Thunderbolt 3 Dock helps you get the most out of your MacBook Pro

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Accessory maker Elgato unveiled its new Thunderbolt 3 Dock at CES, offering a way for users to connect a pair of 4K displays to their new MacBook Pro, in addition to plenty of other legacy connection options.

Costing $299, it promises to stand in for the plethora of dongles you’ll need as the tech world makes the jump to Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C.

It comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a single DisplayPort, three USB 3.0 ports, microphone jack, headphone jack, a gigabit Ethernet port and more.

At its price point, this is probably going to be aimed at higher-end “pro” consumers, but it’ll certainly save you the hassle of having to sort through a ton of adapters to get the most out of your new MacBook. There’s sadly no SD card reader, though.

Elgato’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock is set to arrive in Apple retail stores this month.

HomeKit extender

The Thunderbolt 3 Dock isn’t the only nifty Apple-related product Elgato is debuting at CES. Its Eve Extend device also offers a means by which to extend the Bluetooth range of HomeKit devices by connecting to your home Wi-Fi.

That’s particularly useful if you have a big house, or simply want to place HomeKit-compatible devices on the edge of your Wi-Fi network. You can operate multiple Eve Extend devices at the same time — and even use them to control connected devices outside your home, provided that’s not out of range.

No pricing has yet been announced.

Hands-On With Elgato Smart Power and Mophie Powerstation Plus External Batteries.

While there are an endless variety of external batteries on the market capable of charging iOS devices while on the go, two recent entrants at the higher end of the market are giving consumers more options as they consider holiday gifts.

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Elgato Smart Power (left) and Mophie Powerstation Plus 2X (right)

The first is Elgato’s Smart Power, a 6,000 mAh external battery priced at $99.95 $79,95 with this offer. Housed in a compact plastic enclosure that is slightly smaller than and roughly as thick as an Apple TV, Smart Power’s key feature is app integration on iOS that allows users to wirelessly monitor charge level of the battery and initiate pinging sounds by the Smart Power unit to help locate it in the house.

Notifications are also an important part of the app integration, with users able to receive push notifications when the battery has been recharged or is running low. Users can also set a specific time for automatic daily power level checks and receive reminder notifications if the charge level is below a user-defined threshold. Finally, users can grant the app access to their Calendar apps, allowing Smart Power to automatically remind users to take the device with them on busy days.

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Elgato Smart Power app

Offering adaptive charging at up to 2.4 amps and 12 watts, Smart Power can quickly deliver charge to high-capacity devices such as iPads. The device includes an integrated USB connector on a short cable for recharging, but requires a separate cable connecting to a USB port to connect to the device, so users will need to make sure they have one with them when traveling with Smart Power. For those who prefer to quickly check battery level without opening the iOS app, Smart Power also includes battery level lights on the unit itself.

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Elgato Smart Power charging an iPhone 6 Plus

Smart Power worked well in our testing, recharging itself and charging devices at a reasonable rate while the notifications and app integration proved very handy for monitoring battery status. The size and shape of the Smart Power made it easy to slip into a bag for traveling, but carrying it in a pocket is a bit more touch-and-go. While the battery is roughly the same width as an iPhone 6 Plus in a thin case (and substantially shorter obviously), the thickness of the device makes it somewhat uncomfortable unless relatively loose-fitting pants are worn. And with a separate Lightning cable also needed, the Smart Power is undoubtedly best suited for carrying in a bag.

A second recent addition to the high-end external battery market is Mophie’s Powerstation Plus, which was introduced a few weeks ago in a range of capacities. While Powerstation Plus lacks the handy app integration of the Elgato Smart Power, the multiple capacities and high-quality aluminum covers with hideaway cable management may be appealing to some users, although some may be hesitant to put the aluminum edges in close proximity to their devices.

The smallest Powerstation Plus, known as 2X, is roughly the size of a deck of playing cards and offers 3,000 mAh of charge for $79.95. A thicker 5,000 mAh 3X model is also available for $99.95, and coming soon are even higher capacity models including a 7,000 mAh 4X model for $119.95 and a 12,000 mAh 8X model for $149.95. While substantially larger in size than their smaller siblings, the 4X and 8X models include an additional USB port for charging multiple devices simultaneously.

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Mophie Powerstation Plus 2X opened to show integrated cables

One significant advantage for the Powerstation Plus over Elgato’s Smart Power is an integrated device cable, a short Lightning cable that makes it easy to charge devices on the go without worrying about having a separate cable or getting a longer one tangled. Micro-USB versions will also be available for non-Apple devices, but those do not begin shipping until December 17 and only then with the 2X and 3X variants.

As with the Elgato Smart Power, Mophie’s Powerstation Plus offers 2.4-amp adaptive charging and button-activated lighted charge level indicators. And with pass-through priority charging, users can connect the Powerstation Plus and an iOS device in series to a USB port or charging adapter, with the Powerstation Plus allowing the iOS device to fully charge first before charging its own power pack.

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Mophie Powerstation Plus 2X charging an iPhone 6 Plus

In our hands-on time with the 2X Powerstation Plus, we found it quite convenient to charge an iPhone while holding both devices in one hand for those times when an extra charge is needed while using the phone on the go. The compact design with hideaway cables is very nice for sticking in a pocket or bag, although at only half the capacity of Elgato’s Smart Power, it is unsurprising the Powerstation Plus 2X is less bulky. We do have concerns about the metal covers potentially scratching other items, so it seems best to carry it alone in a pocket or a separate bag compartment unless kept with other non-scratchable items.

The Elgato Smart Power and Mophie Powerstation Plus do not come cheap, but with some good features and well-known brands behind them, they will undoubtedly be popular options with consumers.

Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ SSD review.

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The design of the Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ SSD has a very simple design, much like other drives available in the market. It is a solid black rectangle with two ports for the custom USB 3 cable and another for the Thunderbolt cable (signified by the Thunderbolt logo). One thing that truly sets this drive apart is the all-metal design which reminded me a lot of Apple’s black anodized Macbook that it once had available for sale. Somehow, the black metal still accented my all-silver Macbook Air, and overall the setup looked very synchronized. One thing I really enjoyed was that the drive didn’t pick up a whole lot of dust (unlike the top shell of my Macbook) when it rested on my desk for a week.

Thunderbolt Drive+ SSD Usability and Speed

Using the Elgato Thunderbolt Drive was very simple, especially because it came with two different cable options. I opted to use the Thunderbolt port, despite my Macbook offering USB 3 as an option as well. The Thundebolt offered transfer speeds up to 420 MB/s, and after about 7 days of use I found that the Elgato Drive popped up on my desktop much faster than the average hard drive and was much faster via Thunderbolt than the USB 3 port option. On the first day I received the review unit, I transferred my entire music library (a whopping 21GB) and found that it transferred onto the drive in under 1 minute and 40 seconds.

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This is truly a record, as my other external hard drive took almost twice as long, if not longer. I did notice during a Time Machine backup that when the Thunderbolt cable was plugged into the port it would heat up just a bit. I assume this is because of the amount of data moving and how fast the thin cable is transferring it, especially because I did not experience this same issue with the USB 3 cable that Elgato also includes with the Thunderbolt Drive+. The drive itself is completely silent and doesn’t have that weird “gravity effect” that most hard drives have, mainly because of the solid state storage on which my data is stored.

Thunderbolt Drive+ SSD Review Conclusion

Overall, the Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ SSD had a very easy set up and transferred at much greater speeds than your typical USB 2 or non-Thunderbolt hard drive. Up until last year, I relied on a USB drive that contains about 100GB of storage, and after using the Elgato drive, I’ve seen just how fast Thunderbolt really is. Of course, it is a lot faster than a USB drive or a USB 2 external hard drive, and the combo of SSD and Thunderbolt is truly where the future of storage lies.

Though this external drive is a solid option for users—with a configuration of up to 512GB SSD as well as  Thunderbolt and USB 3 as cable transfer options—the price might drive many away from buying this drive. Elgato prices the 256GB SSD at $500, while the 512GB option will cost you about $900. I don’t know how many users will opt for a external drive that costs almost as much as their Macbook, but youwill get what you pay for. Ultimately, you’re paying for the ability to be able to carry 256 or 512GB of solid state storage, which does not come cheap in today’s market.

Source: AppleTell.