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Thunderbolt Cinema Display with USB 3.0

Belkin’s new Thunderbolt Express Dock offers impressive expansion capabilities, including three USB 3.0 ports. But it comes at a very hefty price on top of the cost of the display

When are we going to get USB 3 on the Apple Cinema display? I’m in the market to upgrade my old 24in Cinema Display but have been holding fire because I believe the existing 27in Thunderbolt monitor is due for update.

My old display is now seriously out of date. It occupies the single Thunderbolt port on my MacBook Air but, since it isn’t Thunderbolt enabled, there is no port for daisy chaining. If I want to attach a Thunderbolt backup disk I must first disconnect the display.[1]

The only option, although I have not tried it and am not sure if it would work for a display, is to stick the 24in display at the end of a Thunderbolt daisy chain. Perhaps someone who has tried this could let me know how it goes.

A friend suggested Belkin’s forthcoming Thunderbolt Express Dock as a solution. When connected to the output port of the current Thunderbolt display, this device, which is due in the UK next month at a cost of £280, would add impressive expansion.
In addition to a Thunderbolt port (for onward daisy chaining), there are three USB 3.0 ports, plus Firewire, Ethernet, eSATA and sound jacks. It sounds promising, but is an expensive addition to the already pricey display.

It is one solution, then, but it seems odd that Apple has not yet upgraded the USB 2 ports on the Thunderbolt Cinema Display. With iMac revisions due this autumn, which will certainly feature USB 3 ports, the hope is that they will take the opportunity to quietly slip in a Cinema Display upgrade.

  1. Annoyingly, not all Thunderbolt external disks include an output port which is essential for daisy chaining. My otherwise excellent Seagate Go-Flex thunderbolt adapter has no onward capability, so must always be at the end of the chain. The LaCie Little Big Disk drive which I use as the boot drive for my iMac is equipped with an output port.  ↩