Saturday, October 11, 2014 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock HD

Susie Ochs:

Connecting to your Mac’s Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port, it puts two Thunderbolt 2 ports in easy reach, as well as three USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 1.4b, one Gigabit Ethernet, an audio output in the back for speakers, and a headphone jack in the front.

Why can’t someone make a dock with a lot more ports? If you connect the Belkin to a MacBook Air, a display, and a single drive dock, you’re already out of Thunderbolt ports. And three USB ports is barely any. I’m currently using a 9-port Anker USB 3.0 hub (Amazon) and a 7-port USB 2.0 hub. This sort of product would be a lot more interesting if it could cut down on the number of hubs, power adapters, and daisy-chained cables in my office. Otherwise, it is essentially $300 to add a single Thunderbolt port.

Update (2014-10-11): After chatting with Belkin’s support person (see comments below), I learned that there are in fact only two Thunderbolt ports total. So this product does not add any Thunderbolt ports; it only offers a passthrough.

11 Comments

Michael Langford

I have the v1 of this, it's a TB passthrough and doesn't add any TB ports. One of those back two ports gets the cable from the mac, then one goes to the monitor.

It just adds the other ports.

The thing doesn't wake up appropriately even, which is embarrassing in an office if your headphones are plugged into it and the music wakes up but the belkin doesn't

@Michael It’s odd that the Belkin product page does not even say how many of each type of port it has. Instead, it says “Connect up to 8 devices directly to the dock, and daisy chain up to 4 additional Thunderbolt devices (5 total).” Ochs really makes it sound like it is not just a passthrough, that it adds a port:

it puts two Thunderbolt 2 ports in easy reach

But if you need an extra Thunderbolt port for editing video or hooking up more monitors, the Belkin could justify its cost.

But in all the photos I see only two Thunderbolt ports total!

I chatted for 20 minutes with Belkin’s customer service, which seemed to either not understand or not want to answer my question:

Let me confirm,You want to know details of Thunderbolt port right?

Not to worry ,I understand your concern. I'll do my best to assist you with the issue.

Before we can proceed further, please confirm if the following information are correct: [name and e-mail]

With the Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock HD, you can connect up to 8 devices .

But the person eventually confirmed:

Michael there are 2 Thunderbolt ports in the device. And you can passthrough.

I thanked the person for confirming that the Belkin does not actually increase the number of additional Thunderbolt devices that can be connected to the Mac and got this frustrating response:

Yes you can connect the Mac to anyone of the thunderbolt port.

The chat continued, and the support person asked me which devices I wanted to connect, even though I had already explained that. I was told:

Yes it will work.

But, after more discussion, the person finally said:

Yes you cannot use it simultaneously Michael.

When one port is connected with the Mac then only one port will be left over in which you can connect only one device.

It has only 2 Thunderbolt ports, isn't this leaving one more available on the Mac Book? This extends the total number to 3, albeit at the price of some inconvenience.

"It has only 2 Thunderbolt ports"

Right. One in, and one out. So, passthrough, rather than extending the total number...

Michael,

Out of nothing but pure curiosity, I briefly googled around for a few minutes, and I couldn't find any Thunderbolt dock that did anything but passthrough. (I'm not in the market for one, thus the cursory search.)

But can this really be true? Is there really no dock on the market that adds a Thunderbolt port?

@Chucky I have seen lots of people write that Thunderbolt hubs could exist, and that it was therefore not critical to have lots of ports on the computer, but I have yet to actually see one of these hubs for sale.

I asked about this on Twitter, and the answer seems to be that a Thunderbolt hub is impossible because it’s designed only for chaining.

"the answer seems to be that a Thunderbolt hub is impossible because it’s designed only for chaining."

Hmmm...

After reading that thread, am I ignorant, or wouldn't it be possible if a manufacturer stuck an appropriate chipset into the hub? Thus the impediment would be cost, rather than a technical limitation...

[…] Belkin, CalDigit doesn’t obscure and mislead about how many Thunderbolt ports its dock has. I wonder […]

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