Belkin recently launched its second-generation Express Dock, which now comes with Thunderbolt 2 capabilities. I got the chance to play around with it and see if it’s a product worth having in your home or work office.
The nice thing about MacBooks is that they’re really portable, but whenever you want to dock it to your workstation at the office or at home and hook it up to a monitor and other peripherals, it can get a little tricky.
Personally, as a MacBook Pro user who is constantly docking and undocking my laptop at my desk, I wanted to see if Belkin’s new Express Dock would make the whole process easier.
First off, let’s explain what the Express Dock’s goal is in the first place. It has two main purposes: To make it way easier to plug all of your accessories and peripherals into your MacBook, and to offer way more ports than your MacBook, especially for MacBook Air users.
With that said, the new Express Dock works fairly well. It takes all those cables that you have to plug into your MacBook and turns it into one Thunderbolt 2 cable. For me, I had to deal with an external monitor, a USB hub, Ethernet, and my speakers. That’s not a whole lot of cables by any means, but it gets a little tiring when I’m constantly plugging and unplugging everything.
Instead, all I have to plug and unplug is one Thunderbolt 2 cable.
The Express Dock HD includes a bevy of ports, including two USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 2 ports (one of which is used to plug the dock into your Mac), a full-size HDMI port, Ethernet, and a headphone jack. Furthermore, there’s another USB 3.0 port on the front of the dock, along with a combo headphone/microphone jack.
Compared to the original Express Dock from over a year ago, the new dock ditches the FireWire ports and adds the front-access USB and audio ports for convenience.
The design of the Express Dock is made to blend in with the MacBook, as it comes with the same brushed aluminum finish, so there shouldn’t be any worries about the dock not fitting in with the rest of your Apple-centric setup.
The dock does need to be plugged into a power outlet, and it comes with a big ‘ole power brick to give it as much juice as it needs, but this allows the dock to charge up your USB devices even when it’s not plugged into your Mac.
The dock works as advertised and I didn’t have much problem setting it. However, I am noticing that Ethernet speeds aren’t fully what they could be if I had the Ethernet cable plugged directly into my MacBook. I noticed ever-so-slower network speeds when streaming videos from my NAS, but USB 3.0 speeds seemed to be on par with what I expected.
While the new Express Dock will work for desktop Macs like the iMac and Mac Pro, it’s essentially made for MacBooks, which don’t have a lot of options when it comes to ports, especially the MacBook Air. If you use a MacBook as your daily driver and want more ports, the Express Dock is a really convenient option for that. Simply plug the dock into your MacBook using the Thunderbolt port and you’ll instantly have more ports that you can take advantage.
Of course, it is worth mentioning that you’ll need a newer MacBook that has Thunderbolt 2 capabilities in order to take full advantage of the new Express Dock, but it will still work with older MacBooks.
The new Express Dock HD is priced at $299, which is a little steep for some users, but the price of convenience usually doesn’t come cheap anyway. $299 will allow you to dock and undock your MacBook way quicker and easier than before, and it’ll give you extra ports. If that’s not worth a few hundred dollars to you, then hopefully Santa will give you something special for Christmas.