Thunderbolt CF/SD Card Reader Solution On It’s Way

The new Thunderbolt standard, developed jointly by Apple and Intel, is an exciting prospect for media creation professionals of all sorts.  It allows a phenomenal data transfer rate that looks sure to change the way we think about computer peripherals.  As of September 2011 Apple has now added Thunderbolt ports to all it’s computers except the Mac Pro which is sure to follow shortly.  Like many other photographers though I have been eagerly awaiting some useful peripherals.  People “in the know” have suggested that Apple is currently charging a huge amount of money to license the technology though, meaning that consumer targeted solutions will be a while away.

Nonetheless, Thunderbolt peripherals are starting to trickle out and Sonnet Technologies are the first ones that I have seen who are offering a memory card reader solution.  In fact the way they have approached the problem is quite clever.  Essentially they have build a Thunderbolt enabled dock for existing expresscard expansion ports.  You can buy one of their Echo docks and then simply add to it the relevant expresscard adapter.  They have a dual compact flash card reader, an SD card reader and of course Firewire and all manner of USB and SATA.  This is clever because it means you only have to buy the dock once, thereby only sucking up the currently high Thunderbolt licensing fee just once, but allowing you to use different options plugged into it.

WARNING !  THIS IS NOT CHEAP !  The Echo dock is slated to ship in October for a cost of $150 , you will then need a Thunderbolt cable from Apple for $50 and a Sonnet CF card/expresscard reader for $100.  Yes that makes it a $300 card reader!!  More if you want to add other options.  Due to the high licensing cost though we are not likely to see mainstream manufacturers like Sandisk, Belkin etc offering a solution anytime soon though…

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Dan Carr

Founder of Shutter Muse, full time photographer and creative educator. Dan lives in the Canadian Yukon, but his wanderlust often sends him in search of images all around the world to meet the needs of clients and readers alike.

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