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242 of 265 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2013
I'm the "Tech Daddy" on the Huffington Post, and I really wanted to like this device -- really! I'd been tracking it since it was first announced a little less than 2 years ago. At one time I chalked it up to vaporware, as the release date kept changing. But finally it was here and I couldn't wait to order it.

After all that anticipation, I'm sorry to say the device is is less than stellar, for the following reasons:

1. YOU CANNOT BOOT FROM IT -- nowhere online or in any print materials does Belkin mention this. Even on their own website they don't bring it up! BTW, there is no manual for the device; only an FAQ, and it's pretty paltry. Anyway, I had backed up a client's Mac to their new USB 3 external drive, and I used the Dock to connect that drive as their MacBook Pro doesn't have USB 3 ports. But it DOES have Thunderbolt! Using the Dock, the backup speeds were very impressive, indeed. HOWEVER ... I found that I could not boot from that drive, or any connected device, because they weren't recognized at startup. Bad Belkin!

2. THE ESATA PORT IS GONE -- originally the device as described by Belkin was going to have an eSata port. But when I unboxed the product, there was none to be found. I since learned that Belkin revised the device TWICE since its original announcement, and decided to drop the eSata port. That was one of the main reasons I wanted it: to use the eSata ports on my external drives. I did manage a workaround, though: I got a $30 eSata to USB3 cable and did it that way.

3. USB3 SPEED IS LIMITED TO 2.5GB/S -- the promise of unleashing full 5GB/S USB3 speed will have to wait for another day. For whatever reason, Belkin very quietly, and in small print, says 2.5GB/S is the maximum using the Dock. Really?

4. YOU MUST USE OS X 10.8.4 FOR THE DOCK TO FUNCTION ON A MAC -- not a huge problem, except when I tried to backup my client's drive from their Mac running OS X 10.7.5. The idea was to back it up, then completely reformat the machine for a new user. Instead I had to waste 20 minutes updating the system to 10.8.4 before I could start the backup. I *think* I still saved time overall, but not that much.

As for what some others have complained about -- flaky behavior or devices disappearing off the desktop -- I didn't see any of that. However, the caveats I just listed are enough for me to send it back and wait for Sonnet's even MORE expensive, but also WAY more juicy Echo 15 with 15 -- count 'em -- 15 ports! The Echo 15 will not only feature bootability and eSata, but a built-in DVD or Blu-Ray drive AND a traditional or SSD drive as well. For what I'm looking for, that'll be a lot better I'm sure.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2013
Physically the design great, which is the only reason I gave 2 stars instead of 1, but functionally this thing is garbage.

USB 3.0 ports: as others have mentioned these run at about half the rated speed, which I can live with but it should be stated somewhere. The USB ports seem to become disconnected at random during normal use and you have to unplug the entire dock to get them back. If you can't keep the mouse and keyboard connected then you don't get to call your product a dock IMO.

Gigabit NIC: my macbook sees the hardware when connected but the OS reports the connection is disconnected even though there is a link light on the dock itself. Not really worth the effort to troubleshoot since i have wireless anyway but it should work; unacceptable.

Audio out: works fine, maybe they actually tested this.

Power cord: too short on the fixed end so i had to put in on top of the desk to avoid having it hang from the connector on the dock; design flaw.

In addition to the things that i have listed already I had planned on using a USB video card to power a 3rd monitor and completely replace my desktop. The external video card works find if it is connected straight to the mac but if i connect it to the dock it constantly disconnects and reconnects causing my display positions to change in the arrangement.

Overall this thing is not even worth half of the $300 dollars it costs, I am returning it immediately.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
If you are in need for more expansion ports on your Mac Belkin Thunderbolt Dock is a port replicator encased in aluminum which will offer you lots of them. Its design was made to perfectly match with any Apple product.

The following ports are included: Gigabit Ethernet, Firewire 800, three USB 3.0 ports, headphone and audio input, and of course two Thunderbolt ports, one has to be used to connect the dock to the computer. Without that the dock would not work, as it can't be run from USB, meaning Mac with Thunderbolt is needed. A power is also supplied to provide a 500mAh charge to the USB ports, and as nice Amazon supplement, 1m data transfer cable which normally needs to be bought separately.

No drivers are needed, this is one of those real plug and play devices meaning user have to plug a Thunderbolt cable in, plug the power in and Mac OS X 10.8 which is a requirement will pick it up instantly.

Device is doing what it says will do and also brings back Firewire port Apple decided to remove, much to the disappointment of most video and sound editors on the market.

Speaking about cons, sometime it can be a little slow to start recognizing other devices, but major issue beside pretty expensive price is suffering from a design which could really take some tweaking. First of all that is because all the ports are on the back device side which disable possibility for quick and easy switching like it would be on the front, or on the side. That's most problematic for USB and headset jacks on the back. Also although the USB ports are charged, they don't seem to support the charging of a 10W device needed for Apple iPad or other tablets.

As final verdict, owners of Thunderbolt-equipped Mac portables tired of (un)plugging peripherals should consider the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock. For sure it has a big price, but this dock's many connections can help user to realize the potential of Thunderbolt technology.

Also, praise should go to Amazon for providing Thunderbolt cable out-of-the-box which usually costs around $35 at least.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2013
I own a Seagate GoFlex Desk USB3.0 hard drive that I connected to one of the USB3.0 ports on this dock. The dock is connected via thunderbolt to my 2011 iMac running Mountain Lion. When I first installed it, I noticed weird behavior with the hard drive not immediately getting detected when I plugged it into the dock. I have read other reviews for this product on Apple store that said the ports do not provide enough power for peripherals like the Superdrive. However, I didn't anticipate the issue would lead to me losing my data! The hard drive wouldn't come back up after waking the mac up from sleep. My applications would throw up errors that they cannot find the directory... And finally Disk Utility threw an error and said that I should just try to recover whatever data I can.

So consider yourself warned.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2014
My new iMac has two Thunderbolt ports but no FireWire plug.
This was the only unit that claimed to allow one to use not only
the thunderbolt port, but also a FireWire and three USB ports on the mac.
The problem is that the port once plugged in shows up as a separate USB n
device in your audio interface list on the mac. This device causes crashes
with some audio software and blocks access to the FireWire interface on some
DAW's. It will be a great idea once this bug gets worked out. Until then, I will
not be able to use it and will need to stop using my FireWire interface. I need
my other two TB ports for two external monitors.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2014
I bought this to use with my new 13" rMBP, which I bough in Feb of this year (2014). It was easy enough to plug in the Dock and it worked right out of the box as I wanted. I hooked up the video to my Samsung monitor and connected a couple of USB 3.0 drives. Everything worked great for about a week. It was then the video died. The USB 3.0 drives worked, but there was not video signal. The Samsung just slept.

I swapped out the cables and the Dock still did not work. I tested the cables by connecting the directly to the rMBP and to the Samsung. They worked fine. Therefore, the only variable left was the dock itself.

To be honest, I hesitated buying this based on other reviews. However, I have always had such great luck with Belkin USB hubs and peripherals. But, this time I wasn't so lucky. Thankfully Amazon is fantastic and getting this returned for a refund was a snap. I think I will wait until the next iteration of these are developed before purchasing another.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2013
I've read a lot of negative reviews about this, but perhaps a lot of the problems have been fixed either with newer hardware from Belkin or software updates from Apple. I know they are selling this dock in their stores now, so it must be vetted to some extent.

I've had no problems with it at all, and love that I've gone from a MacBook Pro literally bristling with cables out of all ports down to only three. Because of daisy-chain Thunderbolt- this won't help you with a multi-monitor solution, but at least you can move one of your Thunderbolt to DVI adapters onto the back of this dock, which isn't as cumbersome. I use HDMI for my 2nd monitor, so it is no big deal to plug that cable in.

My only real complaint is the speed limitation on the USB 3.0 ports, which may be a technological limitation with Thunderbolt. I only use USB 3 for my Time Machine backup drive, and haven't noticed any issues even if it isn't running at full speed. I use one of the other ports to connect to a 7-port powered hub for all of the USB 2.0 stuff, including the Mac keyboard. It all just works...

As others have complained- I'll echo that the power cable is way too short as-well. If you are going to balance this right on the edge of your desk- the power brick might make it to the floor. Likewise- the 120-volt cord is too-short if you have a power strip on the floor, although it should reach a wall outlet if it is right behind your desk. At least the latter is removable, so you can swap it with another standard cord. In my case- I'm not deducting a star because the brick just sits on my subwoofer under my desk, so it isn't a big deal for me.

Considering the few alternatives, with the best one being Apple's $1000 Thunderbolt monitor- I feel this is a great product for someone looking for a Thunderbolt docking solution, especially if you use your MacBook away from your desk a lot, and have a lot of cables to deal with right now.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Mac fans rejoice - the long promised Thunderbolt docking stations have finally arrived. This Belkin version does not disappoint. It has gigabit ethernet, three USB 3.0 ports, a firewire 800 port, two analog audio ports (an input and output), and a spare thunderbolt port. The best part is that no drivers are required - just plug it in and everything just works.

Belkin's marketing might lead you to believe that there are two available thunderbolt ports. This is sort of true, although one will always be tied up connecting the dock to your computer. So the reality is that all of the above mentioned ports can be added to a Mac and you'll still have a Thunderbolt port available. The addition of an audio input is very helpful - especially for Macbook Pro Retina and Macbook Air users who have been dealing with the single audio jack on their computers.

The dock lacks a video port but plugging a displayport adapter into the remaining thunderbolt port passes video just fine. You may have to decide, however, between a thunderbolt device and an external display should your Mac only have one thunderbolt port and the device doesn't offer a passthrough port. Only the Macbook Pro Retinas have dual thunderbolt ports.

Performance is great, although the USB 3.0 ports clocked in at a lower throughput speed as compared to directly connecting the same drive I tested to my Mac.

There is a similar product on the market from Matrox. The difference is that the Belkin product has three USB 3.0 ports to the Matrox's one (although the Matrox does also have two slower USB 2.0 ports). The Matrox also has an HDMI output for video, but it becomes a dead-end for thunderbolt as it does not have a way to connect any additional thunderbolt devices.

If you're looking for a docking station for your Macbook this is probably the best option short of purchasing the Apple Thunderbolt Display. Pairing the Belkin up with an inexpensive monitor can cost less than half of Apple's offering.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have a Thunderbolt equipped Retina Macbook pro. I have a couple thunderbolt drives, but that's it. I also have a couple display port adapters for DVI, HDMI, and VGA from my older Macbook Pro that didn't have the HDMI out. But at the office, the only place I use an external monitor, I just would plug in my power and the HDMI cable into my laptop. I used bluetooth apple keyboard and trackpad, so I didn't have enough need to get a port replicator (since I still don't consider things like this as a true "dock" but just a port replicator).

When this came up on the Vine, I thought I'd give it a try. Maybe move my 3TB thunderbolt drive to the office and run time machine backups there automatically, rather than running them manually at home by plugging the drive in specifically when I wanted a backup. And it would be a good excuse to pull out the old USB full sized apple keyboard again that I stopped using because I got tired of plugging and unplugging things every time I arrived or left the office.

It arrived quickly enough, and I unboxed it at home to get a look at it. The power brick this thing uses is about 75% of the size of the dock itself, like a laptop power brick. I dislike power bricks even more than I dislike the wall warts simply because they end up being more of a pain for me to try to bury somewhere out of sight.

The unit itself is well made though, and solid construction. The finish doesn't quite match the Macbook appearance but that's fine, it still looks nice. And there's a channel underneath it for running a few cables neatly "under" the center of it to the back, which is a nice design feature.

The Thunderbolt didn't quite perform up to snuff though. Using a 3TB Seagate Thunderbolt drive got me between 80 to 90 percent of the speed I'd get doing the same things with the drives plugged into my laptop directly. I tested with the same files, both large 25GB single video files and with about 15 GB of MP3's, JPG's, and RAW files. Consistently I didn't get the same speeds when the drive was plugged into the dock as I did when it was plugged in directly. It still went at an acceptable speed though.

My other big complaint is no native video ability. Since I have the display port to VGA and HDMI adapters, I tested them here, and the VGA one worked great, but the HDMI adapter would NOT work with this unit, even though it works fine directly in the thunderbolt / mini display port on the Macbook. Initially I had set things up with the thunderbolt uplink from my laptop to the Belkin unit here, and then linked from there to the hard drive, then from the hard drive to my display adapter plugged into the external monitor. But I had issues with how the system would screw up my desktop icons and scatter them across both monitors whenever I plugged in. So I reversed myself and tested with the Macbook plugged into the drive, the drive plugged into the Belkin, and the Belkin then having the display adapter plugged into it to the VGA on my monitor. That seemed to do the trick. But for this price, I would've expected to see this built in, so there was either a VGA or an HDMI port on the device itself, saving the user the need for an adapter. And the fact that the HDMI does not work while the VGA worked fine is a bit of a frustration as well, but for my office setting, I can deal with that. I just don't like having to waste a separate link for the monitor, since unless you're using a thunderbolt monitor, that effectively ends the chain. And with only the one Thunderbolt Out port, that limits you. Sure, you could use the second one on the Macbook, but that defeats the purpose.

Gigabit ethernet works, nothing stellar there since it's pretty much standard fare on most docks or port expanders.

The USB 3 ports would be handy but since I use my 3TB Thunderbolt desktop drive for time machine, I don't have any real use for them other than for keyboard, since now that I'm using this I put my USB Apple full keyboard back into play, rather than the smaller bluetooth I had been using to keep me from having to plug things in and out all the time.

I"ve been used to plugging in two things every day, power and HDMI. And all I got out of it was the HDMI. Now, at least, I still only plug two things into it, and I get the video out, my thunderbolt drive, gigabit ethernet, and my full sized keyboard. I may add a sound dock to the mix as well since there's audio out here to use, but generally at work, the only time I fire up anything for music and such, I use headphones (which are tucked now under the monitor stand with this).

So far it all works well, but I can't help but think that for this price there should be more functionality in a port replicator.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2014
When it works it works well. Too often you have to mess with it though. I use this at an office location that I travel to daily. I have a 30" monitor, ethernet, keyboard, and mouse attached. Some days I can come in, plug my laptop into the wall outlet and connect the thunderbolt cable and i'm off and running. Other days I have to plug and unplug it several times, when that doesn't work I have to either unplug the power from the dock and/or reboot my laptop. It is a really nice until that doesn't work really well.

It is also not plug-and-play in the beginning. For those who say the ethernet etc. do not work I would encourage you to go to Belkin's website and download the drivers. Nowhere does it say they are needed, and they are not well advertised, but I assure you it will not work without them. When I first got it the only thing that would work was the thunderbolt passthrough to the monitor (miniDP to DP). I could see different devices (like the network adapter) in the system preferences but they would not work.
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