LAS VEGAS--If you have a Thunderbolt-enabled computer but just can't afford Thunderbolt storage, LaCie has something that will ease the pain.
The company showed off at the start of CES the first Thunderbolt hub that also supports an eSATA connection, called the eSATA Hub Thunderbolt Series.
This is a device about the size of a portable external drive that comes with two Thunderbolt ports and two eSATA ports. Users can connect up to two eSATA drives to the hub and it will instantly make them work with a host computer via one Thunderbolt port. With the other port, you can daisy chain other Thunderbolt devices, including other hubs in case you have many eSATA drives.
This is actually a great solution, as eSATA has the top speed of 6Gbps, which is the same as that of an internal hard drive and the best you can get out of external storage for now. These external hard drives are also much more affordable than Thunderbolt storage devices of the same capacity. The most important is that those who have been using eSTA drives with an old Mac can now upgrade to a new Thunderbolt-enabled Mac without having to buy new external drives. Most if not all Thunderbolt-enable Macs don't support eSATA .
Unfortunately, the hub doesn't work the other way around: it won't allow you to hook up a Thunderbolt storage device to a computer via eSATA. For now it doesn't support USB 3.0 external hard drives, either.
LaCie's eSATA Hub Thunderbolt Series will be available during the first quarter of 2012 with pricing to be announced then.