Home Tech Thunderbolt: Cinderella of connectors

Thunderbolt: Cinderella of connectors


What is going on with Thunderbolt? Are the glass slippers about to shatter at the end of the ball? Macs have sported Thunderbolt ports since early 2011 and the old Firewire standard has been quietly dropped. But where are all the promised Thunderbolt accessories and peripherals?

For many Mac users, the Thunderbolt port remains unused, except as a means plugging in expensive adaptors to convert to Ethernet or Firewire. MacBook Air users have to choose between an external display or Thunderbolt disk, unless the disk has a second Thunderbolt port.

As far as I am aware, only Belkin has shown interest in producing a hub, When it was first announced, at $299, it had USB 2.0 ports in addition to Thunderbolt; then, in the middle of the year the price rose to $399 and USB was upgraded to 3.0. But still this dock with the gestation of an elephant has not materialised and I would not be surprised to find it has been quietly dropped.

Meanwhile, we have a few drives from LaCie, Seagate and others. All are expensive, especially when you take the obligatory extra $50 cable into account. Time was when a connecting cable was included in the box, but not with Thunderbolt.

I remain a fan of Thunderbolt because of the cracking 10 gigabit speed and the possibility of using it to power an external boot disk. My iMac has been running happily, and very quickly, on a 240GB SSD LaCie Thunderbolt drive for the past six months.

Despite all the good vibes, poor old Thunderbolt is looking a bit unloved. Unless something happens quickly, at least before the end of this year, many of us will be wondering if it is worth investing in the few Thunderbolt peripherals that are available.

Hello, Fairy Godmother, are you listening?

by Mike Evans, 29 September 2012