Where are the Thunderbolt products?

Summary:Several commenters on yesterday's Thunderbolt vs. USB 3.0 post stated that there are no Thunderbolt products. In fact, there are hundreds of Thunderbolt products. You just can't afford them.

With prices ranging up to $7,000, these are products for skilled professionals, not hobbyists. Let's take a look at some of them.

AJA, a respected name in video production, offers a solid-state 4k video recorder for $4000 that isn't at Best Buy. Apogee Electronics offers a 64 channel Thunderbridge connection option for their multi-k dollar Symphony I/O series of audio preamps and A/D converters.

Avid, makers of the popular ProTools, offers a variety of analog I/O to Thunderbolt interface bundles that range in price up to $7000. Blackmagic Design, known for a wide range of lower-cost video products, offers a couple of $3k cameras, 3-D video capture systems, and a variety of other A/V interfaces that run natively on Thunderbolt.

Matrox, another vendor popular in video production, offers a variety of video interface converters as well as Thunderbolt docks. Mlogic, Sonnet, and Magma offer PCIe card cages so even the smallest Mac can support high-powered video or other specialized cards.

And there are dozens of Thunderbolt storage systems and devices ranging from empty cases up to large RAID arrays. Many, like the Drobo Mini, are designed for mobile pros.

But once you get back to the office with your tricked out Thunderbolt notebook, you're still covered. ATTO offers  Thunderbolt to Fibre Channel and Ethernet connections, while Belkin and others offer Thunderbolt docking stations.

And while every Mac - except the long-overdue-for-a-major upgrade Mac Pro - runs Thunderbolt, so do notebooks from Acer, ASUS and Lenovo. But Apple is all-in for Thunderbolt, another reason it owns the over $1k PC market.

The Storage Bits take

For professionals time is money. If a product saves them a few $250 hours, improves their quality, reduces their stress, or impresses clients, it's worth it.

And Thunderbolt enables some amazing feats. How about editing 4k video - 12 megapixels per frame - on a 3 pound MacBook Air? Most desktops can't even play 4k video.

USB is cheap and ubiquitous, and USB 3.0 is plenty fast enough for casual users. But professionals have more specialized and demanding requirements.

Which is why professionals will continue to rely on Thunderbolt products.

Comments welcome! Ironic that the 4k editing MacBook Air was running Windows.

Topics: Storage


Robin Harris is Chief Analyst at TechnoQWAN LLC, a storage research and consulting firm he founded in 2005. Based in Sedona, Arizona, TechnoQWAN focuses on emerging technologies, products, companies and markets. Robin has over 35 years experience in the IT industry and earned degrees from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton... Full Bio

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