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:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxbq_mKKrgc
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.
- DS1 Thunderbolt Docking Station for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air -- Matrox
- Buy: DS1/HDMI
- Buy: DS1/SDI