The step back has to do with the Belkin Thunderbolt Dock.

I mentioned in my earlier post about this device that due to its lack of USB 3 support in Windows 7 under Bootcamp I was considering letting my wife see if it would meet her needs on her MacBook Air.  So, last night, I set up the unit on her desk and hooked up her 11 inch MacBook Air to it when she got home.  She runs a dual monitor (24 inch Apple Cinema Display with a mini-display port as prime with a 23 inch Apple Cinema Display via a DVI/USB 2 adapter) set up that hooks up via mini-display port and USB.    I hooked both monitor as well as her other peripherals into the Belkin Dock and then booted up.  At first, it all appeared to work with no hitches, but then I discovered that when booting from a cold start, the second monitor, attached via the USB adapter, would not power up.  Unplugging the USB adapter and then reinserting it would solve the problem every time; but…again…the whole point of the dock was to eliminate plugging and unplugging things.  While the dock did centralize and slightly reduce clutter, in the end it once again did not eliminate having to plug in extra peripherals.  So, I have decided to return the dock and try to get a refund from Belkin.  I’ll keep you apprised about how that goes.

I suspect all these problems don’t suggest a fundamental design problem with the Dock, but instead center around hidden and minor problems pumping USB 3 inputs over the Thunderbolt bus.  I’m not familiar enough with the USB 3 specification or the Thunderbolt specification to go deeper than that, and I don’t have an Apple Thunderbolt monitor to play with to see if it acts in the same way.  But the whole experience makes me a bit leery of dumping big bucks into any kind of “all-in-one” Thunderbolt solution, as much as I might like to find one.

The one thing I would suggest as a needed design change to the dock is to include a front facing Thunderbolt port that would become the input port from the Thunderbolt Mac.  The pictures you can find on the web showing the cable from the Mac to the unit that appear to run to the front of the device show it running through a cable tray to a port that is on the rear of the device.  Most people who are going to be interested in this device are because they don’t have an Apple Thunderbolt monitor, and a lot of them are going to be running mini-display port monitors that plug into the Thunderbolt port, meaning that all Thunderbolt ports on the dock may be taken.

The step forward has to do with noticing that I was able to install a downloaded Mac OS 10.8.4 Combo Updater package on all my machines, including newer ones that have protested in the past that only the App Store could perform the updates.  This made downloading and installing the update a time saving and relatively painless process, as opposed to having to latch up to the App Store which each new machine, download a patch and wade through the installation for EACH one. I had been bitching at Apple about this for some time, and it appears they have listened.  Thanks, Apple!  It made my life with the App Store a bit more loveable.