Way back in September 2011, Belkin quietly showed off a prototype of its Thunderbolt Express Dock, a desktop docking station offering users a broad array of connectivity options through a single Thunderbolt cable. By CES 2012, the product had evolved in design and received a September 2012 launch date with a $299 price tag.
By June of last year, Belkin had decided to add USB 3.0 and eSATA capabilities, at the cost of $100 price increase to $399.99. But as the September launch window came and went, Belkin pushed back the launch date to the first quarter of 2013.
With CES 2013 now underway, Belkin has officially announced further changes to the Thunderbolt Express Dock, removing eSATA compatibility and dropping the price back to $299.99. Belkin is still quoting a “Q1 2013″ launch, and Belkin representatives have told us that it should be closer to the early part of the quarter.
– Instant access to up to 8 desktop devices with one cable
– Cable-clutter-free design for a cleaner workstation
– 3 USB 3.0 ports
– 1 FireWire 800 port
– 1 Gigabit Ethernet port
– 1 3.5mm-out port
– 1 3.5mm-in port
– 2 Thunderbolt ports (1 upstream, 1 downstream for daisy-chaining up to 5 additional Thunderbolt devices)
Belkin’s Thunderbolt Express Dock can be compared to the DS1 from Matrox, which launched last month for $249. For an additional $50 compared to the DS1, the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock offers three USB 3.0 ports as opposed to a single USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports on the DS1.
Perhaps more importantly for some users, the Belkin dock also includes two Thunderbolt ports, allowing the device to support Thunderbolt passthrough for peripherals further down the chain. Matrox’s DS1 offers only a single Thunderbolt port, meaning that it must be placed at the end of a chain.