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December 18, 2012

$250 Matrox DS1 is Your New (or First, At Least) Apple Thunderbolt to Multi-Peripheral Hub

Apple is steadily abandoning its own FireWire standard, continuously simplifying the ports on its machines, and pushing for the growing acceptance of FireWire's successor -- the Thunderbolt protocol. Given all this, Mac users find themselves in a bizarre transitional phase. It may be frustrating, because while Apple surges forward, peripherals' acceptance of Thunderbolt has been lackluster at best. Much to the relief of perennial Mac users finding themselves unable to blend their legacy gear with, say, their fresh iMac or MacBook Pro, Matrox has finally released it's DS1 Thunderbolt docking station -- the first solution of its kind -- which looks to seamlessly marry almost everything you could want between the old and the new.

Here's the promo video, straight from Matrox:

To illustrate the specs, port-placement, and general form factor of this workhorse, here's the connections breakdown, also courtesy Matrox:

As you can tell, the DS1 supports either DVI or HDMI monitoring linkup, not both in one package -- however, if your travels see serious use of both monitoring protocols, you can buy DVI-to-HDMI converters to switchover should the need arise. The DS1 may only have a market in editors who have to go back and forth a lot between a variety of locations (and generations of protocols or machines), serious daisy-chainers, or whatever the case may be, but this solution may be a bit overboard for some, at its $250 price point. I personally can think of a recent workaround-finagling multi-device/protocol fiasco in which just this device would have saved a lot of headaching -- if only for the USB ports it adds to the newer MacBook Pros.

There's no question this piece of gear will have a lot of beneficial applications -- and it's nice to finally start seeing offerings such as this. At some point in the next 50 years, the day will come in which I purchase a new machine -- likely a laptop from Apple -- and something like this will be of use to someone with ~15 TBs of Western Digital USB 2.0-only drives, at the very least.

Two points of criticism, for what it's worth. The Thunderbolt port on the DS1 may allow for two-way data transfer, but with no secondary Thunderbolt port, Thunderbolt daisy-chaining is not possible with this device as the first in the chain. Secondly, and you guys may be able to enlighten me on this, but I noticed something so obvious about this device that it didn't dawn on me until just now -- it doesn't contain any FireWire ports itself. So while it may have a lot of applications in expanding your port-limited Mac, it may not be the universal backwards-compatibility solution some of us may be hoping for. If it does suit your needs, however, you can purchase using the links below.

Link:

[via MacRumors and TechCrunch]

Your Comment

17 Comments

Don't you love it when smaller companies make something just perfect for you? I'm putting together a computer station and my friend is getting the black magic camera. With all the data that needs transferring this is will do.

December 18, 2012

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Julian Terry

Where's the firewire 800?????

December 18, 2012

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a

Nice first version, but I'm more inclined to go with the port options on the Belkin version.

December 18, 2012

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Marc B

I may have missed it when reading, but what is the main advantage of this device? Doesn't the MBP already have USB 3.0, Audio, & HDMI? And for $30 you can get a thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter. I'm sure it's me missing the boat. Someone care to elaborate?

December 18, 2012

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Matthew Reynolds

You're thinking of the current lineup. The 2011 variety does not have USB 3.0 and HDMI.

December 18, 2012

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Dave

Gotcha, that makes sense. Thanks!

December 18, 2012

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Matthew Reynolds

Lack of Firewire, eSATA and an additional Thunderbolt pass-through options makes me not likely to purchase this product.

December 18, 2012

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George P

Dave, I think your two criticism are major misses by Matrox. I have a new MBP and have been endlessly searching for a thunderbolt hub with at least two thunderbolt ports, but they don't seem to exist. I love thunderbolt and really wish I'd be able to utilize an external drive AND an external monitor with it.

December 18, 2012

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Glad I'm not the only one scratching my head at these omissions -- I'm guessing it had to do with simplifying the product to minimize development/wait time, which was already pretty significant. Folks dismayed by this product's short-comings can look forward to the future, though. Apparently Belkin has a similar hub growing in the labs -- which includes 2 Thunderbolt ports and a FireWire 800 port. No exact release date announced (first quarter 2013), but when there's something definite NFS will be letting everyone know :)

December 18, 2012

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Dave Kendricken
Writer
Freelancer

I'm in the same boat - new MBPr and would LOVE a good hub but this isn't it unfortunately. Why this thing doesn't include FW is beyond me. And another TB port at least. Belkin has the right idea but who knows when theirs is coming out. And damn it's pricey! Still, to be able to connect everything through a single port makes it close enough to worth it for me to buy.

December 21, 2012

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Craig

Are they nuts? why not create a single model with a switch to DVI / HDMI? What a waste of manufacturing costs. And WHY do I have to buy 2? Put Firewire 800 while you redesign it.

December 18, 2012

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Tulio

I believe that I saw a sample set-up which showed the Thunderbolt output from a MBP going to external storage (with Thunderbolt pass-through) and out from that into the Matrox unit. That seems to be the way they intended it to be used, and why there's no second Tbolt port.

December 18, 2012

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that guy

While I applaud SOMEONE for making a device for Thunderbolt, there are so many missed opportunities with this, it's somewhat baffling. No USB 3.0? No FW or eSATA? At least one T-bolt pass through?

December 18, 2012

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Swested

Swested, look carefully at the font view picture, you will see a "SuperSpeed USB 3.0" port.

Firewire and e-SATA are on their way out, so my guess is that Matrox decided not to include them since users will most likely not rely on those standards in the future.

As for the lack of Thunderbolt passthrough, I truly do not see the big deal; just place whatever equipment you have before this dock. I have received my DS1 with HDMI output yesterday, I have connected it after my Thunderbolt hard drive and a Thunderbolt expansion chassis. When I leave my desk, I disconnect the Thunderbolt cable from my MacBook Air, and all my peripherals including my keyboard, mouse, network and display (all connected to this Matrox DS1) are disconnected. When I get back, I connect that one cable back, and all my peripherals are back online in a second!

December 19, 2012

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Paul

Seems this box is for Macbook Air and similar ultrabooks. Those lack Ethernet, USB2 (as the latest have -admittedly compatible- USB3), and micor in.

December 19, 2012

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Thyl Engelhardt

Why does Apple do this? They created a bunch of new computers that are pretty much useless to pro's. I applaude Matrox for trying but no eSata? And while esata might be going out, how many of us are sitting on very expensive storage towers that only operate on eSata? And the best part is none of my new computers will connect to it, and not only that but how do I get all the data off of these legacy machines? And I use legacy with tongue in cheek as mine is only a year old..

December 20, 2012

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Franco

Apple has always been like that: when they adopt a new technology, the old one gets ditched pretty abruptly. Users then are wining for a little while, but then at some point they just buy new stuff and like it :)

It is not easy to switch to new technologies. In the Windows world things are mostly going too slow because nobody wants to make the first step. Without Apple, Thunderbolt would be nowhere right now, so actually I think Apple is doing the right thing. At some point you just have to make a cut and ditch the old crap. It may hurt for a little while, but then everything becomes better quickly :)

December 22, 2012

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Heiko