USB Type-C is shaping up to be the holy grail of ports
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USB Type-C is shaping up to be the holy grail of ports
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The USB-C port first introduced by Apple in the new 12-inch MacBook looks likely to be used across the MacBook range as Intel has adopted the standard for Thunderbolt 3.
Thunderbolt was developed to simultaneously support the fastest data and most video bandwidth available on a single cable, while also supplying power. Then recently the USB group introduced the USB-C connector, which is small, reversible, fast, supplies power, and allows other I/O in addition to USB to run on it, maximizing its potential. So in the biggest advancement since its inception, Thunderbolt 3 brings Thunderbolt to USB-C at 40Gbps, fulfilling its promise, creating one compact port that does it all.¬†
Apple was an early adopter of the Thunderbolt standard, which allowed a single port to be used for both high-speed data transfer and DisplayPort monitor connections.¬†Intel’s integration of the two standards would allow Apple to replace the Thunderbolt port in the MacBook Pro range while still maintaining full compatibility with existing peripherals …¬†
Thunderbolt 3 doubles the speed of Thunderbolt 2 to 40Gbps, allowing high-speed transfer of large files, as well as support for high-resolution external monitors. Intel notes that the standard supports the simultaneous use of two 4K monitors at 60Hz.
An adapter will maintain compatibility with existing Thunderbolt 2 devices.¬†Intel says that the first Thunderbolt 3 devices will begin shipping “before the end of the year.”
While the development strengthens the case for USB-C, it’s unlikely that Apple would adopt the radical single-port approach for MacBook Pro machines, where it’s common for professional users to connect multiple devices simultaneously. We’re most likely to see the existing Thunderbolt port replaced with one or two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt capability.
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If you can‚Äôt beat ‚Äėem, join ‚Äėem. Intel has announced that its new Thunderbolt standard, the third iteration of the inter-connector, will use the USB Type-C connector‚ÄĒas well as boasting data transfer rates that allow it to drive two 4K screen simultaneously.
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USB-C is the sole port on Apple’s new¬†12-inch MacBook, and CalDigit today announced a version of its durable external drive that takes advantage of the new reversible USB 3.1 port. CalDigit Tuff features a USB-C port and cable for connecting the portable drive to the¬†Apple’s ultra-thin notebook, and an included adapter cable ensures compatibility with the USB port that you’re used to seeing on your hardware¬†as well. Since the new MacBook’s thin and light profile¬†intends for it to venture out¬†of your office and into the wild, CalDigit Tuff is ruggedized to endure drops, splashes, dust and other extreme environments.
CalDigit Tuff starts at $139.99 for 1TB HDD with availability starting in July (new MacBook orders currently deliver in 4-6 weeks). A solid state drive version with up to 1TB of storage will also be available while a higher capacity 2TB HDD option will be offered.
In addition to the durable Tuff USB-C portable drive, CalDigit also announced its new T4 nano storage solution with Thunderbolt 2.¬†While CalDigit Tuff is intended for use on the road, CalDigit T4 nano is meant for use by professionals especially with 4K video editing workflows.
The drive is a 4-bay RAID featuring four removable¬†PCIe SSDs. As the nano part of the name implies, CalDigit boasts a reduced footprint for the drive offering more desk real estate when in use. CalDigit T4 nano includes an HDMI port for connecting an external display directly to the storage.
CalDigit Tuff with USB-C features speeds up to¬†450MB/s with support already included for up to 550MB/s with USB 3.1 Gen 2 devices. CalDigit T4 nano with Thunderbolt 2 races at up to 1375MB/s transfer speed. Available in Q3 2015, CalDigit T4 nano will be priced at $2,499 for 2TB PCIe SSD.
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LaCie announced its new 4TB Thunderbolt/USB 3 Rugged RAID portable hard drive ($420 list, $399 Amazon) today, and I’ve had some¬†time to take it for a little ‘spin.’ There are two speedy 7200RPM 2TB portable hard drives RAID-ed together inside to give the device very impressive, almost SSD-like speeds but with the cost savings and huge storage¬†of portable hard drives.¬†At the same time, the package isn’t much bigger than a regular portable hard drive and better yet, it can take a serious beating…
The first thing you’ll notice is that the Rugged feels very similar to the rest of the venerable LaCie Rugged lineup, though it is slightly thicker and denser than previous single drive models ‚Äď as you’d expect.
LaCie has incorporated a built-in Thunderbolt cable which wraps around the edges of the unit and ends up being a foot in length whenfully extracted (see image below). The cable is the thinnest I’ve seen in power-carrying Thunderbolt and the power from a MacBook is enough to power¬†the drives.
The unit also has a USB 3 port and cable that somewhat awkwardly connects to machines that don’t have a Thunderbolt port (like Apple’s latest 12-inch MacBook and most PCs).
My 2014 15-inch MacBook Pro’s USB port didn’t supply enough power to spin up the drives; I had to use the included AC adapter which plugs in where the Thunderbolt cable rests. Awkward. See for yourself below:
The 4TB Rugged was easy to set up with LaCie Manager as an executable. Putting the RAID together was quick and easy. LaCie also installs Intego Backup Manager for you if that’s what you are into. I uninstalled immediately because I’m a Time Machine guy.
Partition-wise, the defaults make a PC-compatible 800GB partition and a 3.2TB Mac HFS partition. That use case made some sense so I went with it for the speed tests. I used the industry standard BlackMagic disk speed test which is used to check SSDs and hard drives for video editing on Macs.
I easily saw 250MB/sec speeds when using the built-in¬†Thunderbolt connector. That’s about half of the speed of high end, internal SATA SSDs, but still plenty fast for most regular video editing. If you use USB 3 or RAID 1 redundant mirroring, expect to see speeds in the 130-140MB/sec range.
For the heck of it, I dropped the drive a few times from counter height to see if the RAID configuration was any more vulnerable than a simple hard drive setup. After about five drops from counter height, the drives continued to work fine without a glitch. I wouldn’t recommend doing this on purpose with a RAID drive with important data on it, but it is good to know that you’ve got a good chance of data survival.
I’ve long loved LaCie’s rugged drives because they are made to be taken on the road along with all of the bumps and bruising that comes along with it. With the 4TB RAID version, LaCie adds incredible size and speed that video/imaging¬†professionals¬†and people with big backups/lots of storage needs will love. The price at $400 is significant but not at all insane when you consider the SSD-class speeds combined with the big 4TB size.
Any Mac/PC/Tablet With A Thunderbolt or USB 3/2* Port
LaCie Doubles Capacity of Rugged Thunderbolt SSD
CUPERTINO, CALIF. ‚Äď LaCie, the premium brand from Seagate Technology plc (NASDAQ: STX), announced today that its iconic Rugged Thunderbolt‚ĄĘ storage solution will be available in a 1 TB SSD capacity. With double the storage, the new LaCie¬ģ Rugged is just as portable with no size or weight increase compared to the 500 GB offering. Plus, it still features the lightning‚Äďfast transfer rates of Thunderbolt and is tough in the field with shock, dust and water resistance.
“My expeditions take me all over the globe so I need equipment that’s up for any terrain,” said photographer and National Geographic Expeditions expert Kike Calvo. “The LaCie Rugged is my go‚Äďto hard drive because its fast speeds help back up my work quickly, and its toughness has yet to let me down. With the addition of drones into my workflow, I’m creating more content than ever before. So larger capacity in the same reliable enclosure means I can take fewer drives and save valuable luggage space.”
The LaCie Rugged delivers speeds of up to 387 MB/s* ‚ÄĒ three times faster than a standard mobile hard drive**. With these speeds, creative professionals can transfer 100 GB in less than five minutes. The LaCie Rugged even provides enough bandwidth to review and edit photos or video in the field. With a laptop and a LaCie Rugged, a photographer or videographer has everything they need to back up footage or complete a project on location. This time savings and convenience is key for field‚Äďbased professionals.
“Wherever digital content is created and wherever our customers want to travel to capture and collect it, our LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt drive will go as the ideal companion,” said Erwan Girard, Business Unit Manager for LaCie. “With fast Thunderbolt speeds that save hours in the field and now a 1 TB SSD capacity, our customers can focus on the creative process instead of worrying about transfer times or storage limits.”
The LaCie Rugged is MIL‚Äďcompliant, which means that data is protected even during accidental drops of up to 2 meters (6.6 feet). With its cap in place, the LaCie Rugged is also IP 54‚Äďrated for superior protection against dust and water splashing ‚ÄĒ even during operation. Plus, it is resistant to vibration and shock and is tough enough to be shipped for reliable delivery to clients or partners.
With both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 interfaces, the LaCie Rugged is an ideal match for Mac¬ģ and PC users. The LaCie Rugged is fully bus powered through the Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 cables. Plus, the integrated Thunderbolt cable stows neatly when not in use, ensuring that it will never get lost or left behind.
The LaCie Rugged includes everything professionals need for secure backup in the field: a backup software suite and compatibility with Time Machine¬ģ and Windows¬ģ Backup. It also includes LaCie Private‚ÄďPublic software, which lets users password‚Äďprotect the entire drive or only certain volumes with AES 256‚Äďbit encryption.
See the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt hit the trail: https://youtu.be/c18vI-BYwrU
The LaCie Rugged features a three‚Äďyear limited warranty that includes comprehensive, complimentary web‚Äďbased resources, expert in‚Äďhouse technical support, and worldwide repair and/or replacement coverage. It is possible to upgrade this service with warranty extensions and fast product replacement.
The new 1 TB SSD version of the LaCie Rugged, design by Neil Poulton, will be available this month for $949.99 (MSRP) through the LaCie Online Store and LaCie Resellers.
LaCie, the premium brand from Seagate Technology (NASDAQ: STX), designs world‚Äďclass external storage products for Apple¬ģ, Linux and PC users. LaCie differentiates itself with sleek design and unmatched technical performance. Find out more at http://www.lacie.com.
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Despite USB 3.0’s growing popularity with consumers, Thunderbolt¬†remains a viable alternative¬†for professional users, particularly video makers¬†willing to pay a premium for¬†guaranteed high speeds. Over the past year, several Thunderbolt 2¬†hubs have come to market ‚ÄĒ¬†boxes with one Thunderbolt 2 connection to a computer,¬†one for a Thunderbolt accessory, and multiple ports¬†to connect¬†USB, audio, video, and Ethernet accessories. The idea: keep all of your gear¬†hooked up to the hub, then use a single cable to connect it all to your Mac.
Known for large, heavy, professional-grade Mac accessories,¬†CalDigit¬†has just released¬†Thunderbolt Station 2 ($199), which¬†squeezes the same functionality offered by Belkin’s $300 Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock HD and Elgato’s $230 Thunderbolt 2 Dock (review)¬†into a smaller, denser-feeling enclosure, at a lower MSRP¬†‚ÄĒ¬†sort of. In reality,¬†Thunderbolt Station 2 has some very specific benefits and one limitation that place it on par with its¬†competitors, making the choice between them a more personal decision…
Thunderbolt Station 2 doesn’t look like a typical Mac accessory: measuring 4.9″ by 3.8″ by 1.75″ and made almost entirely from brushed gunmetal-colored aluminum, it’s closer in design to a small Western Digital hard drive than a typical Thunderbolt hub. Despite the fact that it’s not a unibody-molded frame, it feels solid and¬†resilient, dispensing almost entirely with plastics. A small blue power light on the front turns on only when Thunderbolt Station 2 is connected to both wall power and a computer with a Thunderbolt port.
Unlike Belkin’s and Elgato’s Thunderbolt¬†hubs, which are much longer and only designed to be mounted horizontally, Caldigit places rubber on two of Thunderbolt Station 2’s sides: a large black pad on the “bottom” lets the hub stand upright like a mini tower, while two frosted white bars on the “right side” are for horizontal placement. Regardless of the orientation you choose, slippage and metal or desk scuffing are not going to be issues during normal use.
Thunderbolt Station 2’s¬†obvious¬†limitation relative to its competitors can be spotted in the photo above: unless you’re willing to pay $35 more than the base $199 price, Caldigit¬†doesn’t include a Thunderbolt cable. This brings its price up to $234, more than Elgato’s¬†MSRP for the¬†widely-available Thunderbolt 2 Dock – and a premium over¬†Elgato’s¬†current $200 street price on Amazon. In other words, Thunderbolt Station 2 is only the least-expensive Thunderbolt dock on the market if you self-supply a key piece necessary to use it. Who would have guessed that Thunderbolt accessory makers¬†would still be treating Thunderbolt cables as optional pack-ins, nearly four years after they were first released?
The unit’s back reveals its primary assets. Just like its rivals, you get a total of three USB 3.0 ports ‚ÄĒ¬†one on the front, two on the back ‚ÄĒ¬†plus two Thunderbolt 2 ports, an Ethernet port, an HDMI port (with support for 2K or 4K output), and a power input. Caldigit differentiates¬†Thunderbolt Station 2 with twin 6Gbps eSATA ports for hard drives, a feature Belkin and Elgato likely didn’t include because of eSATA’s already modest and declining¬†use in the Mac storage world. If you’re still using an eSATA drive (or two), this particular hub will let you connect it to any Thunderbolt-equipped Mac, though it will share the Thunderbolt 2 connection, reducing eSATA’s standard (unshared pipe) advantage over USB.
We had no issues with Thunderbolt Station 2 during hands-on testing. As was the case with other Thunderbolt docks we tested, each of the devices we connected worked as expected: clean HDMI output, fast Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0 transfers, and proper audio output to headphones.¬†The aggregate throughput performance of this hub is subject to the standard caveat that all of the connected devices are now sharing a single pipe into your Mac, so speeds will vary based on how many and what type of accessories are plugged in.
There’s also one small power-related wrinkle: Thunderbolt Station 2’s rear USB ports will not send power to external devices unless a computer is connected and turned on. Thankfully, the front port is continuously powered, so you can recharge either your iPad or iPhone even when there’s no computer attached and the front power light is turned off.
Thunderbolt Station 2 is a welcome¬†alternative to the Belkin and Elgato Thunderbolt 2 hubs that are already on the market. It’s definitely a winner if you’re looking for the smallest option, the hub¬†with the lowest MSRP, or the one with eSATA support ‚ÄĒ¬†any one of these factors might make a difference to you. But if you don’t mind a¬†larger¬†footprint and don’t need eSATA support, the $200 street price of Elgato’s¬†Thunderbolt 2 Dock¬†includes the Thunderbolt cable that Caldigit’s $199 bundle omits, and you’ll get nearly identical features. There’s no clear winner here, but you now have several¬†good options to choose from.
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Improving on the last generation Elgato Thunderbolt dock (review), today the company is announcing a refreshed model that includes Thunderbolt 2 technology and more at the same $229 price point of the last-gen model.
In addition to new possibilities for driving 4K displays and other devices over the speedier Thunderbolt 2, the dock also now includes, according to the company, ‚Äúamplified audio output as well as stand-alone USB charging.‚ÄĚ
A built-in HDMI port can drive any display of your choice up to 4K resolution, and three additional SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports assure that all of your devices are connected when you need them, at full speed and with up to 1.5A of power. Tap into the full performance of wired network connections with the built-in Gigabit Ethernet port, and enjoy crystal-clear conference calls through the separate microphone input and amplified audio¬†output.
As for the high-power USB, that means you‚Äôll now be able to charge an iPhone or iPad off the dock, or plug in an Apple SuperDrive or other devices that require bus-power. Elgato says that “Dual displays are supported when using HDMI and a Thunderbolt‚ĄĘ or Thunderbolt‚ĄĘ 2 display.”
The dock includes the same design and aluminum enclosure as previous models, and offers three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, and audio in/out alongside two Thunderbolt 2 ports.
Elgato’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock¬†is available from the company’s website and Amazon for $229 starting today and comes with an Elgato Thunderbolt cable.¬† It will also be arriving in Apple Stores in the coming days.
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Desktop fans have waited a long time for a Retina iMac, but it now seems pretty clear the wait won’t last too much longer.¬†Our sources told us last month that the machines are “in the late testing phases,” and the rumor is that the machine will have a 5K display, with a resolution of 5120×2880 – exactly double that of the current 27-inch iMac.
We may even have identified the specific display Apple intends to use: a 27-inch 5K panel announced by Dell¬†is looking like a very plausible candidate.¬†This panel¬†would provide a pixel density of 218 PPI, about the¬†same as that of the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro …
Assuming Apple does indeed launch the machine, there’s one immediately obvious implication:¬†we can expect a Retina Apple Thunderbolt Display using the same panel. I’ve previously suggested a number of reasons Apple didn’t immediately hop on board the 4K display bandwagon, but leap-frogging the competition with a 5K model would be another good one.
More importantly, a Retina display makes¬†sensible use of those extra pixels.¬†I’ve always felt that 4K¬†is way too high a resolution for a 27-inch display. Text is absolutely tiny when rendered at 3840×2160, as are many user-interface elements. To me, 4K made sense only as a TV or as an ultra-large display – one pushing the boundaries of what most of us would have room for on a desktop, even before we figure out how we’d ever pay for it.
But keeping the effective resolution at 2560×1440 while using the extra pixels to sharpen the display – that makes sense.
We can also expect a Retina iMac (or what Apple will doubtless refer to as the iMac with Retina display) to be a pretty high-spec machine.¬†Driving a 5K display at decent frame-rates is not a trivial task, requiring a beefy GPU.
A significantly more powerful GPU will obviously be accompanied by a matching CPU, and uprating the Thunderbolt port to Thunderbolt 2 then seems a pretty obvious step.
All of which adds up to¬†something rather¬†interesting: an all-in-one machine capable of meeting the needs of many graphics pros: photographers, videographers, designers and so on.
Now sure, there will always be those graphics professionals who demand¬†the very¬†best performance available, and have the budget to match. Those guys are still going to be hooking up that cute black cylinder to their multiple 4K (or perhaps now 5K) monitors.
But there are many others who are likely to look at a Retina iMac and note that they are getting a very capable machine with an ultra-high-definition screen in one package. For many, that might be good enough – raising the interesting prospect of an iMac cannibalising at least some Mac Pro sales.
Not that Apple will worry about that:¬†as Tim Cook observed when asked whether the iPad would eat into MacBook sales, you can’t be afraid of cannibalizing¬†your own products because if you don’t, someone else will.
But AV professionals can’t be the core target¬†for a Retina iMac.¬†It doesn’t make sense to offer two different lines aimed at a¬†niche market: Apple’s primary¬†target market has to be ordinary consumers and small businesses.
And I think that’s interesting in its own right.¬†The high-end Mac Pro market aside, the overwhelming trend seen for quite some years now¬†has been the death of the desktop PC and the triumph of the laptop.
For those who need lots of screen space to work with, a very common solution has been to connect a MacBook – sometimes even a MacBook Air – to an Apple Thunderbolt display to get the best of both worlds. A machine that is portable when it needs to be, yet offers all the display real-estate and permanent docking options you get with a desktop.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to question whether desktop PCs – OS X or Windows – have much of a future outside of the AV professional market.¬†Yet in planning a Retina iMac, Apple clearly thinks they do. The company whose co-founder famously described PCs as trucks and predicted that most of us would be choosing cars – or iPads – still sees a future in what might be considered a rather chunky truck.
We won’t have long to find out exactly what Apple has in store for us: we’re expecting the new iMac to be announced on Thursday, and we’ll of course be bringing you full coverage.
If you’ve been holding off on a MacBook Pro because you’ve been waiting impatiently for an iMac with Retina display, let us know your reasons in the comments.
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