I recently purchased a new Mac Mini for use as my desktop computer in the office. One of the appeals was the high-speed Thunderbolt port. This port is faster than USB 3.0 (of which the mac mini has 0 ports ) and can daisy chain etc, overall it would be quite useful for audio and video editing.
I was recently reading Anandtech’s article dicussing the possibilities of a thunderbolt docking station. Currently only the $999 Apple display has that feature. You can read more about the upcoming thunderbolt docks here, but the basic gist for users is as follows:
MacBook Air users may be able to justify spending $249/$399 on a Thunderbolt dock because their connectivity is limited to two USB 2.0 ports and Thunderbolt, and a dock would add ports such as FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet. However, it’s good to keep in mind that Ivy Bridge and UM77 chipset will bring native USB 3.0 support to MacBook Air as well, hence it may be more affordable to sell your current MacBook Air and buy a new one than to keep the old one and buy a Thunderbolt dock.
Wait, what? It would be cheaper to sell your old one, and buy a new one than to buy a Thunderbolt dock!?
So obviously these docks are carrying some sort of a premium. I can live without USB 3 (I think?) but this means I will require a thunderbolt equiped hard disk. And these aren’t cheap either.
There are a few options by LaCie around $200 (a 120gb SSD Drive) or $250 (a 1tb platter disk) and a similarly priced range of drives manufactured by WD, either way you’re looking at a $300 product.
I can either use a $30 usb 3 drive enclosure (with a disk I already own) along with a $249 dock, or I can get a $275 Thunderbolt disk (the benefit being I would get an additional hard disk to store stuff).
My grandfather was famously quoted throughout my life as saying:
What deal?! The best kind of deal is the one you don’t have to pay for!
And while this frustrated me as a child I can’t help but hear myself saying these same words with regards to Thunderbolt.
SO, basically there’s a thunderbolt conspiracy to keep the cables cost < $40 and it would be logical to assume that the same people are setting the market for the chips required in the thunderbolt / USB 3 to SATA causing every manufacturer to have a similarly high price (after taking into consideration profit margins)
I will be waiting for a bit more before purchasing any docks or drives. I think the best bet will be a thunderbolt equipped drive for high-speed near-line storage.
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Edited: October 17th, 2012