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1/9/2012
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CES 2012: Belkin Previews ThunderBolt Docking Station Prototype

Belkin is at CES 2012 showing off a prototype for a Thunderbolt docking station. On the input side, the docking station has connections for USB, HDMI, Ethernet, audio, Thunderbolt, and USB. On the output side? Just one Thunderbolt port for a Macbook.

Looking to capitalize on the rising popularity of Intel's Thunderbolt interconnect technology, Belkin International Inc. is at CES 2012 showing-off a prototype of a Thunderbolt docking station for Apple notebooks.

Like with USB, Firewire and other desktop/notebook periperhal interconnect technologies, it was only a matter of time before someone started to think about a Thunderbolt-compliant docking station. Blowing USB and Firewire away, Intel's Thunderbolt is a relatively new interconnection technology that can support transfer speeds of up to 10 G-bit/sec. Though Intel has reportedly claimed that Thunderbolt support will soon arrive on Windows notebooks, Apple is currently the only vendor to offer Thunderbolt-compliant systems.

According to Belkin senior global public relations manager Leah Polk, it's not certain whether the prototype on display at CES (see embedded video below) or some derivative of it will evolve into Belkin's first actual offering. At the time InformationWeek saw the prototype ThunderBolt Express Dock, it wasn't connected to anything. It's ability to work as advertised couldn't be verified.

Even so, Belkin is probably on the right path in terms of the technologies it has chosen to bridge to Thunderbolt. On one side of the docking station, there are 3 USB 2.0 inputs, and then a single input each for the following technologies: FireWire 800, 3.5mm Audio, Ethernet, HDMI, and a Thunderbolt input for daisy-chaining Thunderbolt devices (for example, a Thunderbolt monitor). On the other is a single Thunderbolt output that would connect to a host system.

Polk expects the Thunderbolt Express Dock to retail for $299.

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