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back to article Byte-dock MacBook Pro port replicator

Apple dallied with dockable laptops in 1992, with the first PowerBook Duo, but by 1997 the idea had fallen out of favour. Owners of laptop Macs have had to hook and un-hook cables themselves ever since. No longer. Enter Techne's Byte-dock - yes, it's a naff name - a new line of docking stations for unibody MacBook Pros of all …

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Anonymous Coward

Really cool dock

not having it yet and cannot be for some reason imported by my local apple dealer in Europe so he just gave me the tip:

http://www.hengedocks.com/

look very good, maybe you could review that too.

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Cheers!

That'll be my Christmas present sorted!

Always wanted a proper desk dock for my MacBook and that is just perfect and with a decent price as well. Had an original Powerbook Dock years ago and loved it.

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Cool or not...

...Steve doesn't want you to use a dock - There would be docks with an apple logo for sale if Steve approved them. He doesn't.

- Macbooks gather a lot of heat when the lid is closed. The forums are full of warnings that overheating is a reality.

- When the lid is closed the laptop enters power saving mode unless using 3rd party hack.

And of course there's the legion of Appletards who claim that docks are useless anyway if you happen to ask for them.

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Got one, and it is really good (although still really expensive).

Bought it from Amazon.co.uk who also shipped it to Spain gratis :)

I would suggest that you buy a spare power supply though if you might want to take you lappy walkies sometimes.

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FAIL

@Sadtitz

"...Steve doesn't want you to use a dock - There would be docks with an apple logo for sale if Steve approved them"

So why is it that you can buy them from the Apple store then? (although not this one, or the henge dock, but some horrible looking "designed" dock.)

"When the lid is closed the laptop enters power saving mode unless using 3rd party hack."

No. If you have an external keyboard and monitor and are running from mains, the MBP stays working when you close it, and switches to the external monitor. There are also apps that let you close it and keep on processing but without an external keyboard and screen.

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Overheating

"- Macbooks gather a lot of heat when the lid is closed. The forums are full of warnings that overheating is a reality."

^^^THIS^^^

Because they don't want to despoil their perfect design with ugly things like a proper cooling system, a lot of Mac laptops I've seen (all of them?) vent hot air through a slit in the lid hinge. This is stupid enough to start with, but then you close the lid and block/redirect the vent. Even on a 5 year old MacBook I've got here, it happens.

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"There are also apps that let you close it and keep on processing but without an external keyboard and screen."

Right, those would be the 3rd party hacks he mentioned.

It still astonishes me that Mac OS X lacks basic things like proper power options and a "lock screen" command...

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News to me

Sorry, but I've run my Macbooks for extended times whilst closed and I've never had a single problem with them.

As for getting them to run whilst closed, simply plug a usb drive into them whilst they are asleep and closed, and if they have a screen and power attached they will wake up without problem.

Having said that - once mine is docked, it'll never be turned off. What's the point? It uses next to no power and there is no problem with it staying powered. I really don't understand why people turn their machines on and off all the time when they can stay powered and use very little in power.

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Flame

I thought there could be issues running a mac book closed like this? The cooling on these is very well hidden/integrated and pulls air through the keyboard and out of the screen hinge. Which is why there isn't an option to disable sleep on lid close in OSX. Or at least there wasn't in Snow Leopard, I haven't checked Lion. You had to install a tool like InsomniaX to make it available.

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Happy

Works in Lion

Lion allows you to run in so-called "clamshell" mode - i.e. with the lid shut. I believe there was a way to force SN to wake up in clamshell too, certainly I've seen these docks around prior to Lion's release.

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I run my Macbook closed a lot of the time, it's no issue at all. The laptop does sleep when you close the lid, but pressing any key or mouse button you've got plugged in wakes it back up against instantly.

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Henge Docks

If you're after a cheaper model... take a look at the Henge Docks. The connectivity can be a little ugly - lots of cables streaming out the back, but it works in the same way, but does do power pass through.

The only slight gripe I have is that it does mark the case a little with repeated docking and undocking. Oh and the laptop has to be on and hibernating/sleeping as you obviously can't power it on with it shut!

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Anonymous Coward

@Scott Mckenzie

Scott, I have owned a Henge dock and I can tell you they do not do pass through power. You have to purchase another power supply and a small pieces of plastic that comes with the dock is then used to keep the power supply in place in the dock.

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Given that one of the selling points of a Macbook Pro is the amazing screen (and often upgraded to a better-than-standard resolution) I can't see this being a great device. Most people I know with Macbooks use them with a second screen only for dual screen functionality, not as a replacement.

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Sorry, but I find the screen only average. It only has slightly better than sRGB, and is very difficult to calibrate, because it always wants to be too bright. Also the 15" MBP only has slightly more resolution than my phone (the 17" is OK). However at least you can by a non-mirror finish one :)

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Has nobody heard of Hengedocks?

Hengedocks (hengedocks.com) have been around for a few years, come in sizes to fit all the unibody macbook pros, are half the price of Byte-dock, and don't require you to plug in the power connection before you insert the mac.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes but you have to built it yourself

At least witht he Byte-dock it is ready to go I have one and the simplisity of it is great coupled with the functionality. Hengedock of which I have owned 2 have both broken. This one feel 10 times more sturdy. The power in the Henge is only held in with a little plastic clip that is extra as well plus this measn you loose your £35 magsafe cable. At least with my one of these when I use it I can take the cable out and take it with me unlike the henge dock.

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I think the better form of "dock" will be a port replicator making use of the thunder and lightning port that the newer machines have. Don't have to jam it in a dock and mark the case, don't need to get one specific to your machine etc.

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Bug ugly

"it's not what you'd call polished."

Definitely not. It's what I'd call bug ugly.

What part of "Apple stuff needs to look cool" don't they understand?

It's neither a triumph of functionality (lack of USB hub, messy power connection), nor a must-have piece of Apple eye candy. So it fails on function AND design. Quite some achievement.

Roll on version 2.

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Anonymous Coward

How does this fail on functionality?

The thing is a stand with external ports. 66% of MacBook Pros as in the 13" and 15" only come with 2 usb ports why do you need more and if you want more then go and buy a hub. Why does it need to be in the dock? Have you got one of these? If not then how can you comment on the functionality of it?

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Paris Hilton

crazy

Am i the only person who thinks that is the stupidest dock in the entire world?

A straw poll of the office laptop dock users suggest that all users want access to the Laptops own display.

Why are there only two usb connectors? If there is one thing i have noted over years of computer use, it is that you can never have too many USB connections.

Also do the vents for the cpu etc not exit via the back of the case? IIRC these would be blocked when the lid is shut? I dont have access to my MacBook right now to confirm.

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Anonymous Coward

USB ports

The 13" and 15" MacBook Pro only have 2 ports and if you wanrt a hub then why would you not buy one to go with it?

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Devil

Close but no cigar

That will not appeal to Apple usual audience. While functional it does not match the overall design of a Powerbook.

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Holmes

Closed lid

On my Macbook Pro (Snow Leopard), I couldn’t find a native way to prevent the laptop sleeping when the lid was closed. I use a third party app (Insomnia) but considering the way this dock is meant to be used, is there a native way (or is there in Lion now)? I could easily have missed something obvious though, it’s been known to happen once in a while…

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You need to set up Bluetooth to wake the Mac; the Apple-recommended procedure is to boot the Mac, plug in the mains and then close the lid - you then click the mouse button to wake it up.

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I must admit...

... to spending £35 on a stainless steel stand, which doesn't even have the port replication and so, frankly, replaces just putting the thing down on a surface. But it does look nice.

http://twelvesouth.com/products/BookArc_for_Air/

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Aesthetics

Am I alone in thinking that this looks a little ugly? Apple seem to spend a long time on making their stuff look pretty (definitely form over function), so who's going to want to shove it, end-wise, into a black lump of plastic? Even the 'cheap-as-chips' Kensington jobbies we have at work add a bit of style to the less-than-attractive Lenovo StinkPads we use, so I'm sure designers can come up with something better than this.

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What about the power button?

There seem to be several of these docking stations appearing, but none of them address the fundamental problem with using a Mac notebook in the closed position - you have to open it up (and hence undock it) every time you want to turn it on.

Apple's "solution" is to leave the notebook in sleep rather than shutting it down, but I tried this for a month or so, and every now and then, your Bluetooth devices fail to wake it, so you have to pull it out of the dock and open it up so you can reboot it.

Until someone puts a power button on the dock, I'm not touching one...

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Anonymous Coward

Obsolete, OK. Ugly, not so much

New Macbook Pros have Thunderbolt so this is only useful for owners of previous models. That's still a large group of people.

It's less certain how many of them will want something that takes its design cues from an after-market spoiler for a Morris Marina.

Maybe if it was for a Dell

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FAIL

Bingo

I was thinking nearly the same thing, but more to the point that for over £100, you'd expect it to use Thunderbolt for the connectivity expansion, rather than physical extensions.

I could do much the same thing as this with a bench vice, some padding, peripheral extension cables and a jigsaw, for a fraction of the price.

And the bonus is, I could claim it looked hideously MacGyvered as a post-modern retort to the Macbook Pros clean design. Whereas this thing just looks a bit crap.

Steven R

(grumpy)

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I own one

Let me tell you I have owned one of the first ones of these from the priority purchase scheme they ran. This dock does work with thunderbolt without and issue. I run my Thunderbolt display through it and then daisy chain it on to a RAID arrary and it works like a charm so it is not only for older MacBook Pro it work with the newest ones as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Questionable Comment

Thunderbolt cannot be used for expansion because it does not supply any form of power. So you have to wonder how the hell usb devices would work on that are you not, without a powered hub. Maybe it does not look the best but it is a damm sight better and cheaper than some of the other docks available and when you actuall think about it for what you get (and I know as I have one) you get a £20 minidisplay to HDMI cable and delivery anywhere in the world all in the price. You seem to have been some what narrow minded when slating this product before actually trying one.

Also how do you know they have not gone for the "MacGyvered" post modern retort. Apple make things in black like.....oh yeah.......the iphone and Apple TV.

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Angel

Thunderbolt?

Fair enough, I haven't used one so I can't comment on Thunderbolt.

However...

"Also how do you know they have not gone for the "MacGyvered" post modern retort. Apple make things in black like.....oh yeah.......the iphone and Apple TV."

Yeah, but they don't look...just awful, like this does - in my humble, and obviously highly subjective opinion.

That said, if you guys are happy, you're happy - not my kettle of carp though.

Steven R

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FAIL

Beauty

Is in the eye of the beholder..

To be honest, for £150 that has to be the ugliest port replicator/docking device I have ever seen, not to forget the added failure of no in built charging either, even though the article makes this out to be "Apple's fault"

I'd expect better for that kind of money, but to be honest, I'd rather lay my MacBook flat and live with the cabling than plug it into that shoddy plastic effort.

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Having a laugh

£150 notes for a port replicator that is massively compromised and lacks even a USB hub?

You can get bog standard laptop docks that do more for 20% of what this costs.

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FAIL

A sharp edged, black plastic piece of yuck isn't exactly compatible with the modern Apple design ethos...

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Dynadock

probably a better option is the Dynadock ... I use one (though in Bootcamp mode so I don't know if OSX drivers work) - single USB connection and you get to use the laptop screen as well

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how much?!

At £150, this is about £100 more than i would expect to pay for what is effectivly cable extentions and a stand.

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Best avoided

The problem with this dock is it can only be used in clamshell mode, and on the newest most powerful MBPs you really aren't going to want to do that. The reason is because the main air intake is the keyboard, so running anything demanding in clamshell can lead to overheating.

See for instance http://www.marco.org/2011/09/20/heat-and-fan-issues-with-2011-15-inch-macbook-pro

I guess if you have the 2010 or older model then it might be ok.

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Anonymous Coward

Temps while closed

Cloudgazer,

If you look on the Byte-dock site you will see that they have performed tests with the laptop closed and open and compaired it to Apple spec that they set for operating temps. That info can be found in the FAQ section on their site. Also if the MacBook is not supposed to be run in clamshell mode then why in Lion have they designed it to be run in such a way???????? Can you answer that.

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"Owners of laptop Macs have had to hook and un-hook cables themselves ever since."

Funny, BookEndz have been building dock/replicators for Apple laptops for a long time... Had one on my old iBook G3 and G4

http://www.bookendzdocks.com/

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Go

Eh.

It's certainly an interesting design, style choices aside for the dock itself.

As far as a dell docking station being made in that style? most of the dells for corporate use (their latitude line specifically) have a docking station option, with a connector on the bottom of the laptop for the more traditional horizontal style of docking station. (there's also a style of docking station with a monitor stand on it as well)

One thing that I do wish that Apple would do is license the friggen magsafe connector, or have some non-apple company design one that skates around apple's patents on it.

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I have a 2011 13" MacBook pro and now a Byte-dock.... I have no idea what a clamshell mode is. But I will say, I plugged my Mac into the dock and it works fine.

I'm running a 26" 1080p Lg monitor and the graphics are amazing, as the reason I got a MacBook! It happens to be black, so the dock doesn't look out of place next to it.

If you were one of the first to follow this product on facebook (I am a geek, and I did) you would have seen the pole they did for the colour. Black was by far the best, in my opinion!

I agree that it costs a load, but then so did my MacBook... I am happy to pay for something that works.

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FAIL

Whats the point?

I don't see the point of this device...

No support for thunderbolt, as used on the new macbooks...

No USB hub...

No integrated power, so fiddly to connect it up separately...

Lots of connectors, so if you insert the macbook wrongly you might break the connectors...

Macbook will get quite hot with the lid closed, no extra cooling?

Do the audio connectors support optical? The macbooks do, but does this dock disable that feature?

You'd probably be better off buying an Apple monitor, then you just need connect up thunderbolt and power from the monitor to the laptop.

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Apple have just released a new dock - the new Thunderbolt display. All USB, Firewire and ethernet cables are plunge into the monitor, which in turn connects via Thunderbird to the notebook, while also providing the power. Course, it's a bit more expensive than the kit being reviewed....

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still waiting for...

optical, magsafe thunderbolt.

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Monitor spanning

No ability to use the internal screen and and external one means its a non-starter for me. What's the point of docking it and losing screen real-estate?

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Anonymous Coward

used to think like that too

until i got the big imac. i don't need two screens anymore and sometimes the system seems to know to open the new window in the other half of the screen. so if you have a really big screen you don't need actually the screen of the laptop anymore. except if you put a lot of weight on the maximizing feature on one screen as opposed to resizing it yourself.

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Docking

Apple did not really abandon the dock, but moved from a dedicated dock to variations on the dock built into the display.

As far as heat issues, I used my old powerbook in clamshell mode sitting on a wire grid, and all was mostly ok. It got hot but the room it was in was never well cooled. I think that this vertical presentation would minimize excessive heating quite well, assuming a good air flow.'

I don't know if this would help the average user. Wireless internet, wireless sound, most people do not use firewire or thunderbolt. That is two plugs, power and USB, assuming one has a powered USB hub, which one should have anyway to protect the computer from overheating.

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