updated 04:21 pm EDT, Tue April 2, 2013
Coming this summer, features almost every kind of modern port
Accessory maker Sonnet Technologies has introduced a catch-all Thunderbolt dock that offers users just about any kind of connection they might want. The Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock, compatible with both Mac and Windows machines, offers a total of 15 ports and includes options for an optical DVD or Blu-ray DVD drive as well as a 2TB hard drive (or smaller SSD). The deluxe dock is expected to arrive by summer, but can be pre-ordered now for North American customers. The unit's drive bay can also be used for Time Machine backups.
The unit comes with four USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA port-multiplier ports coupled with two internal SATA ports (one port for the included optical drive and one 6Gb-per-sec port for a user-installable SSD or 3.5-inch HD), a pass-through Thunderbolt port (in addition to the TB connector port), an audio in port, headphone (and speaker), a microphone port, a Firewire 800 connector and Gigabit Ethernet along with the four USB ports. The unit also includes an 8x Superdrive (or an optional Blu-ray BD-ROM 8x optical drive along with Blu-ray software for OS X).
The idea behind the unit is to create a one-stop shop for any kind of connection users might need to routinely plug in or unplug, with more accessible ports than are found on the back of many Mac and Windows PC models. The entire unit is connected to the Mac (running 10.8.2 or higher) or PC (running Windows 7 or 8) by a single Thunderbolt cable, making it easy to detach if the computer needs to be moved or is a notebook unit. Thunderbolt ports are slowly becoming standard equipment on new Windows PC and units, and have been standard on most new Mac models for over a year. The Mac Pro is expected to gain Thunderbolt ports on its next revision, due sometime this year.
The unit also supports the addition of a standard HD or SSD drive for either backing up data or as a media library. The case can be used either horizontally or vertically to save space, and some USB 3.0 and audio connections are situation on the front of the device for items like microphones, headphones, cell phones (for charging) or USB thumb drives. It supports daisy-chaining Thunderbolt or a DisplayPort monitor as well as Firewire chaining.
With a standard optical drive included, the Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock will sell for $400. Replacing the DVD drive with Blu-ray will cost $50 more. A DVD drive model with an optional pre-installed 2TB HD costs $500, and the Blu-Ray version with 2TB HD will be $550. Models without preinstalled HDs will be available from both Sonnet and its affiliated resellers, while the preinstalled HD models will be exclusive to Sonnet's online store.