Belkin Electrifies Your Mac with Thunderbolt 2 Dock


Mac users love their machines—they may try to convince you that the Apple operating system is the best there ever was, so much easier and more intuitive than PC operating systems. However, the lack of expansion options on Mac computers is not one to ignore, and can be a sore point of contention between the two camps. Apple computers are not made to be modified easily, and even though it is possible, don’t you wish there were a way you could add more to your Apple computer without opening it up?

Well, here comes the Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock HD, with simple ways to expand your Apple ecosystem without opening the hood. Although it matches the signature sleek brushed-aluminum look and feel of other Apple products aesthetically, the Thunderbolt 2 Express also works with any Windows-based Ultrabook™, laptop, or desktop with a Thunderbolt port.

So how many ports are on the Express Dock HD? With a USB 3.0 port and 3.5mm audio jack on the front of the unit, and two USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, an HDMI port, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, and another 3.5mm audio jack in the back, you could conceivably connect up to three USB devices, and daisy-chain four additional Thunderbolt devices. For Ultrabook or MacBook users, this means you can connect a plethora of devices to your dock, enjoy a wide variety of peripherals, and then simply unplug one cable as you leave for the day. When you return, all those extras will be waiting for you to plug that single cable back in—as simple as that.

If you’re wondering what the big deal about having a Thunderbolt 2 dock may be, let me enlighten you. Transferring large files over FireWire had your transfer speeds topping out at 800Mbps. eSATA made a jump with speeds of about 3Gbps. Along came USB 3.0, which offered an astonishing 5Gbps, meaning that conceivably, you could transfer a large file in just seconds (which is dependent on the speed of the device; a traditional hard drive will top out somewhere in the 120MBps range). When Thunderbolt was introduced last year, it boasted speeds of 10Gbps, and was the darling of all new Mac purchases. Thunderbolt 2 is 20Gbps of bi-directional transfer—that’s 25 times faster than FireWire, and four times faster than USB 3.0. And while that translates to around 1500 MB/s, you won’t see that in real life. Theoretical speeds (and debate about those speeds) aside, though, Thunderbolt carries both data and display signals over a single cable, so you can use Thunderbolt-enabled displays, and Thunderbolt offers support for 4K video.

Thankfully, the Express Dock HD is compatible with both Thunderbolt 2 and last-gen Thunderbolt ports, so you can use it with any Thunderbolt-enabled device. You can also connect two displays simultaneously—and one of the displays can be a 4K monitor—as long as one of the displays is Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 ready. If you know Thunderbolt technology, you know that non-Thunderbolt displays use the backward-compatible port as a Mini DisplayPort, and although you can have a display connect via the HDMI port, as well, you cannot have displays on the Mini Display Port and the HDMI port at the same time. And you can only connect one 4K display at a time (4K resolution is only currently supported on Mac OS X v10.10).

But Thunderbolt technology also lets you daisy-chain other Thunderbolt-enabled equipment, like external hard drives, monitors, servers, and more. You can add another four devices to the dock’s daisy chain for a total of five devices.

The Belkin Express HD Dock works with your iMac, MacPro, Mac mini, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Pro with Retina display. It also works with any PC laptop, Ultrabook, or desktop with a Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port. It includes a 3' Thunderbolt 2 cable (which is a pricey extra if you had to purchase it separately) and a power adapter.

If you’re looking for a peripheral that’s both useful and productive for your new Mac, start with a dock that can effectively let you expand your repertoire without sacrificing your needs. The last thing you want is a brand new shiny laptop with a super-fast Thunderbolt 2 port for which you have to constantly exchange cables. Repeated unplugging and plugging in of that Thunderbolt 2 cable will eventually result in lots of wear and tear. Protect that port with a single connection that will open up many more connections in the future.