Shortly after Apple introduced the new Thunderbolt I/O to Macs, many companies swiftly announced a variety of products to support the interface. Among the more interesting solutions were Thunderbolt docks, which use a single Thunderbolt port to add additional USB ports, video output options, FireWire, ethernet, and more to Thunderbolt-enabled Macs. So far, not many of these products have even shipped yet – and their usefulness to the average user is up for debate.
Sonnet has just introduced a very interesting new Thunderbolt dock to the market, however, combining a traditional dock with 15 additional ports for your Mac with the addition of a built-in optical drive, and the ability to add an internal hard drive or SSD. Rather than just acting as a dock, the new Sonnet Echo 15 combines an external hard drive, an optical drive, and a multi-port dock all in one device – a highly useful (and potentially very space-saving) alternative to the solutions we have seen so far.
From Sonnet’s description on the Echo 15 product page:
- Provides Multiple Interfaces—Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, SATA and eSATA, FireWire 800, and Gigabit Ethernet
- Adds an Optical Drive to Your Computer—Choose between an 8x DVD±RW drive or, optionally, a Blu-ray disc player (BD-ROM/8x DVD±RW drive)
- Adds Blu-ray Movie Play Support for OS X—When purchased with the Blu-ray drive option, Mac Blu-ray player software is included
- Supports Internal Hard Drive or SSD Installation—Install a 2.5″ or 3.5″ 6 Gb/s SATA drive inside the dock
- Flexible Design—Front and rear USB 3.0 and audio ports, plus the ability to be placed horizontally or vertically, provide the dock great flexibility in use
- Wide Range of Display Connection Options—Select from a variety of inexpensive Mini DisplayPort to popular display interfaces such as HDMI, DVI, VGA and Dual-Link DVI
- Mac and Windows Compatible—Supports any computer with a Thunderbolt port running OS X 10.8.2+, Windows 8, or Windows 7
Pricing starts at $399.95 for an Echo 15 with a built-in DVD drive, and ranges up to $549 for an Echo 15 with a built-in Blu-Ray writer and a 2TB internal hard drive. That’s some pretty aggressive pricing, especially when you price each of those components out separately.
For the base price of $399, the Echo 15 offers 6 more ports than Belkin’s $299 Thunderbolt Express Dock (which is not yet shipping), and a built-in DVD drive. That’s not too shabby. The Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock is available for pre-order now from Sonnet’s website, and is set to begin shipping this Summer.