MacBook Pro users are correct in crying out for the lack of ports — it’s one thing to be portable, but why should that come at the expense of connections that now require dongles and other machinations for plugging in drives and monitors and more? That’s where the value of a docking station stands out because it stays at home for when the laptop needs be a “desktop” without making sacrifices. But to be effective the dock had better both be heavy on modern tech as well as sensible tech, and certainly OWC’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock does that.
The Thunderbolt 3 Dock makes its single connection to a like-minded port on the MacBook Pro. The bandwidth of Thunderbolt 3 provides for a faster response between devices — which is the whole point of that single connection between dock and laptop or what would be the use? Once connected and powered up (via a separate “brick” power supply), all of the Dock’s 13 ports are now accessible. Place its sleek and svelte shape to the side of the laptop so you can access the front ports as these are likely to be inserted/removed most often. They consist of a SD card reader, whose use is obvious and an analog audio in/out which means a 3.5mm jack on a microphone will make a connection for inputting as readily as the 3.5mm jack on an external headset or powered speaker will be accepting audio output. There’s one more port on the front: a USB 3.1 which not only provides the fastest USB speeds (up to 5GB a second), but also is high-powered, meaning it has more of the electricity needed for charging mobile devices faster.
What gets connected to the ports on the back are less likely to be removed once plugged in, but are valuable nonetheless. On the back are 4 more USB 3.1 connectors (with one high-powered) and a S/PDIF audio out (digital for superior audio results). A FireWire 800 connector harkens back to the days when FW was a contender (there’s inexpensive F800>F400 adapters, btw), with an Ethernet connector for a wired connection which some might find more useful when traveling due to hotel/outside WiFi being slower than at home (so while many might ignore it in favor of their WiFi network, think of it as a freebie). The big guns then follow — 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports with the ability to deliver up to 40GBs a second. The side ends with a mini-DisplayPort for monitor use. As to monitors, you’ve the option of using a single 5K display (drool) or two 4K UHD displays (still drooling) or a combination of 4K, HD and other displays (time to wipe the face already).
OWC’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock comes in silver or space gray and retails for $299, operates at twice the speed of Thunderbolt 2 (i.e., being Thunderbolt 3 and all), and gives you all the above in a package that is unobtrusive while attractive. There’s even LED power and connection lights doing their thing from underneath, meaning they don’t stand out glaring to get in the way. And yes the dock is fully certified to work with Apple’s implementation of Thunderbolt 3, so no worries there.