At CES, Mac accessory and upgrade supplier Other World Computing (OWC) showcased prototypes of an upcoming add-on for Apple's latest MacBook Pro models. The OWC DEC is in many ways similar to their existing line of USB and Thunderbolt docks, with one big difference: the DEC is intended to travel around with the computer instead of staying at the desk.

The DEC is OWC's answer to the declining expandability, upgradability and connectivity of the MacBook Pro. The DEC occupies the same footprint as the MacBook Pro and attaches to the bottom by replacing the screws that hold the bottom cover of the MacBook Pro in place. To install the OWC DEC, users will not have to open up their MacBook Pro, only remove Apple's screws and screw the DEC on to the bottom of the machine. The DEC's data connection will be provided by a small bridge connector between one of the MacBook Pro's USB-C connectors and the DEC.

OWC has been working on the idea of the DEC for several years, but the latest generation of the MacBook Pro has made the DEC a priority. The DEC will provide many expansion options that have been removed from the MacBook Pro line over the years, at the expense of making the machine heavier and thicker—but no worse than what the MacBook Pro itself was several years ago. The exact configuration of ports has not been finalized, but at a minimum the DEC will provide USB type A ports, gigabit Ethernet and a SD card reader.

The DEC will also offer internal storage expandability by accommodating 2.5" drives and potentially M.2 SATA SSDs. OWC is also considering a version of the DEC that will use a Thunderbolt 3 connection to the host machine rather than USB, which would make M.2 PCIe storage possible but also make the DEC substantially more expensive.

The fit and finish of the prototypes OWC had at CES was poor, but only because the prototypes were very early mock-ups. Despite the obvious tool marks on the bare aluminum and the use of a black plastic covering for the bridge connector, the DEC felt solid and showed attention to detail with recessed sides that don't block the speakers or vents and an overall shape that matches Apple's industrial design.

The first version of the DEC will be available this spring for the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, both 13" and 15" models. OWC is also working on a model that will include an extra battery and deliver power to the host system through the USB-C connection. This model is expected to be available later in the year. Pricing has not been announced, but the base model will almost certainly be more expensive than OWC's existing USB-C docks that retail for about $150.

Source: OWC

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  • rtho782 - Sunday, January 15, 2017 - link

    This is the eternal september of the real world. Reply
  • nagi603 - Saturday, January 14, 2017 - link

    Yeah, thinness in laptops and mobiles is just the stupidest choice to go for in regards to productivity. I actually tested an old laptop with 99Wh laptop back around 2014. It lasted the day with work. We need more like that. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    That's an interesting design idea and a creative way to solve the problems created through lost functionality thanks to Apple (and many other OEMs) being fixated on making thinner computers and using a millimeter or two of reduced thickness as a selling point to justify the latest model to an audience that may not understand the benefits of upgraded internal components.

    Smoothing out the bridge connector so it isn't a snag prone, make it USB-C and slap in an extra battery and you've got a winner. Maybe OWC will develop a similar solution for a few other popular laptops out there and there'll certainly be a market for this kind of hardware until technology evolves to make the shedding thickness thing less of a problem.
    Reply
  • p1esk - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    This ugly hack better provide a week of battery life, in addition to all those extra ports/storage. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    This is a very early prototype so they'll probably improve the look/feel of it before it goes into production. Reply
  • britjh22 - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    This is the equivalent to the companies making Airpod straps, great commentary of just how ridiculously far Apple has taken the form over function mentality. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    It's sadly not just an Apple thing. Reply
  • sorten - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    It's mostly an Apple thing. The Dell XPS line and the HP Spectre still offer a full range of ports. Reply
  • lilmoe - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    It's primarily an Apple thing. Other companies with similar products do offer alternatives better catered towards real professionals. Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Saturday, January 14, 2017 - link

    Four USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports offer more professional performance than ANY PC laptop. The Expensive Dell XPS 15 has only one Thunderbolt 3 port. And the only significant port it has is HDMI, and even there it's only HDMI 1.4 with no support beyond 1920x1080. Your "Real Professionals" argument is total bullshit. Reply

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