Apple's new MacBook Pro lineup features no other type of port except a headphone jack and two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports for the base model, and four for the more expensive Touch Bar-spawning 13-inch and 15-variants.
The decision to erase traditional USB ports, an SD card slot and even the beloved MagSafe charging port has left many users scratching their heads. Apple sure has a proclivity for stripping away conventional ports, as with the absence of a headphone jack in its latest flagship, the iPhone 7.
Potential customers who plan on buying the new MacBook Pro models may not be entirely hopeless, however, that is if they're willing to shell out a few dollars to buy OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock, a omnibus-like dock outfitted with 13 different ports, allowing the MacBook Pro to connect with previously incompatible devices using only one dock instead of separate adapters that only have one function.
The Thunderbolt 3 Dock connects to a Mac using an included 0.5 meter, or almost 20-inch Thunderbolt cable. It can support two 4K external displays, up to six USB devices, an optical line out, a FireWire device and finally, an SD card, to the uproarious glee of photographers whose primary gear largely involves SD cards for storage.
There's not much to go in terms of the dock's aesthetics. OWC seems to have prioritized function over form with the Thunderbolt 3 Dock. That's not to say the device looks awful. It's a simple rectangular bi-colour brick with a multitude of ports on its back, and an SD card reader, a headphone jack and a USB 3.1 port on its front.
The positioning of the USB port in the front is an extremely handy way to connect a user's iPhone, because, yes, the iPhone doesn't natively connect to the new MacBook Pro. You're gonna need a separate adapter just to do that, which is very cumbersome and counterintuitive. Two Apple devices that can't readily integrate is such a blow to Apple's marketing, one that usually boasts a product that "just works."
There is also a S/PDIF port on the back for lossless digital audio signal transfers, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a mini DisplayPort and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.
The dock supports video pass-through up to 4K at 60 Hz thanks to the Intel DSL6540 Thunderbolt 3 controller inside the dock. Multiple lighting devices can also be daisy-chained together.
The Thunderbolt 3 Dock will require a power supply in order to fully operate. OWC are currently taking preorders for the device, which starts at $279, $20 less than its retail price. The device is expected to ship February next year. You can go to OWC's website and choose from three different preorder locations in the United States.
Apple has recently been the target of criticism following its decision to do away with ports in its new products, a trend that seems staunchly unwelcome by pundits and consumers alike because of the problems they create instead of solve.
"We know we made good decisions about what to build into the new MacBook Pro and that the result is the best notebook ever made, but it might not be right for everyone on day one," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP for Worldwide Marketing, in response to the criticism.