Thunderbolt 3 docking stations have proven to be game-changing devices, allowing both MacBook and Windows 10 laptop owners to essentially transform their portable computers into desktops. With a single cable, you can charge your notebook plus connect multiple accessories, such as a mouse, keyboard, monitor, and more.
Plugable is a name that has become synonymous with quality docking stations, and today, it launches its latest such Thunderbolt dock. Called "TBT3-UD1-85W," it offers one USB-A and one USB-C on the front. On the rear, the dock features USB-A, Gigabit Ethernet, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3, TB3 Host, and dedicated headphone and microphone jacks. As the name of the product implies, it provides 85 watts for charging,
Well, folks, the Thunderbolt 4 revolution is just about here. Some computers with Intel's 11th-generation Core processors (Tiger Lake) will offer TB4 ports, and eventually, devices that can actually take advantage of the standard will be hitting the market. For the immediate future, however, Thunderbolt 3 will still reign supreme. Thankfully, TB4 is backwards compatible with TB3 (and uses the same USB-C connector), so your existing gear should continue to work fine.
If you are chomping at the bit to see some actual Thunderbolt 4 devices, I have some great news. Today, the typically Apple-focused company, OWC, unveils the Thunderbolt 4 Hub for Windows 10 devices. Essentially, it turns one TB4 port into three (no daisy-chaining needed), while also offering a USB-A port (3.2 gen 2) for good measure.
Thunderbolt 3 has been a game-changer for many consumers, allowing them to connect very powerful docking stations and fast external SSDs to their laptops. While the third-gen of Thunderbolt has been more popular than previous generations, it still hasn't gained huge adoption by computer makers. Sure, Apple and some Windows laptop manufacturers have embraced it, but good ol' USB-A still reigns supreme. It doesn't help that most AMD-powered computers don't have TB3. This will likely change when Thunderbolt 3 is folded into the upcoming USB 4.0 standard.
Intel isn't satisfied to rest on its laurels, however, as it is continuing to push boundaries. Technology must be moved forward, and today, Intel officially announces Thunderbolt 4! And yes, it uses the same USB-C connector. If you are concerned about all of your existing Thunderbolt 3 devices becoming obsolete -- don't be. Intel promises all TB3 and USB-C devices will be compatible with TB4. Best of all, TB4 will add protections to help prevent the kind of vulnerabilities found in TB3.
If your laptop has Thunderbolt 3, a compatible dock can transform it into a desktop. With only one cable connecting the notebook to the dock, you can then connect multiple peripherals, displays, and storage solutions, such as USB mice, keyboards, and external hard drives -- all while charging. While they tend to be pricier than normal USB docks, they are totally worth it.
Today, Belkin unveils a new such product called "Dock Core" that it claims is "the world's first Thunderbolt-certified, dual-powered dock." What does that mean, exactly? This Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core is bus-powered, meaning that it can be powered by your laptop -- no additional power source needed. But also, the dock itself has a USB-C port for power delivery, meaning you can charge your computer through the dock while only taking up one TB3 port on the notebook. Very cool.
Thunderspy vulnerability in Thunderbolt 3 allows hackers to steal files from Windows and Linux machines
Security researcher Björn Ruytenberg has revealed details of a vulnerability in the Thunderbolt 3 standard. The security flaw means that it is possible for a hacker with physical access to a computer to copy data even if the files are encrypted and the computer is locked.
The vulnerability affects all systems with Thunderbolt ports that shipped between 2011 and 2020, but some systems that shipped since 2019 have Kernel DMA Protection which means they are only partly at risk. Testing tools are available for both Windows and Linux so you can check to see if your computer is vulnerable.
Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C are both great interfaces, but there is a problem -- they share the same connector. While Thunderbolt 3 computers can interface with USB-C devices, computers that only have USB-C cannot interface with Thunderbolt 3 devices. While this is easy for technology enthusiasts to understand, it can cause confusion for the average consumer. When wanting to buy a docking station, for instance, a shopper may accidentally choose the wrong one. Thankfully, there are docks these days that can work with both.
Today, popular company Plugable launches its latest such product. Called "TBT3-UDC1," this docking station is optimized for both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C computers (on both Windows and macOS). This isn't just helpful to unsure consumers, but also, it can be great for businesses and families that are utilizing both computer types. Since the host port is on the front, users can very easily plug in without having to worry about compatibility. It has all the ports you need too, such as Ethernet, 3.5mm audio, USB-A, USB-C and dual DisplayPort. While it does lack an SD card reader, you can easily add a dongle such as this one.
ProGrade Digital unveils Thunderbolt 3 CFexpress+XQD reader and USB-C Dual-Slot CFexpress+SDXC reader
For most home consumers, when you need to read a card from your camera, you just insert it into the reader on your laptop. This is typically an SD card reader, although many newer computers are doing away with them. Instead, you must purchase a USB reader -- they are plentiful on sites like Amazon, and very inexpensive too. But what if you are a professional photographer? Well, then -- you might not be using SD card at all. Instead, you could be using CFexpress or XQD.
The company ProGrade Digital has a new card reader that is sure to excite professional photographers. The "PG04," as it is called reads both CFexpress and XQD cards using the super-fast Thunderbolt 3 connection. For those not yet using TB3, the company also releases the PG05.5 -- a USB-C reader for both CFexpress and SDXC.
If you own a Thunderbolt 3 computer, and you have a need for external storage, I highly recommend you buy a TB3 solid state drive. The speed provided by a Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD is simply amazing -- it puts a USB hard disk drive or external SATA SSD to shame.
Aren't sure which model to buy? You should check out our review of the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD here. The drive is fast, well-built, and very attractive. The problem? It is a bit expensive -- although worth every penny (if you can afford it). For instance, the 1TB variant costs $299, while the 2TB model is $499. If you don't need that much capacity, and would rather save some money, I have some good news. Starting today, Plugable is launching a 512GB version of its popular drive that costs less than the two aforementioned models.
If you have a laptop with Thunderbolt 3, and you like to use the computer as a makeshift desktop, a docking station is a must-buy. Whether you own a Mac or Windows 10 notebook with TB3, one of these docks can transform your portable computer into a powerful and useful desk-based workstation. A single wire from the docking station to the computer will provide you with numerous ports, plus charging. It is immensely convenient to plug in one cable and immediately have access to a mouse, keyboard, large monitor, etc.
There are many Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C docks on the market these days, but thanks to the Intel Titan Ridge chipset, there are now models that can accommodate both of those connectivity options (such as this one from StarTech). Plugable has a new such model, and it looks incredible. It has one big feature that many other docks are lacking -- an SD card reader on the front. Taking it a step further, it even has a dedicated micro SD card port! That is very cool, as it means you can read the smaller card without the need of an adapter.
PC gamers used to turn their noses up at laptops, as they weren't capable of playing top-tier games. While most gamers still prefer desktops -- which are more powerful -- there are notebooks that are capable of running modern PC games. Thanks to Thunderbolt 3, laptop owners can even expand their machines with high-end devices, such as PCIe-based storage and even graphics cards.
Today, Seagate unveils two new products that laptop gamers will want to keep an eye on -- the FireCuda Thunderbolt 3 Gaming Dock and FireCuda 520 PCIe 4.0 SSD. What is a gaming dock? Well, it is your typical TB3 docking station, but also, it houses a 4TB HDD for storing your games. It even features adjustable RGB lighting -- something many gamers love. As an added bonus, it also has a PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD expansion slot, but it is only Gen3.
Portable solid state drives are great, as they are fast and very reliable since they have no moving parts. They are particularly useful for content creators, as they often have a ton of media that they need to access quickly. Currently, the best option for those wanting fast external storage is an NVMe drive connected with Thunderbolt 3. If you own a computer with TB3 from manufacturers such as Apple, Dynabook, or Dell, you should absolutely try and get an external SSD that can maximally utilize it.
Today, Plugable is launching such a drive, and it is quite incredible. The drive comes in two capacities -- 1TB and 2TB -- and offers insane read and write speeds. How fast is it? It is rated as being able to exceed 2800 MB/s read and 1800 MB/s write. I've been testing the 2TB variant of the drive lately, and I can confirm that it is fast as heck -- but that's not all.
While 4K monitors are finally affordable these days, it is important to remember that they are not all created equally. There are varying specifications and features, plus different levels of quality. Ultimately, you should buy the 4K display that best meets your needs. If you are simply using it for computing and consuming media, you can probably get by with an inexpensive and basic monitor. Professionals, however, will need to focus on something more high-end.
Today, Dell announces an insane monitor for professionals that should make both photographers and videographers giddy. Called "UP2720Q," this 27-inch UltraSharp 4K display features Dell's 10-bit PremierColor technology and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity -- the latter can charge a laptop (up to 90 watts) over TB3 too.
Unless you are a gamer or enthusiast, owning a desktop computer these days is sort of, well... stupid. Look, even if you do most of your computing at a desk, you should still buy a laptop. Why? Think about it -- a desktop keeps you tethered to one place, while a notebook is portable. Thanks to Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C, you can use your laptop as a makeshift desktop by using a docking station. In other words, you can connect your notebook to a monitor, keyboard, mouse, web cam, external hard dive -- pretty much anything you need. The dock will charge and power your computer too. A traditional desktop is very limiting.
One such docking station that piqued my interest recently is a Thunderbolt 3 model by StarTech.com. Called "TB3CDK2DP," it has a very unique feature -- it is compatible with USB-C laptops that are lacking TB3. In other words, if you have a Thunderbolt 3 laptop, this dock will work in full TB3 mode. If you have another computer that only has a regular USB-C, however, it will function in a USB mode. This essentially gives you the best of both worlds. I have been testing this docking station extensively with a MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3, as well as a Windows 10 laptop and Chromebook that only have USB-C and not TB3. Unfortunately, I do not have a Windows machine with Thunderbolt 3.
Dynabook Tecra X50-F is a premium 15.6-inch Windows 10 laptop with Thunderbolt 3, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5
Toshiba laptops are wonderful. Well, they used to be at least. You see, Toshiba essentially sold its US laptop business to Sharp, who then renamed it to Dynabook. So, technically, Toshiba laptops no longer exist, but they live on under the Dynabook branding.
Dynabook is marching forward with new laptops, and today, it announces an absolute stunner. Called "Tecra X50-F," the business-class Windows 10 Pro notebook features a 15.6-inch screen in an incredibly thin and light package -- 17.6mm thickness and weighing just 3.13 pounds. The chassis is made of durable magnesium, and it is MIL-STD-810G rated. X50 has very modern features too, such as two Thunderbolt 3 ports and Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax). My favorite aspect, however, is the convenient privacy cover for the webcam! Sometimes it's the little things, folks...
Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C use the same connector, but the interfaces are not identical. Thunderbolt 3 is much faster than both USB 3.1 gen 1 and gen 2, for instance. And while all USB-C devices are compatible with Thunderbolt 3 computer ports, TB3 devices are not compatible with USB-only ports. Confusing, right? If you are a BetaNews reader maybe not, but think about the average consumer -- this can be very frustrating.
Shopping for docking stations in particular can be overwhelming. What if your home or business has users that want to use the same docking station at different times, but some machines are USB-C only and others are Thunderbolt 3. Sure, a USB-C dock would work, but then the TB3 machines wouldn't be reaching their full potential. Well, the folks over at StarTech.com have essentially solved this dilemma with a new product. The "TB3CDK2DP," as it is called, is a hybrid Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock!