Landing Zone Dock Turns A MacBook Air Into A Mini Mac Pro [Review]

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Landing Zone byLanding Zone
Category: MacBook Docks
Works With:MacBook Air 13-inch
Price: $200

My 13-inch MacBook Air is a fantastic portable computer – fast, light, crazy battery life and with a “bigger” screen than my old 13-inch aluminum MacBook[1]. But as a desktop computer it sucks: only two USB ports, no Ethernet, and a tiny amount of storage.

Which is exactly why the Landing Zone exists. It’s a dock that stays on your desk, hooked up to all your peripherals, and which grabs onto your MacBook like a facehugger grabs onto, uh, a face.

I’ve been using one for a while now, and it’s almost entirely excellent.

USB 3 Is Getting Supercharged But Thunderbolt Will Still Outclass It

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There was a time when everyone complained that Apple wasn’t putting USB 3 ports in Macs. Then Apple not only put USB 3.0 in all of their Macs, they introduced Thunderbolt — an incredible new hardware interface that can sustain lightning-fast speeds of up to 10 Gbit per second across four devices simultaneously.

Once Thunderbolt came out, a lot of us forgot about USB 3, and let the USB 3 ports we’d once clamored for get crusty. Thunderbolt was the new hotness. It looks like the group behind the USB 3.0 spec isn’t going to let that stand, though: They’re supercharging USB 3.0 by 400%.

USB 3 Ethernet Adapter

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A USB 2.0 Ethernet adapter is a pitiful thing, an ugly workaround only really useful when you find yourself in a Wi-Fi-free hotel room with only your MacBook Air for company.

A USB 3.0 Gigabit Ethernet adapter, on the other hand, is every bit as good as having a real 10/1000 network connector hole in the side of your machine.

LaCie Will Bring USB 3.0 To Your Mac Even If Apple Won’t

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Apple’s not ready to throw their hat into the USB 3.0 ring just yet. As Steve Jobs made abundantly clear in an email last week, Cupertino’s doesn’t see USB 3.0 taking off, at least until Intel starts officially supporting it… and evidence suggests that Apple might avoid USB 3.0 entirely in favor of Light Peak.

But what if you want USB 3.0 on your Mac now? Well, Apple’s not serving up official drivers yet, but LaCie’s stepping up to fill the void: they’ve just announced USB 3.0 drivers for their line of solutions.

To get USB 3.0 on your Mac, first you’ll need to buy one of LaCie’s cards: either a $49.99 USB 3.0 PCI Express Card or the $59.99 USB 3.0 ExpressCard/34, both of which will bring a couple of USB 3.0 (and backwards compatible USB 2.0) ports to your Mac Pro or MacBook. Then install the free driver and you’re ready to pick yourself up one of those blindingly flash USB 3.0 external drives that are all the rage right now.

Not a bad solution for Mac Pros, but ExpressCards can be fairly irritating to have hanging out of a MacBook, and obviously this won’t help you if you’ve got a MacBook Air, Mac mini or iMac. Still, if you’re committed to being on the cutting edge, LaCie’s happy to take your cash and make it happen.