Contributing writer: Dan Tennant
Apple lost a few fans when it unveiled its latest laptop computer, the Touch Bar MacBook Pro – having dropped most of the common ports from the device, it left just two USB Type-C ports on the chassis. If you still have devices with classic USB Type-A connectors, your computing life has probably become one of laborious adapters and dongles. That’s where long-time Mac upgrade firm OWC has stepped in. Its new DEC attachment connects to your MacBook’s underside and adds a bevy of all-too-necessary ports, while expanding your storage to boot.
With this add-on, you get multiple USB Type-A ports (two in the entry-level model, three in an upgraded version) and an SD memory card reader, with the option for an Ethernet port. The DEC may also get a miniDisplay port and bays for removable batteries, though OWC wouldn’t commit to that just yet. It will be available for both the 13-inch and 15-inch Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pros, and the company is considering supporting the 13-inch, non-Touch Bar 2016 MacBook Pro, too.
While it may look like the DEC adds a ton of bulk, it's still about as thin as the 2012 optical drive MacBook Pro, which measured 0.95 inches from top to bottom. Lifting and holding a DEC-equipped MacBook at CES 2017, I didn't think the thicker body was a problem, considering how much you get in return. OWC says the shipping DEC should be 3 to 4 ounces lighter than that 2012 MacBook Pro, which would make it around 4.3 pounds.
Availability & Starting Pricing
The DEC should be available this spring, and the 4TB model will carry a starting price no higher than $1,400. While an exact price isn't available yet – and we certainly hope that OWC doesn’t come close to that particular pricing tier – the company told us that the entry-level DEC should cost less than the price Apple charges to upgrade a Touch Bar MacBook Pro from 256GB to 2TB, which is $1,400.
Two to three USB Type-A Ports; SD memory card reader; optional Ethernet Port; 2GBps throughput; disk storage expansion
The DEC isn't about what's new; it's about recognizing that some folks need more storage and that not everyone is ready for Type-C cables or wants to carry around fistfuls of dongles in their bags.
Why You Should Care
If you were holding off on upgrading to a MacBook Pro because of its lack of legacy ports, you've got one less reason – assuming the price doesn’t end up being prohibitive. You won’t need to worry about angering Apple either, as OWC says users will be able to attach the DEC without voiding their warranty.
Optimistic: We're ready for a modern MacBook Pro with all the ports and storage we need.