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25 Jan 2021
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Review: The OWC USB-C Travel Dock E 19 Mar 2021 11:35 #113520

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We bought the OWC USB-C Travel Dock E and took it travelling!

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Review: The OWC USB-C Travel Dock E 19 Mar 2021 23:03 #113521

Nice review! I had a similar issue here, and considered the OWC Travel Dock E as well. I've got a decent dongle or two for training purposes, but I usually edit at home. With my M1 MacBook Air being so silent and capable, I wanted to put it on a more equal footing to my iMac. They can share the same LG external monitor, but plugging and unplugging everything is always a pain, so a Thunderbolt dock was the solution.

Right now though, the Thunderbolt dock market is in flux, and none of the devices are perfect. There are new docks from Caldigit and OWC (and others) which do include multiple Thunderbolt ports downstream, but those tend to omit monitor connections in exchange, and they're pretty much out of stock everywhere. The older OWC and Caldigit docks are still out there, but tend to lack USB-C 10Gbps ports, which is the current sweet spot for storage that's fast enough but doesn't cost a fortune. (2TB Thunderbolt SSDs are sadly still very expensive.)

There's also an issue with the M1 Macs at the moment in that most USB drives are seeing substandard performance, 20-30% lower than the same drives on Intel Macs.

Plugable have a couple of TB3 docks which do solve some of these problems, though they don't offer downstream Thunderbolt ports, instead offering (a currently useless) second monitor option. These are hybrid docks, backwards compatible with USB-C systems, though they are true Thunderbolt devices on Macs. (There are tons of cheap hubs out there claiming to be Thunderbolt compatible while actually just being USB-C, so watch out.)

However, as these docks are newer, their downstream USB ports are faster (10Gbps) and my older Samsung T5 is seeing much higher speeds on my M1 than through a direct connection.

So, I bought the TBT3-UDC1, which does allow 10Gbps connections to USB drives on an M1 MacBook Air, through USB-A and USB-C ports. It charges while connected, and ethernet works (though I haven't tested speed yet!).

Looking at other options, the older Plugable TB dock (TBT3-UDV) doesn't offer any 10Gbps USB ports, but has one downstream TB3 instead. A newer Plugable dock (TBT3-UDC3) says in the specs that it doesn't offer 10Gbps connections on an M1 Mac, but hopefully that's an error. And of course you can spend more money on something like the TBT3-UDZ to solve all these issues (and add an SD reader) but that's out of stock entirely at the moment.

I suspect all these docks will soon be refreshed with the newest chipset to allow more downstream TB3 ports, but if you want one right now, you'll probably have to compromise somewhere or other. SD? USB-C ports? A monitor connection? Downstream TB3? You can't have it all.

Long story short: it's working well. A single port connects nearly everything to whichever Mac I want to use, and charges my laptop too.

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Last edit: by funwithstuff.

Review: The OWC USB-C Travel Dock E 20 Mar 2021 11:41 #113523

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I think the two are different types of dock. The one you have seems to be more suited to a static setup. It's also about three times the money!
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Review: The OWC USB-C Travel Dock E 20 Mar 2021 14:30 #113527

Yeah absolutely, definitely the two things are for different purposes. If I didn’t have a travel hub already then I’d be chasing this new OWC one.

And yes, more expensive too. Here in Australia, the Travel Dock is about $100 while the one I found is $265 and the TS3+ is $400. They can get pretty pricey.

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Last edit: by funwithstuff.
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