Belkin showed off its Thunderbolt Express Dock at the Macworld/iWorld 2013 Expo in San Francisco. Like other Thunderbolt-compatible accessories, this dock commands a premium price.
As its name suggests, the Thunderbolt Express Dock employs the Thunderbolt port found on current Macs. The dock allows users to connect Ethernet, FireWire 800, three USB 3.0, headphone, microphone and Thunderbolt cables to a Mac through a single Thunderbolt cable.
The silver and black styling of the Belkin Dock blend right in with MacBooks and other Apple gear.
A Belkin representative demonstrated the device on video for GottaBeMobile.
While there are two Thunderbolt ports on the back of Belkin’s dock, one will be occupied by the cable that connects the device to the Mac. The remaining port can be used to connect an additional Thunderbolt device, such as an external drive or Thunderbolt Display.
The Thunderbolt Express Dock is especially useful when paired with the 11″ or 13″ MacBook Air, both of which are too slim for a built-in Ethernet port and which have only two USB 3.0 ports. Apple sells Ethernet adapters for the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina Display, but they occupy a precious USB or Thunderbolt port when in use.
The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock nearly duplicates the back of Apple’s Thunderbolt Display, save for one important feature. While the Thunderbolt Display matches the dock’s FireWire 800, Ethernet and Thunderbolt ports, Apple’s $999 display doesn’t support USB 3.0. Instead, Apple’s display is stuck on the slower USB 2.0 standard. This is an important distinction for those who rely on USB 3.0 drives to handle large files. While the Thunderbolt standard is much faster, Thunderbolt drives are much more expensive than their USB 3.0 counterparts.
The Belkin Thunderbolt Express dock has a $299 MSRP and will be available for purchase towards the end of this month. The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock was originally introduced at CES 2013 in Las Vegas last month.