Gadget and Smart Home Reviews

Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock Review: So Pointless, So Expensive, So Good


What the hell is this thing? Why does it cost so freaking much, and why the hell do I want it so much? I can’t explain it…

What Is It?

A massive docking station for your Thunderbolt-enabled Mac laptop.

From left to right, it’s packing an Ethernet port, a Firewire port, two Thunderbolt ports, a headphone jack, mic in and three USB 3.0 ports. All those are wrapped up in a slim, silver aluminium-coated, MacBook-esque log.

The Thunderbolt ports allow you to daisy-chain up to five Thunderbolt devices to the dock at a time. One Thunderbolt port will always be lost to connect to your Mac.

What’s Good?

This thing is really freaking handy. Odds are — unless you have a high-end MacBook Pro — you probably only have one Thunderbolt port on your Mac and more than a few adapters to use at once on it. If you want to connect to Ethernet, HDMI and/or Thunderbolt displays or storage, for example, you’re going to find yourself coming up short. That’s where this thing comes in handy.

Right now I’m running a second display, two USB 3.0 devices, Ethernet, headphones and a mic, and I still have room for more. all that gear only takes up one of my precious Thunderbolt ports.

It’s a space-saver’s wet dream, this thing, and if you’re a Mac fanboy who loves the look of your MacBook, this thing handily sticks with your sleek, silver aesthetic.

What’s Bad?

Good. God. Why is this thing so outrageously expensive?!

Before you scroll down and look at the price, take a guess how much it will set you back. $100? $200? NOPE:

$349.95

That is next-level bonkers.

Sure it’s useful, but why the hell does it cost so much?

To add insult to injury, the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock doesn’t come with a Thunderbolt cable to attach to your Mac in the box: you have to buy that one yourself at an additional cost of $45.

“But Luke,” I hear you ask, “why must I spend an additional $45 on a two-metre Thunderbolt cable when the 0.5-metre one will do for just $35?” Because, dear reader, the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock doesn’t position the Thunderbolt ports very well, so you’re left dragging the dock around your desk by your laptop anytime you go to reposition.

The Thunderbolt Dock has a nifty little divot through the middle where you can loop your Thunderbolt cable through to the other side, but it still doesn’t get you all the way to your Mac’s Thunderbolt port if you opt for the short one. It’d be way better if the second Thunderbolt port was on the front of the device. but that’s not happening here.

Also, it gets crazy hot. Not-burn-your-hand-hot, but hot enough that you’ll notice if you stick your finger on it.

Should You Buy It?

It’s clunky, it’s expensive and it’s not great value, so why do I still want to part with the better part of $400 for it? Why? Is it because Belkin has tapped into the Apple zeitgeist perfectly with this thing? Maybe. Is it because it gives me more access than I could dream of than with just my one Thunderbolt port? Probably. Is it priced at a person who has more money than sense? Most definitely.

Don’t get me wrong, if this was even $100 less and came with a 2-metre Thunderbolt cable in the box, it’d be a no-brainer. Just think long and hard before you part with your cash for one. I know I will.

Images: Belkin


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