Sonnet Brings New Powers To Thunderbolt With ExpressCard Adapter

Apple's Thunderbolt port may have brought with it a ton of hype, but thus far, there aren't too many actual peripherals to use with it. But of course, that's changing as time progresses. While it's most useful for connecting high-speed storage solutions right now, it'll soon become useful for who-knows-what. With that much bandwidth, the options are close to limitless. Take this newest peripheral, for example. Sonnet has just announced a new Echo ExpressCard 34 / Thunderbolt adapter that enables ExpressCards to connect to computers with Thunderbolt ports.

This is hugely useful for those who have upgraded their MacBook Pro to a Thunderbolt version, but in turn, lost the ExpressCard slot that was present before the "unibody" models took over (and swapped in an SD card slot). ExpressCards may not be nearly as popular as they once were, but there were quite a few useful applications. USB hubs, WWAN modems, etc. If you still have one of those peripherals, and need to use it with a newer machine that lacks an ExpressCard slot, here's your solution.

It is expected to be available at the end of October at a suggested retail price of $149.95. Hardly cheap, but hey, that's the price for keeping support around!

Sonnet Adapter Expands the Capabilities of Thunderbolt™ Technology-Enabled Computers

Sonnet's Echo™ ExpressCard®/34 Thunderbolt™ Adapter Enables ExpressCard/34 Cards to Connect With Computers Via Thunderbolt Ports

IRVINE, CA - August 25, 2011 - Sonnet Technologies today announced the Echo™ ExpressCard®/34 Thunderbolt™ Adapter, which enables the use of many Sonnet ExpressCard/34 adapters with computers equipped with a Thunderbolt port, including the latest Apple® iMac®, Mac® mini, MacBook® Air, and MacBook Pro models. ExpressCard/34 adapters, originally intended for use with notebook computers, offer users additional connectivity and functionality beyond what's available through their computers' stock configuration. This Sonnet adapter supports most PCIe-based Sonnet professional ExpressCard/34 adapters, and specialty adapters from other manufacturers. Sonnet expects other manufacturer's ExpressCard/34 products to become compatible as their drivers are updated to be Thunderbolt technology-aware.

Developed by Intel® and brought to market with technical collaboration from Apple, Thunderbolt technology supports high-performance data services and high-resolution displays through a single, compact port. The Echo ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt Adapter supports PCI Express® 2.0 technology with 5 Gbps throughput in both directions. The Sonnet adapter connects directly to a computer, or at the end of a Thunderbolt device chain with a Thunderbolt cable (available at the Apple Store).

"The Echo ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt Adapter gives users tremendous flexibility to connect a wide range of peripheral devices through the Thunderbolt port on their computers. In a single Thunderbolt Adapter they gain the potential to add connectivity to their computer, whether increasing the number of ports, incorporating new interfaces, or simply using devices they couldn't have otherwise been able to connect through a Thunderbolt port" said Robert Farnsworth, CEO of Sonnet Technologies. "Support for hot plugging and swapping of ExpressCard/34 cards gives them the flexibility to change interfaces and devices when needed."

"Sonnet's ExpressCard Thunderbolt adapter delivers great performance and flexibility", says Jason Ziller, Intel's director of Thunderbolt Marketing, "End-users will now be able to extend the capabilities of their computers like never before."

The Echo ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt Adapter supports Sonnet ExpressCard adapters ranging from CompactFlash™ and SDXC™ UHS-I Card readers to FireWire® 800, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and select eSATA adapters. It also supports ExpressCard adapters supplied with specialty devices like Sonnet's new line of Qio™ professional media readers, and the AJA® io Express.

The Echo ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt Adapter (part number ECHO-E34) is compatible with all Apple computers with Thunderbolt ports running Mac OS® X. It is expected to be available at the end of October at a suggested retail price of $149.95.