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Belkin to add USB 3.0 to Macs via Thunderbolt dock

Belkin announces its new Thunderbolt Express Dock that adds USB 3.0 as well as many other peripheral connection types to Thunderbolt-enabled Macs, and a new Thunderbolt cable that's shorter and more affordable.

Front and back of the new Thunderbolt Express Dock from Belkin.
Front and back of the new Thunderbolt Express Dock from Belkin.

Generally, Mac users have been missing out on USB 3.0, instead, they have had Thunderbolt from the beginning of the new standard. Now that's about to change, thanks to Belkin.

The company announced yesterday a new docking device called Thunderbolt Express Dock, model F4U055, which allows for adding three USB 3.0 ports to a Mac via the computer's Thunderbolt port. In addition, it also offers one port of the following connection types: FireWire 800, Gigabit Eithernet, and eSATA, as well as one audio in and one audio out. Similar to most Thunderbolt devices, the dock comes with two Thunderbolt ports, enabling daisy chain setups with up to five other Thunderbolt devices.

Belkin says the new dock works with both PC and Mac computers that have the support for Thunderbolt. Intel and Asus released the first motherboards that support both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 just last week, allowing enthusiasts to build Thunderbolt-enabled systems of their own before OEM systems with the support for this standard becoming available by the end of the year.

Other than the new dock, Belkin also announced a new Thunderbolt cable that's shorter (3 feet) and cheaper ($45) than those made by Apple andrecently Kanex, which are about 6-feet long and cost about $50. Note that shorter is actually better here in most cases since the existing Thunderbolt cable is generally way too long for most storage applications.

The Thunderbolt Express Dock, however, is not cheap, and costs about $400. It will be available by September this year. The Thunderbolt cable, on the other hand, can be purchased next month.