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OWC's Thunderbolt 4 dock makes up for new laptops' lack of ports

You can plug three Thunderbolt or USB-C devices into the dock along with other USB peripherals, a network cable, audio devices and SD Cards.

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Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertise processors, semiconductors, web browsers, quantum computing, supercomputers, AI, 3D printing, drones, computer science, physics, programming, materials science, USB, UWB, Android, digital photography, science Credentials
  • I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
Stephen Shankland
2 min read
OWC's Thunderbolt 4 dock has three open ports that can be used for Thunderbolt or USB-C devices.

OWC's Thunderbolt 4 dock has three open ports that can be used for Thunderbolt or USB-C devices.

Other World Computing

If you have a newer laptop that doesn't have as many ports as you'd like, peripheral maker Other World Computing has a new Thunderbolt 4 Dock that might interest you for plugging in things like storage devices, network cables, headphones and external monitors. The $249 dock works with Macs running Apple's new Big Sur operating system and Windows laptops powered by Intel's 11th-generation Core processors (code-named Tiger Lake) -- the only laptops that support the new Thunderbolt 4 version of Intel's high-speed connection technology.

Docks are handy when you want to connect your laptop to a bunch of devices when you get to work or a home office. A single cable plugged into a single laptop port accommodates a broad range of devices.

One major improvement with Thunderbolt 4 is that now you can plug multiple Thunderbolt devices into a hub or dock instead of just one. OWC's new Thunderbolt Dock has three Thunderbolt ports, and you can plug USB-C devices into them, too. Thunderbolt 4 also should work more reliably on Windows laptops, but its top speed of 40 gigabits per second is unchanged from Thunderbolt 3.

OWC's new Thunderbolt Dock, announced at this year's online-only CES, has the following: three Thunderbolt 4 ports that also accept USB-C devices; a fourth Thunderbolt port that links to the PC and supplies up to 90 watts of charging power; one old-style USB-A port running at relatively slow USB 2 speeds good for devices like keyboards; three USB-A ports running at faster 10Gbps speeds; one gigabit Ethernet port; one SD Card slot; and one 3.5mm audio port for headphones or microphones.

Each Thunderbolt port on the dock can handle up to two 4K displays or on 8K display.

Other OWC devices at CES 2021

OWC also announced several other products at CES:

The Envoy Pro FX rugged external hard drive, available in sizes from 240GB to 2TB, plugs into USB-A, USB-C and Thunderbolt ports. It'll be available in January. Costs are $169 for 240GB, $199 for 480GB, $299 for 1TB, and $479 for 2TB. The drives are resistant to dust and water and can transfer data at 2,800 megabytes per second.

The $65 USB-C Travel Dock E has two 3.2Gbps USB-A ports, one HDMI 2.0 port, an SD Card reader, a Gigabit Ethernet port and a USB-C port for connecting your laptop's power adapter. It'll be available before the end of March.

The U2 Shuttle, 3.5-inch drive enclosure that accommodates up to four NVMe M.2 flash memory based SSDs. The four storage modules can be connected as RAID devices for better data protection. The $149 U2 Shuttle, available in January, plugs into computers with U.2 port and into some OWC storage devices.

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