Review: $90 Kanex SimpleDock is a beautiful USB 3/Gigabit Ethernet Mac dock, without expensive Thunderbolt

kanex-simpledock

We’ve reviewed a fair bit of Thunderbolt docks for Mac here and one thing remains constant: The starting prices range well over $200 (Belkin’s a deal at $150) and that’s before you buy an expensive $30 Thunderbolt cable. The question is: Do you really need Thunderbolt to have a quality/usable dock for your MacBook? Can you get almost all of what you need just from USB 3?

Kanex sent me their $90 USB 3 SimpleDock a few months ago and I’ve put it through its paces ever since.  The first thing you’ll notice out of the box is that it is made extremely well, looks very ‘Apple’ and is substantial in weight. It doesn’t move when you plug in devices because of that weight and a rubberized bottom. On top, all you’ll see is a space that coincidentally fits an iPhone perfectly with a charger cable hole through the bottom. Around back, you’ll find 3 USB 3 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port as well as a 10W high powered ‘Charge-only’ port.

simpledock_top_wired

So you are getting 3 products in one here: An iOS device quick charger, a USB3->Gigabit Ethernet adapter and 3 port USB 3 hub. The question is: Is the SimpleDock worth the $90?

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Sonnet announces 15-port Echo Thunderbolt dock with built-in HDD/SSD & optical drive options

Sonnet-Echo-15-Thunderbolt-dock-station

The much-anticipated Belkin Thunderbolt Dock appears to be delayed once again unfortunately, missing its planned Q1 launch, despite taking pre-orders for the device in February after missing its original September launch date. While we’ve been recommending the popular Matrox Thunderbolt Docking station in the meantime, today Sonnet announced a new competitor in the space with the Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock.

The 15-port dock includes many of the ins and outs you’d expect: Two thunderbolt ports, four USB 3.0 ports, 3.5mm audio in and out (front and back), FireWire 800, Gigabit Ethernet, and two eSATA ports. However, there are two features this 15-port Thunderbolt docking station has that most others do not: extra space to install a 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA HDD or SSD and your choice of a built-in DVD or Blu-Ray drive:

the Echo 15 Thunderbolt dock has you covered—it includes your choice of DVD±RW drive, or Blu-ray Disc™ player (BD-ROM/8x DVD±RW). If you are a Mac user, you’ll also find that the included Blu-ray player software for OS X® is very handy, enabling you to watch Blu-ray movies on your computer or attached monitor.

The fast 6 Gb/s SATA interface supports an HDD at its maximum speeds, and an SSD at up to 380 MB/s… Best of all, the drive sits inside the Echo dock, so you don’t have to clutter your desk space with an external hard drive and its power brick and cable clutter to add more storage. Don’t feel like adding a drive yourself? Sonnet also offers the Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock equipped with a 2TB HDD, available exclusively through the Sonnet online store.

The Sonnet Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock is available to pre-order now in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico starting at $399 for a DVD drive and no built-in drive. The next model up comes with a built-in 2TB HDD for $499, while a Blu-ray drive and 2TB HDD brings it up to $549. Other options are also available through Sonnet’s website, and most models are expected to ship in Summer 2013.

Kanex adds 3 USB ports and Gigabit Ethernet to your MacBook with pocket-sized DualRole

We have played with and enjoyed a few products from Kanex in the past, and today the company showed off its latest USB 3.0 charging solution at Macworld with the DualRole. The product is a super lightweight and very portable bus-powered USB3 hub that packs three extra USB 3 ports and a Gigabit Ethernet adapter. That means you’ll be able to add a Gigabit Ethernet adapter to your Retina MacBook Pro or MacBook Air and have an extra three USB ports on hand.

9to5Mac went hands-on with the DualRole today during Macworld, and we definitely want one for ourselves. Anyone who travels knows how nice it is to connect via Ethernet when hotel Wi-Fi gets sketchy, and it’s certainly nice to be able to carry around an additional three USB 3.0 ports in your pocket at the same time. DualRole also provided an optional 5V power adapter to offer a little extra power to the USB ports, and the built-in cable tucks away nicely when not in use. DualRole is selling for $69 through the Kanex website, but it should also land next to the company’s lineup of other solid products on Amazon shortly.

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New base iMac: $1050, iPod touch $160, more

From 9to5Toys.com:

Today only, Buy.com via eBay Daily Deals has the 21.5″ iMac Core i5 base configuration for $1049.99 with free shipping. That matches Best Buy’s Black Friday price (but with Tax in fewer locations) and the lowest we’ve seen.

Buy.com also offers the base model 13″ MacBook Pro for $1049.99 with free shipping (Update:OVER).  MacConnection offers almost the same machine for $999.

MacMall offers a number of Closeouts on new, one generation old MacBook Airs and Pros (w/$50 rebate), below:

(Bonus: Best Buy has iPod Touch 8GB in white or black for $189 with a $30 Gift card.  Amazon ‘matches’ this with music giftcard.) Read more

Belkin unveils new Thunderbolt Express Dock at IDF

Belkin took a little bit of time today at IDF to show off their new Thunderbolt Express Dock that provides a selection of ports that mirror the new 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display, sans the $999 price point.

The accessory sports three USB ports, a Thunderbolt port, Firewire 800 port, and Gigabit Ethernet. Perhaps the dock could use some more of that Apple “mimimalism” – we’re sensing some wasted space being used here.

There is no word on pricing or availability as of yet, and Daily Tech reminds us we might still have to cough up $50 for a Thunderbolt cable. We’ll keep you updated when the device is officially announced. More Thunderbolt accessories here, another image after the break.
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