Sonnet's new dock packs a punch for the competition, offering an all-in-one solution for most docking needs.
Topher KesslerMacFixIt Editor
Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.
Sonnet Technologies has debuted its Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock, which includes a number of ports and options that is intended to be an all-in-one solution to I/O needs for systems with Thunderbolt connectors.
As portable systems get smaller and adopt high-speed universal I/O technologies such as Thunderbolt, more peripheral and docking solutions that use this technology are being introduced. Since a single-port solution is a popular choice for notebook users, a number of companies have promised Thunderbolt-based docking options that can link all peripherals to a portable system directly via its Thunderbolt connection.
One of the first of these to be released was the Matrox DS1, though it has been met with some criticism by not having enough options to meet users' needs. Additionally, Belkin is in line to release its upcoming Thunderbolt dock, which is specified to cover some of these missing options.
Today, however, Sonnet Technologies has made its Echo 15 Thunderbolt dock available for pre-order, which is a small dock about the size of the original Mac Mini, and which deals a blow to the competition by offering a wealth of I/O options and features that make it quite a compelling device for those who need an all-in-one docking solution.
True to its name, the Echo 15 has 15 different ports, including two Thunderbolt ports, four USB 3.0, two eSATA, and single FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet ports. It also has dual audio I/O connections for speakers, headphones, and microphones. Similar specifications have been advertised on other docking solutions; however, an additional step that Sonnet has taken is to include an optical drive in the Echo 15, which will by default contain a DVD player but can be upgraded with an optional Blu-ray drive for watching movies and burning DVDs (software necessary for viewing Blu-ray movies in OS X is included).
Not content simply upping the ante with an optical drive, the Echo 15 has another surprise under the hood by way of an internal bay and SATA III (6Gb/s) connection for adding an optional 2.5- or 3.5-inch hard drive.
The Echo that comes with a DVD drive will be a bit pricey at $400 for the base version, with the optional Blu-ray player adding another $50. Sonnet is also offering the dock preconfigured with a 2TB hard drive for $100 more. The Echo 15 Thunderbolt dock will ship in the summer of 2013.