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Re: Matrox DS1 Thunderbolt docking station

COW Forums : Matrox Video Systems

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Andy MeesRe: Matrox DS1 Thunderbolt docking station
by on Jun 14, 2012 at 7:34:04 am

Yep. Have to say I had mixed feelings about this little box when I first read about it. Seemed like yet another "end of chain" device in a growing sea of end of chain Thunderbolt devices, and I was thinking it would really need to have Thunderbolt passthrough if it was going to compete successfully against the (also pre-announced) Belkin Thunderbolt dock ... but after a bit more thought I think I might have begun to guess at what the Matrox design brief must have been for this unit, and the appeal of it has definitely grown on me.

For a quick comparison, Belkin's device offers 3x USB3.0 ports (not 1x USB3.0 and 2x USB2.0), it adds both a FireWire and an eSATA connection, plus it has the much vaunted Thunderbolt passthrough. It doesn't have a dedicated monitor port though, and crucially it costs a hefty $400 USD, which is $150 more than the Matrox DS1.

Dissecting it all a bit, when I take a look around the local computer malls it seems to me that USB3.0 has long since won the general purpose external storage market battle for consumers, and so I'm not really so sure that the majority of "potential" long term dock buyers and users (with their fancy new Thunderbolt computers) would necessarily be looking for legacy external hard drive support (which for most users would be what the FireWire and eSATA port would be for) ... and rather than spend an extra 150 dollars to get that support, it seems to me those same users might just spend that 150 dollars on buying new USB3.0 gear (or for the techy geek ones a USB3.0 bare drive dock or similar) instead.

For me then, the Matrox DS1 as a single cable tethered dock, offers a single USB3.0 port for fast modern and cost effective external storage / peripheral needs (portable or otherwise), then there are 2x older USB 2.0 ports which makes perfect sense for adding a wired keyboard and mouse or other older wired peripheral devices (pen / tablet etc?) to the would be desktop station, and then of course you've got the wired Ethernet port and the audio connectors which you'd also probably want and need for any good tethered dock.

Regarding the missing Thunderbolt passthrough. Mmmm, I'm disappointed ... but in reality, if it were there (as with the Belkin dock), then I think I'd most likely be using it to just plug in my desktop monitor (using Display Port) anyway, and as the DS1 already offers a dedicated DVI port for plugging in that display then maybe I don't really need it? I haven't convinced myself yet, but I'm beginning to.

So as a pure "dock" aimed at the general budget conscious user, I'm thinking that Matrox just might have got this device spot on ... and yes, certainly after looking at the landscape now following the latest Apple laptop releases, the DS1 would seem to be offering the best bang for my own docking buck.

That said, I'm hoping they won't rest on their laurels, as I reckon there's definitely a market for a "DS2" as well, to which they are welcome to also add a Thunderbolt hub, eSATA, and FireWire, not to mention HDSDI and some XLR I/O, though I suppose none of that is likely to appeal to your average corporate laptop user :-)

Just my 2c

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