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Style: Thunderbolt 1|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When Apple first announced 'Thunderbolt', you could when forgiven for questioning just how relevant this interface will be in the next decade. Afterall, if USB 3.0 already offers a speed upgrade from 2.0 and uses the same plug-socket, what incentives are there to make the transition?

Well, Thunderbolt has a few tricks up its fibre-optic sleeves, but you should also expect some compromises too.

Referring to the latter, I need not mention that a Thunderbolt cable isn't included with this Belkin Express Dock, meaning that if you want to get up and running out of the box, you will need to invest in the (pricey) cable just to connect the dock to your Mac. Although this is well advertised, it comes as something as a disappointment when you've already paid so much for this product; but there are genuine reasons with regards to licensing.

The dock itself is a beautiful piece of hardware, and is designed to look sleek next to any of the current generation Apple Mac's. Belkin are also self-congratulatory, reminding us that the dock was 'Designed in California... Assembled in China', a lá Apple's own backslapping. The aluminium casing is cool to touch and provides incredible durability to the device. It's also a lot smaller than the pictures suggest, so footspace is not a problem.

What you may be asking then is why you would purchase a dock, given that the Mac Mini, iMac and the upcoming Mac Pro all have a great selection of I/O built in. This is where Thunderbolt comes into its own, as you can 'daisy chain' devices onto each other all from the same specification. This allows the user to plug a wide range of peripherals into one seamless chain of Thunderbolt devices. Think of a line of people, all linking hands.

But this also draws attention to exactly the kind of computer you would want to lessen cable mess... the MacBook. Since the Thunderbolt Express connects to your computer via a single cable, you are essentially freeing yourself of having to plug multiple devices into the MacBook itself, making it easier to just connect/disconnect and put the computer away. And it works too - with a Time Machine HDD, external storage and ethernet adapter all plugged into the the Dock, you don't need to worry about tidying away cables.

Obviously you will still need to 'Eject' any mass storage devices on OS X, but the Dock itself requires no installation.

The rear of the dock has two Thunderbolt ports; one that is used to connect to your Mac (The cable can be tucked underneath the dock so that it trails from the front, which is nice) and the other that is used for daisy-chaining peripherals. Three USB 3.0 ports are also very welcome, along with the important FireWire port (Still serving its purpose for sound cards), Eithernet, Audio In, Out, and an AC adapter, which is included in the box.

If you are the owner of a MacBook, then you may wish to carefully consider your needs before purchasing this product. Whilst I can't recommend it enough based on the quality of the finish and the ease of use, it is a significant investment for something that will only free those users who depend on peripherals for their work. And how many peripherals are using Thunderbolt? At the moment, it's a minority.

But in short, this is a fine product from Belkin that although is being sold at a less-than-fine profit margin, has the potential to tidy up your workspace. The only thing missing is a MagSafe adapter, since the dock itself uses an AC power supply.
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VINE VOICEon 16 January 2014
Style: Thunderbolt 1|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've been using this as an expansion for my iMac after downgrading from a MacPro earlier in the year, it offers the perfect solution when it came to bridging the gap between a high-end, and mid-level Apple Mac.
If you need to expand your connectivity then this is the perfect solution. The Thunderbolt connection offers unmatched connectivity speed. I've been running several USB 3.0 drives from this dock as well as using the extra Thunderbolt connections for video editing on Avid platform, and experience no lag whatsoever, even when dealing with large, date hungry 1080 HD files.

It is also worth pointing out that this offer the addition of an audio line-in which does not come as standard with many Apple iMacs these days, so it has value beyond simple hub-connectivity.

The price tag may be an issue for many people, but this really does offer the perfect bridge between an entry level iMac, and a more expensive MacPro.
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on 14 September 2014
Superb addition to my 2011 iMac. If you haven't got USB3 on your Mac, but have Thunderbolt, you're really missing out. I almost upgraded by iMac simply to get USB3, but in the end decided to take the slightly cheaper option of buying a Thunderbolt Hub. From my research, the Belkin is the best one among the choices out there. It's a very stylish little box too. The benefits of USB3 if you use a lot of data (I'm a professional photographer - so shift huge amounts of image files daily) are huge. If you think FW800 is fast, then you'll be shocked when you try USB3, it's just SO much faster. For normal hard drive use, it is in reality as fast as Thunderbolt. It's only when you start using SSD's and RAID's that TB will pull ahead.

Superb addition to my iMac set-up. Sure, when I upgrade the iMac, it will become pretty redundant - although perhaps not. It's still a useful hub, that via one TB cable from the computer can act take the wires away from the back of the iMac and distribute them from another part of the desk. That in itself is pretty handy.
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Style: Thunderbolt 1|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Using the Belkin express dock is very handy for getting more and more modern connections from your computer. I have set it up on my desk at work and use it with my Macbook Air. Each morning connecting it to this dock (buy a cable as Belkin don't include one.)

The first and biggest step up for me was getting a gigabit network socket; I have been using one of my precious USB sockets to drive a network port which was considerably slower than the one on the dock.

Secondly the Docks 3x USB3 connectors are a big improvement on my Air's dual USB2 sockets. Belkin has compromised on them they arent as fast as the USB3 standard but still considerably faster than USB2 when using a USB3 device. Besides being speed limited the USB3 sockets are also power limited to 500mA which means you can't use it to fast charge your tablet but your phone is likely ok.

After the USB3 sockets you are left with a Firewire 800 socket that is becoming less useful thanks to USB3 being so much faster than USB2 and Thunderbolt replacing it at the high end. There are also headphone and microphone sockets and most importantly you still end up with a Thunderbolt socket as the express has two.

Connecting it to my computer was just a question of getting a cable and plugging the two together. Sadly the first thing you have to do is plug the dock into a power socket as Thunderbolt can't power the dock. Then get a Thunderbolt cable and plug it in; after that all the sockets just work. In use thunderbolt connectors get hot; which seems to be normal (there is a chip in there handling all the communication; but the express dock too got warm in use.

Its supremely practical and the build is excellent - it simplifies starting up in the morning to two connections; despite that for the price I wish Belkin had made a different more comprehensive product. I wish the dock were either wider and thinner so you can rest your laptop on it; or had a soft surface so you could rest charging phones on it as it stands its a handy dock for your computer but if you are going to use a power socket and take up that much desk space you really ought to do more.
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on 16 January 2014
Style: Thunderbolt 1|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
VALUE FOR MONEY - That clearly isn't your main concern if you're buying this beauty.

This item does what it says it does, and if you are in need of all those extra Thunderbolt slots it will perform brilliantly. Compared to my old USB 2.0 PC, the transfer speeds I get from this dock to my Mac is a revelation. It's basically 100mbps broadband compared to 56k dial-up. You'll never want to go back, and if you move multi-GB files around a lot, this will make your life soooo much easier.

However, first you need to get past that frankly EPIC price-tag. Then, you need to go get yourself a spare Thunderbolt cable as the greedy sods at Belkin didn't think to include one. These can be picked up relatively cheaply now (though still pricey compared to other computer cables), so the decision to not include one in the box is frankly baffling.
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VINE VOICEon 24 November 2013
Style: Thunderbolt 1|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As noted by others on Amazon and elsewhere this is an expensive expansion port.

My set-up consists of MacMini 2.5 2012 connected to Apple Thunderbolt Display, 2x 2TB Seagate Go-Flex drives connected via USB3, 1x 2TB Seagate Go-Flex drive connected via FW800 and 1x 3TB Seagate Go-Flex drive connected via Seagate Thunderbolt Adaptor plus a further 1TB LaCie drive connected via USB2 In addition to ethernet, speakers etc.

I also occasionally require to connect my MacBook Air 2011; with all the above peripherals connected to the Belkin - all I need to do is swap the Thunderbolt cable from the Mini to the Air - in an ideal world I would prefer a third Thunderbolt port to enable both Mini and Air to be connected at the same time but I realise that is not possible.

So for me this unit is ideal - instead of having to swap multiple connections I swap one only!

I am not in a position to test transfer speeds, but everything operates perfectly from my perspective.

This is a good looking unit emulating both the Mini and Air in visual appearance but not in build quality although it is adequate for the job.

If you're considering purchasing this from Amazon, be aware that there are some inconsistencies in the product images shown on the Amazon product page. I understand that from first announcing the unit and it's subsequent availability, Belkin have changed the original specification and it's appearance.

The unit I have for review is the one depicted in the video available on the product page and also image 5 - the one with just the Thunderbolt cable channel on the front of the unit - not the unit shown in the main image or indeed the back view image (6). These show a forward mounted Thunderbolt Port and to the rear an eSATA port - which in understand was dropped for the final release. Information correct at 24th November 2013.

As stated earlier, this is an expensive unit; had I not been offered it through the Vine program, I would not even consider the expense.
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on 20 December 2014
The neatest addition to my iMac. Sits on the desk and gives me blistering Thunderbolt speeds from my Lacie External drive. I also have a usb3 Seagate 2tb drive that plugs into one of the 3 Usb 3 ports for super fast connection. Both are super fast on this dock.

It was easy to install and is a great add on if you have a iMac. It gives you 2 x thunderbolt ports & 3 x USB 3 ports.
Its been the best upgrade to my Mac. Any one with a 2011 knows they did not have USB 3 capability this baby gives you that via the thunderbolt port.

If you move a loads of music and photographs as I do being a professional photographer shooting in RAW its a must. Gone are the days of taking 20 minutes to transfer a 16gb card. It takes an average of 2 minutes now.

You will need to purchase a thunderbolt cable for it.
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on 20 March 2014
I bought this and I love it. The new Macbook pro Retina comes with surprisingly few connections which is fine if you upgrade all your other devices to thunderbolt ones, but this dock makes a one cable solution which keeps the desktop tidy, and creating a simple Automator app allows me to safely eject all my external drives quickly and easily so I can just unplugged the one cable and go.

Now the exception, Belkin make a big deal that this unit only weighs 3lb, so I was a bit surprised when I got a package weighing about 10lbs! Turns out it was all power pack weight, the power adapter is massive for such a small device, coiled up in the box it is the same size as the dock! Plus it takes up more than 50% of the box, and the dock only runs of 12V, apple manage to get a 10V adapter into the size of a 3 pin plug. So I recommend (at your own risk) doing what I did and find an old compact 12V adapter and use that, it works fine (for me).
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on 6 November 2016
I love this dock. I was able to connect most of my peripherals and avoid having dozens of cables all over my desk. The only bad thing is that the thunderbolt cable was not included which i find unacceptable for that price. The new edition removed firewire support which i use so i prefer the old one. I would like some more USB ports though. Could be also cheaper... i bought it at discount though so no complains there.
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on 20 September 2014
The product looks good and works as soon as you plug it in. The USB 3 ports do deliver the speed expected as well as the firewire port. The good things end there.

I used it to connect a monitor using Mini Displayport to DVI adapter. It worked the first time, but after that, every time I rebooted my machine or restart it after sleep mode, the display won't work. So I had to disconnect the display adapter from the docking station or unplug the cable from the computer itself to get it working again. This itself defies the purpose of having a docking a station.

It doesn't include the cable to connect it with thunderbolt port, so thats additional product you need to purchase. I mean the product in itself is incomplete as it can't be used out of the box.

If I didn't have to use external monitor and just needed the USB 3 and extra firewire port, this is a good product. Otherwise, if you are happy to plug and unplug every time you restart your machine, it'd work for you.
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