For years now my MacBook Pro has been my primary computer. Now my only desktop computer is my Mac OS X Server. Having a MacBook Pro doesn’t mean that I don’t have a ton of peripherals that I need to connect. The last thing I want to do when I leave or return from a trip is connect a bunch of cables. That’s where a Thunderbolt 2 dock comes in. Although I’ve used a Belkin one for years now, people are always asking for a lower priced alternative. Elgato has created one the fits the bill nicely. For a hundred dollars less than the competition you still get 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports, 3 USB 3.0 ports, 1 HDMI port, 1 Gigabit Ethernet port, and an audio in and audio out port. Really the only thing missing is more USB 3.0 ports and a legacy port like Firewire 800 or eSATA. Since I connect more than 5 USB devices anyway I would still need a USB 3.0 hub. Also most people at this point have probably replaced their older Firewire 800/eSATA devices with newer tech. If you fall into that category then I would save save the hundred bucks and use part of it to buy a USB 3.0 hub.
The design is nice and compact and it’s great having the audio ports on the front as well as the 3rd USB 3.0 port capable of charging your mobile device.
The Bottom Line
If you have a MacBook Pro then having a Thunderbolt 2 dock is a big plus. You’ll enjoy the single Thunderbolt connection and the additional ports. The one thing I wish that these devices offered are more Thunderbolt ports. You really don’t gain any because you have to connect the dock to one of your existing ports taking up a Thunderbolt port on the dock and one on your computer. That leaves you with the same number of Thunderbolt ports that you started with. I would like to see a model with 3 or 4 Thunderbolt ports for true Thunderbolt expansion.
You can get the Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock here on sale.
For a few bucks more you can get this one by OWC that has 5 USB 3.o ports and a Firewire 800 port.
I love home automation products. My first X10 remote controlled lights date back to the early 1980’s. Long before smartphones and bluetooth wireless. I always thought it was cool to be able to remote control several lights, appliances, etc. all from one control pad or timer module. I haven’t looked that the advancements that closely over the years, but when the Elgato Avea came across my review desk I was excited. The Avea Dynamic Mood Light is a 7W bluetooth controlled LED lightbulb. Unlike other products on the market this one doesn’t require a network connection or any other hardware to drive it other than your iPhone or iPad. Once you take it out of the box you merely screw it in to any standard light socket and set it up with the App on your iPhone. Rather than go into more detail via text, check out this video of how it works:
I was so happy with the review unit that I immediately ordered another one for another room. I was also pleasantly surprised to see and use the Apple Watch support. Being able to turn lights on and off as you walk around from your wrist adds another level of convenience and cool factor. I was also pleased to see that the lights can be controlled from either device at any time. When it comes to the iPhone vs. iPad vs. other iPhone, whoever opens the App first has control. This eliminates the pain of having to constantly unpair and pair differing mobile devices. My only two complaints are that I wish they offered a higher watt (brighter) version and that they made the app easier to control different lights than it is now. While the bulbs are plenty bright when using the “white” color setting, they colored settings/moods can be a bit dim. The App does allow you to turn on a mood for one or more lights at the same time, it seems like that control is buried another level deeper in the mood presets. I would like to see this setting moved up in the UI. My gripes are very minor. I’m very pleased with this product and will probably order more of them.
You can get the Elgato Avea on sale here.
You can never have too much storage and fast external storage is even better. A few years back I bought the first Elgato External SSD and my only complaint with it was the fact that it only had a single Thunderbolt port. That pretty much killed the use that I thought I would have for it which was to boot from it during certain presentations. Since the MacBook Pros back then only had one Thunderbolt port I couldn’t connect the drive and an external display/projector at the same time. Fast forward to today and the NEW Elgato Thunderbolt Drive + and while we still get a single Thunderbolt port, we get the addition of a USB 3 port as well as great performance in an external portable hard drive.
I ran the above speed test on the 512GB model connected and the results were respectable!
What’s in the Box?
You can choose between the 512GB model or the 256GB model. Both come with a USB 3 cable and Thunderbolt cable. The metal enclosure is very solid and sleek unlike many of the plastic USB 3 cases.
The Bottom Line
While it’s great having a FAST portable SSD that can be connected via USB 3 or Thunderbolt, the only issue with this drive is the cost. If you want quality vs. cheap, then this is the one for you.
You can get the 256GB model here or the 512GB model here.
I’m always in search of the fastest portable external drive I can find and I think I found it. I got the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD 240GB drive. It is by far the fastest portable external hard drive I’ve ever used, rivaling the speed of my internal SSD drive. Typically I use an external drive to boot from while running beta software or beta OS’s. While I’m testing things like Adobe CS 6 I want it to perform as fast as it does when I’m booted from my regular internal drive.
The Elgato Thunderbolt SSD Portable Drive is FAST, but has a flaw
While this drive definitely has the speed I’ve always wanted, it doesn’t come cheap. It comes in two flavors. There is a 120GB version for $429.95 and the 240GB version for $699.95! Those prices are crazy, but they are what they are. While the price could be a big showstopper for many, the price is not the flaw I was thinking of. The one problem with this drive is that it only has ONE Thunderbolt port. That doesn’t sound like much of a problem except that Apple uses the Thunderbolt port on MacBooks to also connect mini-display adapters too. This means that I can’t have the drive plugged in AND a projector. That kinda kills it for me for using this drive when doing live presentations.
This and other Thunderbolt devices need to have two ports. You need the ability to be able to pass through to a second device or display. Apple did a good job in putting multiple ports in their Thunderbolt Display and Belkin is coming out with a $299 Thunderbolt hub (it also has Firewire 800 and other ports to help justify the price), but we shouldn’t need a hub just to hook up a display and a drive. Other than this flaw, there is no doubt that the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD drives is one of the fast bus powered portable hard drives that you can get.
You can check out the Elgato drives here and here.