Thursday, April 04, 2013

Turn any Thunderbolt-equipped Mac into a Mac Pro

High-end media producers have become concerned about the future of Apple's Mac Pro, for two reasons:
  1. The Mac Pro hasn't received a major update in years, and
  2. Apple withdrew the Mac Pro from Europe on March 1st because it doesn't meet European safety regulations.
It's entirely possible that Apple plans to update or replace the Mac Pro later this year--but it's also possible that this is it for the Mac Pro. That makes ways to expand Apple's other models even more important. For the past couple of years, Apple has touted its 10Gbps Thunderbolt interface as the expansion interface for media producers, but Thunderbolt docks have been very slow in coming to the market.

Engadget reports that Sonnet, which already offers a line of Thunderbolt expansion chassis, adapters and disk arrays, has introduced the Echo 15 dock, with the widest array of interfaces I've seen. It includes:
  • Four USB 3.0 ports
  • Two eSATA ports
  • One Thunderbolt port (in addition to the Thunderbolt connection to the host computer)
  • One Gigabit Ethernet port
  • One FireWire 800 port
  • A DVD or Blu-Ray drive
  • Room to mount a 2.5" or 3.5" SATA drive internally
The Echo 15's prices will range $399.95 for the DVD-equipped model with no hard drive to $549.95 for the model with a Blu-Ray drive and 2TB hard drive. Sonnet is taking pre-orders at its website and expects to begin shipments this summer. The Echo 15 is priced very competitively compared to docks from Belkin and Matrox that have fewer ports and no optical or hard drives.

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