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Apple ThunderBolt Hub And Dock Options Expanding

Apple ThunderBolt Hub Ports
The number of shipping ThunderBolt docking stations and device expansion hubs has grown rapidly recently. If you remember two or so years back, the world waited, waited, and waited for Belkin to actually ship it's announced, delayed, then revised the specs on it's multi-port ThunderBolt dock. Eventually Matrox beat them to the punch with the first devices that reached the market. Fast forward another year and we now have a half-dozen or more ThunderBolt expansion hubs from six manufacturers vying for consumer's wallets.

The current players now include Belkin, Matrox, Akitio, StarTech, CalDigit - and now ElGato. It should be noted that StarTech, CalDigit, Matrox and ElGato's products appear very similar; with Analog Audio In and Out jacks and a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port on the front -- with varying USB / FireWire / Ethernet / Video / ThunderBolt output interface configurations on the back.

It seems some are licensing a reference OEM design of some sort, and custom tweaking their port configuration choices somewhat. Check specs closely since some only have a single ThunderBolt port which doesn't allow easy pass-through daisy-chaining, others may have only a single USB 3.0 port but additional, slower USB 2.0 ports on the back. Some don't feature a FireWire port at all, but hubs featuring dual ThunderBolt ports might allow you to use one of them with a ThunderBolt to FireWire 800 adapter. Video support for DVI or HDMI might vary as well.

Of note, some of the newer models of these ThunderBolt hubs can properly support high-current device charging for iPads and/or additionally support devices like Apple USB keyboards or external USB-powered SuperDrive disc drives. ElGato and CalDigit offer such support for their ThunderBolt multi-port devices with an OSX 10.9+ software download available at their respective websites.