Review: CalDigit’s Mac hub Thunderbolt Station 2 competes on pricing, size, and build quality

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Despite USB 3.0’s growing popularity with consumers, Thunderbolt remains a viable alternative for professional users, particularly video makers willing to pay a premium for guaranteed high speeds. Over the past year, several Thunderbolt 2 hubs have come to market — boxes with one Thunderbolt 2 connection to a computer, one for a Thunderbolt accessory, and multiple ports to connect USB, audio, video, and Ethernet accessories. The idea: keep all of your gear hooked up to the hub, then use a single cable to connect it all to your Mac.

Known for large, heavy, professional-grade Mac accessories, CalDigit has just released Thunderbolt Station 2 ($199), which squeezes the same functionality offered by Belkin’s $300 Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock HD and Elgato’s $230 Thunderbolt 2 Dock (review) into a smaller, denser-feeling enclosure, at a lower MSRP — sort of. In reality, Thunderbolt Station 2 has some very specific benefits and one limitation that place it on par with its competitors, making the choice between them a more personal decision…

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Mac Pro monitor review: The best 4K & UHD monitors for Mac

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So Apple didn’t release a 4K (or 5K) standalone Retina display alongside the new 5K iMac, but you can’t hold off any longer on a shiny new display for your Mac Pro. I found myself in the same predicament not too long ago and decided to put a number of displays to the test in recent months. 4K might offer 4x the resolution of your standard 1080p display, but for the short time they’ve been around, they’ve also cost about 4x as much as the alternatives. The good news: There are a few Mac Pro compatible 4K displays (and UHD alternatives) finally starting to hit more reasonable price points just as recent OS X updates fix some issues early adopters first had with the higher resolution displays.

I’ve been testing Mac Pro compatible displays from Dell, Sharp, Samsung, LG, and others that are officially supported by Apple, and put together a list of my thoughts and top picks for those planning on picking up a new Mac Pro this holiday season. Despite my tests being done mostly on a new, stock Mac Pro, these picks stand for Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook users as well.

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‘It’s been way too long': Apple sends out invites for Thursday, October 16th iPad & Mac event

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It’s happening: Apple has just announced a keynote address for Thursday, October 16th to take place at the Town Hall auditorium on its Infinite Loop Campus in Cupertino, California. Invitations to select members of the media and special guests indicate that the event will, as always, begin at 10 AM Pacific time/1 PM Eastern Time. News of the October 16th date broke last week. We’ll be providing full, live coverage on 9to5Mac.com of the event’s proceedings. Here’s everything we’re expecting Apple to discuss at the event:

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New reversible USB Type C (rumored for 12-inch MacBook) will offer full DisplayPort functionality

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The next-generation USB “Type C” standard that became available to manufacturers last month will also offer a “DisplayPort Alternate Mode”, enabling the new USB cables to “deliver full DisplayPort audio/video (A/V) performance, driving monitor resolutions of 4K and beyond, SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1) data and up to 100 watts of power–over a single cable.” That means new USB cables that adopt the new slimmer Type-3 standard can essentially also work as a full-fledged DisplayPort cable. The announcement was made today by The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA), which worked with the USB 3.0 Promoter Group to offer the functionality: Read more

DisplayPort 1.3 announced w/ support for upcoming 5K displays, enhanced 4K performance

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) announced today that it’s introducing the latest DisplayPort technology that brings support for upcoming 5K monitors and more. DisplayPort 1.3 for audio and video increases the standard to a maximum link bandwidth of 32.4 Gbps and as a result supports 5K displays with resolutions of 5120 x 2880 on a single cable without compression methods. In addition, users will notice enhanced performance for 4K displays in multi-monitor setups over a single DisplayPort connection: Read more

OS X Yosemite planned for late Oct. as Apple preps 4K desktop & 12-inch Retina MacBook

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While iOS 8 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch is set for a September launch, Apple is planning to bring its next-generation Mac software, OS X Yosemite, into the wild a month later, in October, according to several sources. Apple plans to continue releasing OS X Yosemite Developer Previews every two to three weeks until a final Developer Preview is seeded on September 29th, according to the people. Apple is then expected to finish up work on Yosemite in early October and release a golden master build around October 10th, the sources said. Apple is also finishing up preparations to release a version of OS X Yosemite beta tomorrow to the first one million people who signed up for the public beta.

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Review: Samsung’s U28D590D 28-inch 4k monitor finally brings quality 4k at an affordable price

Ever since the Mac Pro was released in December, we’ve faced an onslaught of 4k displays. We reviewed Seiki’s budget offering last year, and while we liked it overall, it did have more than its fair share of set backs. For instance, you could only use the full 4k resolution at 30Hz, which meant that there would be noticeable lag when using the display as a monitor. Despite the low refresh rate, the display was still a great deal at its then $450 price point (now down to $390) and truly got us excited for the potential of 4k. At CES this year, we also saw a variety of 4k displays, some of which were priced for budget-minded customers, and some of which were high-end. Noticeably missing from CES, however, was Apple’s frenemy supplier/competitor Samsung.

Samsung, at the end of May, unveiled its take on an affordable 4k display. Samsung’s U28D590D is a 28-inch 4k monitor that supports full 4k resolution at 60Hz via a DisplayPort 1.2 connection. There are also two HDMI ports, but they’ll only do 4k at 30Hz, like the Seiki. The big selling point of the Samsung monitor, aside from doing 4k at 60Hz, is that it costs just $646 on Amazon. This puts it far below any currently available 4k monitor with 60Hz capabilities. I purchased the Samsung U28D590D on Amazon while it was priced at $666 and have been using it as my primary display for the past week. How does it compare to the Seiki? Is 4k all it’s hyped up to be? Let’s discuss.

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Opinion: Will the spring launch of Amazon/Nexus/Apple TV signal the beginning of the end of live, broadcast TV?

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Streaming TV is heating-up. We’re expecting a new Apple TV box to be announced in April, Amazon looks set to launch its own box in March and Google is reputed to be not far behind with a Nexus-branded box.

So-called cord-cutting – people who give up their cable TV subscriptions in favor of streaming content over the web – is growing in popularity. Mobile TV viewing on tablets is increasingly common.

All of which makes me wonder whether we’re witnessing the beginning of the end of live TV … ?  Read more

CES 2014: New era of inexpensive 4K monitors from Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Seiki ushered in

With the new Mac Pro capable of powering three 4k displays, new MacBook Pros with Thunderbolt 2 and 4K HDMI 1.4 in many hands and Apple taking its sweet time to release its own monitor, an affordable 4k display is something many people are searching out right now. ASUS, at the Consumer Electronics Show, has just unveiled a new 28-inch 4k monitor that will retail for just $799. Currently, ASUS’ 31.5-inch 4k offering comes in at over $3,000, and while the price difference between the two is major, there doesn’t appear to be a gap in features (via Engadget).

ASUS’s 28-inch 4k monitor will pack a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, just like its larger sibling. As far as ports go, we’re looking at one DisplayPort and one MHL-capable HDMI port. The monitor has a fully rotatable design, as well as a quick 1ms response time.

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New Retina MacBook Pros can drive 4K displays at 60Hz – when running Windows, Mac OS needs new drivers

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Tests by French site Mac4Ever.com found that current model Retina MacBook Pro machines can use their Thunderbolt 2 connections to drive the Sharp PN-K321 4K display at 60Hz when running Windows 8.1 with the latest NVidia drivers, rather than the 30Hz possible with OS X. This suggests that OS X will be able to do the same when Apple updates the rMBP video/Thunderbolt 2 drivers.

While 30Hz is good enough for movies, our own Seth Weintraub found on his bargain Seiki that it gives a poor experience when scrolling webpages, and is of course completely unusable for games. 60Hz, in contrast, gives a smooth experience when using a computer. The mystery had been why the latest Retina MacBook Pros, with Thunderbolt 2 support, were limited to 30Hz when the specs should have made them capable of double this – and the video drivers appear to be the answer …

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