The Thunderbolt Accessories of CES 2012

This is a discussion on The Thunderbolt Accessories of CES 2012 within the Apple News forums, part of the Apple News Room category; The Thunderbolt ports on our new MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros didnít receive a lot of attention in 2011, with tech demos still carrying on ...

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    The Thunderbolt Accessories of CES 2012

    The Thunderbolt ports on our new MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros didnít receive a lot of attention in 2011, with tech demos still carrying on through the mid-year as LaCie and Promise flexed their muscles at Computex. Seven months later at this yearís Consumer Electronics Show, several companies were finally prepared to unveil their products integrated with Thunderbolt technologies on the show floor (and we expect to see more at the upcoming Macworld | iWorld). Past the break weíll take a look at ten new Thunderbolt accessories that offer connected solutions, speedy storage, and new possibilities for stellar gaming performance.

    Seagateís GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter
    Seagate has the advantage of being able to extend the usefulness of their GoFlex drives by offering adapters for USB 3, Firewire 800, and now Thunderbolt which works by simply unplugging the old adapter, and attaching the new one via Seagateís proprietary connector. Seagateís GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter can upgrade a standard USB 2 external hard drive to a Thunderbolt capable one, especially useful for when you finally upgrade your Firewire equipped Mac to a newer model. According to Seagate, a Thunderbolt equipped drive will give you two to three times the performance of a Firewire 800 connection. The standard GoFlex adapter for 2.5″ drives will set you back $ 100, while the Desk adapter for 3.5″ drives will set you back a hefty $ 190. Look for Seagateís Thunderbolt Adapter in the first quarter of 2012.

    LaCieís eSATA Hub Thunderbolt Series

    About the size of a small RAID box, LaCieís ďThunderbolt HubĒ allows you to connect two eSATA drives to your MacBook Pro. The idea is that you can you bring your own storage as you need it (the hub is more cost effective than buying a big Thunderbolt storage solution), or you can connect the eSATA drives youíre already utilizing to a hub that works on the same line as your display. Why is eSATA the preference here? Thereís an abundance of eSATA drives on the market and they offer a top transfer speed of 6GB/s that can readily take advantage of a Thunderbolt pipe. LaCieís hub also gives you the opportunity to daisy chain more Thunderbolt hubs and connect a compatible display. Pricing hasnít been announced, but it should be available in the first quarter of 2012.

    Belkinís Thunderbolt Express Dock

    Instead of eSATA, what if we wanted to connect a slew of USB and Firewire 800 devices, or an HDMI equipped monitor to our Macs instead? Belkin has also announced their take on a Thunderbolt dock, which adds gigabit Ethernet, three USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire 800 port, an HDMI and a 3.5mm audio port. Belkinís Thunderbolt Express Dock effectively turns your desktop into a proper workstation, taking advantage of the peripherals most consumers already likely to own and use on a daily basis. Piping both your precious audio and video cargo alongside those all important data packets, Belkinís Thunderbolt hub can also daisy chain additional Thunderbolt accessories to neatly unify all of your devices onto one cable. Only $ 299, look for Belkinís Thunderbolt Express Dock to be available September 2012.
    Western Digitalís My Book Thunderbolt Duo

    If you need big honking storage, Wester Digital has announced the My Book Thunderbolt Duo, which pairs two 3.5-inch 2 TB or 3 TB drives together, making this the accessory to own if you store lots of video. With four 6 TB models daisy chained at Western Digitalís CES preview event, the company was able to achieve 24 TB of attached storage space. Early results showed average write speeds of 450 MB/s, with read speeds maxing out at 760 MB/s with the Mac used for demonstration. The My Book Thunderbolt Duo will be Mac exclusive at launch, but Western Digital is looking to make it PC compatible ASAP. Thereís currently no price point or release date, but the products will be formally announced at Macworld | iWorld later this month.

    LaCieís 2Big (Thunderbolt Raid Storage)

    If thereís one thing you should know about storage, itís that you can never go 2Big (sorry ó I had to). LaCieís 2Big is another Thunderbolt equipped external hard drive solution thatís able to daisy chain with other Thunderbolt solutions, housing two 3.5″ drives that are hot-swappable. The 2Big will support up to 8 TB of storage in a RAID 0 configuration, or 4 TB in RAID 1, and has transfer rates up to 311 MB/s. No pricing has been announced, but you can expect to see the product in the first quarter of 2012.

    OCZís Lightfoot (Thunderbolt SSD)

    Want the best performance from an portable external drive that money can buy? One solution is OCZís Lightfoot, a portable Thunderbolt drive that will be available in 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB solutions with promised 750 MB/s transfer rates for the professional industry. OCZís Thunderbolt SSD isnít for average consumers ó these bad boys will set you back an expected $ 250 for the 128 GB model, and $ 2000 for the 1 TB model. No pricing or release date has been announced, but OCZ promises low latency and accurate time-synchronization for A\V users who need a portable high-performance storage solution on the go for when it lands later this year.

    Elgatoís Thunderbolt SSD

    Elegato makes some nifty dongles for turning your Mac into your home television hub, but now theyíre getting into the storage game as well. Elegatoís Thunderbolt SSD will come in 120 GB and 240 GB capacities and offers transfer rates of up to 270 MB/s (USB 2.0 is typically around 35 MB/s). Unlike the Lightfoot, Elegatoís solution seems to aim at the traditional consumer market as the company advertises quick transfer rates, noiseless operation, and a strong metal enclosure to keep your drive contents safe. Elegatoís speedy Thunderbolt SSDs will be available in February for Ä399.95 ($ 508) and Ä649.95 ($ 825).

    ioSafe Rugged Portable Thunderbolt

    Not only does ioSafeís latest rugged hard drive feature a Thunderbolt port (obviously because of the name), itís also thunderbolt proof. In a caged demo, the ioSafe kids were crazy enough to shock their latest portable hard drive with a bolt of electricity from a Tesla coil (which would render any ordinary drive useless). Of course the demo went off without a hitch and ioSafe continues the tradition of proving their tough drive solutions.

    I havenít seen specific pricing for the Thunderbolt model, but an announced USB 3 and Firewire version of the Rugged Portable drive will start at $ 149.99 and be available with aluminum HDD and SDD enclosures in capacities between 250 GB and 1 TB, and titanium SSD enclosures in 256 GB and 512 GB capacities. Thunderbolt specs arenít yet available, and the Thunderbolt drive is scheduled for the second quarter of 2012. Click through to PC World to see the demonstration.

    Blackmagic Designís Intensity Shuttle

    MSIís GUS II (External GPU)

    Weíll consider this an honorable mention. Utilizing Thunderboltís fat 10 GB/s bi-directional pipeline, MSIís GUS II is a chassis with a PCIe slot that allows you to connect an external GPU. Thereís currently no OS X support (unless the GPU is compatible), and you canít connect external power as everything is powered via Thunderbolt, but maybe the gaming community would be open to the possibility of an external powerhouse pushing the latest games on a MacBook Air. Thereís no price or estimated launch date, but the concept and possibility is interesting to say the least.



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