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Apricorn's (http://www.apricorn.com) Aegis Netdock -- Mac Edition is making me rethink some future purchases. It actually has me considering a MacBook Air as my main Mac.
As for the Apple US$79 SuperDrive, forget it. The Aegis Netdock blows it away.
The Mac Edition of the Aegis NetDock is an ultra-compact 3-in-1 USB docking station that combines a four-port USB hub, a space-saving vertical stand, a dual layer DVD burner and 1TB hard drive in a footprint smaller than a stapler. It's designed especially as an accessory for a MacBook Air, which has no optical drive and a small solid state drive.
The Aegis NetDock -- which costs US$229 for a1TB model, which is what I took for a test drive -- adds desktop functionality with a single USB connection. Of course, it works with any Mac, but it's a near-perfect complement to the Air line.
With the Aegis NetDock's dual layer recording engine you can record up to 8.5GB of data per DVD, virtually doubling data storage capacity on a DVD recordable disc from the single layer recording capacity of 4.7 GBs. With the optical drive, you can play and burn CDs and DVDs from your Air.
Fully compatible with Time Machine, the Aegis NetDock's built-in hard drive comes in a 250GB ($189), 500GB ($199) or 1TB version. The Aegis NetDock is also available without a hard drive for $69. The open enclosure enables you to add or change out the hard drive and fits any 2.5-inch, 9.5mm SATA hard drive.
In addition, the Aegis NetDock's energy efficient design incorporates an auto inchesOninches and inchesOffinches feature. It automatically turns on when connected to your MacBook and powers down the Aegis NetDock down when it's not in use. The two inchesalways oninches USB ports makes the NetDock is perfect for charging USB devices, such as iPhones, iPods and iPads.
The Aegis has a candy-red enclosure that looks rather sporty. However, some folks may not like the fact that it doesn't match aesthetically with the silverly hue of all current Macs. Thunderbolt connectivity is lacking -- though considering the cost of the few Thunderbolt drives on the market, the Netdock would probably be too pricey if that feature were included.
Still, with the Aegis NetDock and the rumored 15-inch MacBook Air (or, better yet, a 17-inch MacBook Air), I might consider replacing both my 27-inch iMac and 11-inch MacBook Air with a larger Air, the Apricorn docking station and a Thunderbolt Cinema Display. That is, unless Apple comes out with an iMac with TV capabilities, as I think it may (see http://www.macnews.com/2011/12/09/imac-tv-functionality-im-there).
Rating: 9 out of 10
-- Dennis Sellers