June. The DS1, which was introduced with DVI, Gigabit Ethernet, a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a USB 3.0 port, audio in/out ports, was also scheduled for a September 2012 launch and the lower pricing compared to the Belkin offering was viewed as potential advantage, particularly when Belkin raised the price of its redesigned dock by $100 just a few days later.

matrox ds1 hdmi rear
Matrox DS1/HDMI

But in a press release issued last week, Matrox announced that shipping on the DS1 is now scheduled for December 2012. In attempting to soften the blow of a delayed shipping target for the DS1, Matrox also announced that the device will be available in two versions, the original one with DVI out and a new version with HDMI out. Pricing is set at $249 for both versions.

Apple and Intel have touted Thunderbolt as a revolutionary new input/output technology, but adoption has been rather slow since the technology first appeared on the MacBook Pro in February 2011. High-end storage, camera, and video capture accessories have been the first to adopt Thunderbolt technology, even as Apple's Mac Pro desktop has yet to see it incorporated. Thunderbolt has begun filtering down into consumer class peripherals as pricing seems to have begun coming down, but it still appears that Apple and Intel have a ways to go if they hope to achieve their vision of Thunderbolt as the next-generation standard for connectivity.

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Top Rated Comments

NutsNGum Avatar
152 months ago
Blunderbolt.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Starship77 Avatar
152 months ago
And for another 500 bucks you can get a 27" screen thrown in......;)

And not only you can get it right now... you could get it one year ago! :rolleyes:

----------

Fail

Thunderbolt
Ping
Mobile Me
Siri
Passbook
Newsstand
Safari for PC

Half fail/half sucess

iMessage
iCloud
Photostream
iBooks
Lightning

Sucess/To be successful

iTunes
App Store
Safari for iPhones
Camera
Maps

I respectfully disagree.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kas23 Avatar
152 months ago
You know, the addition of the Thunderbolt port was very un-Apple of Apple. I surprised they didn't just eliminate the USB port when they introduced TB and sold us aTB-USB adaptor instead.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
baryon Avatar
152 months ago
What's so bloody complicated in building such a boring and basic thing as a hub? I mean this should be the type of cheap stuff you buy in a pound shop along with USB hubs and cheap SD card readers.

Cables should be getting more versatile, cheaper and easier to use, and not the exact opposite!

I'm sticking to my USB 2.0 and the hub I bought for £1 thankyouverymuch!

PS: Those who have the first computers that had Thunderbolt, your computers will soon go obsolete while you still hadn't even had a chance to connect anything to the Thunderbolt port. Just like the Mini DisplayPort.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PracticalMac Avatar
152 months ago
No clap of thunder here.

Its like FireWire all over again. Apple was slow to include, made only 2 products to use it, and it started to loose ground to a much lesser technology, USB.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
woodbine Avatar
152 months ago
This is pathetic.

400 bucks for this?

And what's with the thunderbolt connector in the front?

And for another 500 bucks you can get a 27" screen thrown in......;)
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)