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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  • lilmoe - Saturday, January 14, 2017 - link

    Looks like I cracked a nut.

    "The Expensive Dell XPS 15".
    That "expensive" machine is pretty damn cheap compared to the latest Macbooks with the same specs.

    You could argue that you only need 1 TB3 port for a dock. 4 don't really matter when you don't have enough PCIe lanes. Enjoy your dongles for the rest of the ports, you'll need them.

    You could also argue that the XPS 15 isn't Dell's Pro line. If you want a real professional, ultraportable Dell machine, check out their Precision 15 5000 series, with Xeon CPUs and pro graphics that can actually drive 4 TB3 ports, which aren't needed ATM. Something Mac laptops never had. Just make sure you skip Skylake.

    Pros want their current equipment to work without fuss. They don't need Apple and/or other OEMs to tell them what they should, or shouldn't use.

    HPs and Thinkpads have similar models with "real" pro specs and features. So yea, nope, not your new shiny Macbook.
  • nerd1 - Monday, January 16, 2017 - link

    That's 100% BS. XPS 15 start at $999, and has 1050 GPU. I had no problem driving external 4K display with HDMI either.

    It's a big joke to use new macbooks for any professional usage. They are glorified ultrabooks, or macbook airs. Maybe just enough for journalist, but not for professionals.
  • Murloc - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    actually it is because if you want windows or linux you have a big choice of thick and thin laptops.
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Saturday, January 14, 2017 - link

    I think this is people trying to solve problems that don't exist. And Apple Air Pods work great. If you haven't tried them, don't tell us you know they suck. You don't know jack shit.
  • Inteli - Sunday, January 15, 2017 - link

    So you're telling me that having only USB Type-C ports isn't a problem, when there are MANY peripherals that still use Type A? You're surprised that people want to use their old stuff? Also, you don't have to own AirPods to figure out that small items are easy to lose, and that an item to keep them together would prevent you from losing one and making them useless.

    Someone seems extremely defensive today. Everything has problems, even Apple products.
  • helvete - Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - link

    Yeah, the airpods work great but the sound quality they produce is fairly inferior. It could suffice for watching films though..
  • tspacie - Saturday, January 14, 2017 - link

    As the former owner of an actual DEC computer, the name infuriates me.
  • 3ogdy - Sunday, January 15, 2017 - link

    Why did you buy the scaMBook Wanna-be Pro?
    Because it's new, it's fast, it's's über-thin!
    <a couple months down the road, same dumb customer>
    Why did you buy the DEC addon for the scaMBook Pro?
    Because it adds more functionality, more ports
    But didn't you have that with the old model?
    Yeah, but this one is thinner
    It WAS, right?
    Yeah, well....I'm a CrApple fanboi and I buy any PoS they release thinking it's "premium" bullshit.

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