What’s Up Dock?
One of the least appreciated “improvements” made to computers has been the deletion of inputs for use by external devices, such as monitors and external hard/SSD (solid-sate) drives. For sure technology has improved to where some inputs can be considered legacy and so disavowed while other ports have been axed away altogether (SD card reader slots, we’re talking about you) — but for those looking to really take stock of what they can do this has been a disaster because there’s digital mixers and storage devices and headphones and SD cards and so much more that needs to be connected. And this shortage/lack of ports has been especially hard on laptop owners, who have had to juggle between, as an example, a port that needs to do double duty: being used at one time for charging the laptop and at another time for allowing data to be saved/transferred, but not both being able to occur at the same time.
So to the rescue came the “Dock”, a stand-alone device with a whole series of ports to take up the slack. And whether powered by electricity and so not as portable as could be hoped for, or truly portable, the dock solved the issue of external devices and the avoidance of ports doing double duty. But then a new issue came up — in that technology might have leapfrogged those ports the dock had and so it was not as compatible with devices out there as it could be. What was needed was a dock that lived at the top of the food chain. And of course chocked full of useful and powerful options for use once connected to the computer. That pretty much describes OWC’s Thunderbolt 4 Dock.
The Outside Defines The Inside
The Thunderbolt 4 Dock doesn’t try and reinvent the wheel; instead it makes that wheel spin insanely fast. Its shape is consistent with other docks, although it’s not as long so a bit more compact in design. Staying with the physical aspects first, color-wise it comes, but well colored for fitting in unobtrusively next to a laptop or desktop computer. An external power supply does a number on it — which is really useful because that means it not only, once connected to the computer via the Thunderbolt 4 cable, can transfer data to/from those devices it has connected to it — but also power can go into that laptop for charging it up.
So now lets drive-by the front and back where the ports live, but first a word about why Thunderbolt 4 has value. At its basic, T4 is the 4th iteration of the Thunderbolt data transferring technology. Created by Intel, it allows for the transfer of data at a far greater speed than those data transfer ports that preceded it. So while T4 continues to work at 40Gbps (gigabits pers second) speed of the T3 that came earlier, there are some additions to it now such as compliance with USB-4 and PCIe connectivity support up to 32GB/s. However it’s important to note that speeds are always based on the theoretical top amount and real-world applications tend to be different. Another thing that should be obvious is that the Thunderbolt technology has to be built-in — you can’t add T4 capabilities to a computer through a firmware addition.
Dock Front To Back
So peeking at the front reveals the Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) port, which is the one that is going to go between the dock and the computer. It’s also the one that can supply up to 90 watts of power. Moving from there we have a USB 2.0 (type-A) port but it does have high power charging (BC 1.2). The rest of what’s found on the front is not about data transferring: a SD 4.0 card reader slot and the analog input/output audio 3.5mm jack (you can plug in a headphones and listen in or plug in a microphone and speak out).
Moving to the back is where you’ll find the majority of the data transferring: there’s 3 Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports and 3 USB 3.0 Type A ports (handling 10Gb/s). This is also where the Gigabit Ethernet port will be found as are the two security slots (for attaching to a protective cable that can be wrapped around an immovable object); a Kensington Security Slot and a Kensington Nano Security Slot.
Don’t Forget The Display
The final advantage found in using this dock is what it can do for using high-resolution/multiple displays: connecting to a display through T4 (or a USB-C display adapter) you get the choice of either having a single 5K, 6K or 8K display (operating at 30Hz) or 2 4K displays with each going up to 60 Hz.
The OWC Thunderbolt 4 Dock comes with the needed T4 cable as well as the power supply and quick start guide. It’s designed to work with Mac models and Thunderbolt 3 equipped Mac models running macOS 11.1 Big Sur or later, with support on Windows PCs with Thunderbolt 4 ports.For more details go to https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/owc-thunderbolt-dock