An Affordable Thunderbolt 2 Dock with 4K and Dual Display Support


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.

Making my own 1TB SSD Portable Drive


I was surprised to see how much the price of SSD’s (solid state drives) have dropped in price. I decided it was time to replace my slower portable drives with faster SSD ones. One thing I also learned a while ago is that many times it’s cheaper to buy the drive and buy external case to put it in, rather than buying a drive already assembled. I already a couple of generic USB 3.0 external cases that I picked up on sale at Micro Center. So I ordered this Crucial 1TB SSD drive.

Can the external hard drive case make a difference?


I put the SSD in my existing generic USB 3.0 external case. I formatted the drive and and copied the data to it from my existing external drive. All was well. Then I saw an ad for another enclosure by Inateck that claimed to be “Optimized for SSD”. I have seen firmware make a difference in the past with external drive enclosures, so I figured it’s possible that this enclosure could be faster. Since the price was only a few dollars more than generic USB 3.0 enclosures (under $20), I decided to try it and compare. The first thing I noticed that I really liked was the fact that you can install the drive without any tools. The cover comes off/unlocks by sliding it forward. Just plug your drive in and slide the cover back on. Then I saw the thing that I don’t like about this enclosure. I went to plug in my existing USB 3.0 cable that I’ve used on every USB 3.0 drive I’ve ever used only to see that for whatever reason they put a USB 3.0 A connector on the drive (the same one that’s on your computer). Granted they also give you the A to A cable, but it means that I would only be able to use that cable (or one like it) every time I use this drive. I’m still scratching my head over that one.

Next I decided to try a speed test. I had already tested the drive in the old case before taking it out and here are the results.


Then I plugged in the new enclosure with the same drive and and ran the same test and here are the results.


The Bottom Line

Going SSD is definitely the way to go if you’re looking for speed and better reliability over spinning platter drives. While the Inateck enclosure is slightly faster, I’m not sure that it’s worth it because of the weird cable needed to connect the drive.

You can get the Crucial 1TB 6Gbs SSD here.

You can get the Inateck SSD Optimized enclosure here.

You can get a standard/generic USB 3.0 enclosure here.


Standardizing on Hoodman Memory Cards and Photographic Accessories


When it comes to memory cards I have a variety of different brands. I’ve used SanDisk, Lexar, Transcend, and Sony. No problems to date with any of them. I usually buy the ones that are on sale at the time that I’m in need of new cards. With that said, there is something to be said for going with products that are trusted by the photographer community. While at Photoshop World in Vegas I was introduced to the folks at Hoodman by my friend Robert Vanelli. Sure I’d heard of Hoodman and stopped by their booth before at previous Photoshop Worlds. However, I hadn’t really paid that much attention to what they were really offering and how they differentiate their products from the others. One of the first products to catch my attention on this visit was the Hoodman Steel. First off they come with a lifetime warranty. Secondly they claim that they have the fastest camera burst rates and quickest download times (UDMA 7 at 1000x). Lastly they actually have steel in them to make them more durable. I was also impressed by the sheer number of photographers that I admire who use and vouch for these cards (many with video testimonials). By the way Hoodman isn’t sponsoring me or paying me in any way. I’m genuinely interested in their stuff.

Hoodman Steel 64GB UDMA 7 1000X CF Card Here

Hoodman Steel 32GB UDMZ 7 1000X CF Card Here

Hoodman Steel 64GB Class 10 SDXC Card Here.

Hoodman Steel 32GB Class 10 SDHC Card Here.


The next product I was interested in was their USB 3 Card Reader. This card reader is not only fast at USB 3 UDMA transfer speeds, but it’s durable because it’s made of steel. It’s also about the attention to detail. The CF slot has a door that opens automatically as you insert the card. This keeps the pins protected and dust free when not in use and when bouncing around in my bag. It handles both CF and SD cards.

Hoodman USB 3.0 RAW Steel UDMA Reader Here.


Lastly I was very interested in their loupes for viewing the LCD screen outdoors in bright light and for shooting DSLR video. I checked out the Custom Finder Kit. I already have a good loupe for still shooting and pro version for shooting DSLR video by another company. However, I couldn’t help but notice how much cheaper the Hoodman versions are. So I decided to give this one a try.

Hoodman Custom Finder Kit


The Bottom Line

I can’t say that this will be the last manufacturer that I use for these kinds of products. However, I’ll be using Hoodman memory cards and other products from here on out until I find a reason not to. I’m impressed by what they offer. I look forward to trying more of their product line and reviewing the results here.