Apple is widely expected to update its Mac lineup next week at WWDC, including bringing Intel's Ivy Bridge processor to its popular MacBook Air line. One feature that's less certain (though still possible) is the long-awaited inclusion of a USB 3.0 port. And wired Ethernet? Definitely not going to happen for ultraportables. That's why, as someone who uses a MacBook Air as a primary work computer, I'm excited for upcoming Thunderbolt Docks from Matrox and Belkin. Both are scheduled to be released in September, though differ in the number and types of ports offered and expandability potential.
Matrox's DS1 dock, announced yesterday at the Computex convention, expands one Thunderbolt port into an array of useful jacks, including a DVI video connector, gigabit Ethernet, and three USB ports (one USB 3.0). Unfortunately, the DS1 doesn't offer the ability to add more Thunderbolt devices to the end of the chain, so you can't add more Apple monitors or even other docks to it. Matrox has priced the DS1 at $250.
Belkin's Thunderbolt Express Dock is a little more interesting. Originally announced at CES with USB, Firewire, HDMI, and an additional Thunderbolt downstream port, Belkin just announced that it's beefing up its dock with three USB 3.0 ports, eSATA, and a full 10Gbps Thunderbolt stream. That also bumps up its expected price from $250 to $400. Whether or not USB 3.0 comes to this upcoming generation of Macs, these docks look very attractive for anyone who owns an existing MacBook Air. I'll definitely be looking to buy one of these, depending on my need for a Thunderbolt passthrough.