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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  • baka_toroi - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    The fact that this exists blows my mind in terms of how retarded the industry got.
  • close - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    So it turns the new MacBook Pro into the good old MacBook Pro aesthetics-wise. I really couldn't understand the obsession about thinness on a Pro segment device when it means sacrificing all that is truly useful about that device.

    This just brings everything back to the way it was a few years ago only with updated features and performance.
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    The sad thing is that we all know that if Apple wanted to use a .95" chassis, then they could absolutely kill.

    Tons of ports, a 99WHr battery, a gaming-worthy gpu, the old perfect keyboard, a trackpads that actually clicks and maybe even some expandable stuff (storage, etc).
  • skavi - Sunday, January 15, 2017 - link

    The current trackpad is definitely better than the old mechanical version.
  • zodiacfml - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    It is because people buy the Pro for the prestige and not using it for anything professional.
  • lilmoe - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    Agreed. But I wouldn't call it "prestige" though. "Fashion statement" is more appropriate IMO.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that all Apple fans are like that, but enthusiasts and professionals buying Macs fail to realize that they're the absolute minority. Apple just isn't to cater for a minority when all the money is elsewhere. It's self evident with Apple's price increase, despite no value added for the working professional.
  • watersb - Saturday, January 14, 2017 - link

    The MacBook Pro is very popular with the scientists I work with: a Unix laptop that mostly works.
  • nerd1 - Monday, January 16, 2017 - link

    any half-assed scientist needs a powerful server anyway, which runs linux.
  • close - Monday, January 16, 2017 - link

    I don't know about half-assed scientists but full-assed ones might need a supercomputer, or a normal server, or Windows, or MacOS, or Linux. Or simply pen and paper.
    Some simply need a laptop to connect to anything in the backend and a Mac will do just fine. You can use it for scripting or the software used might be developed exclusively for MacOS.

    Any half- or full-assed commentator needs to know this so he doesn't sound like turd.
  • nerd1 - Monday, January 16, 2017 - link

    Yes, a mac will do just fine.... as a glorified thin client, but anything with a screen will do too nowadays.

    There are some portable machine with enough muscle to be used for main computing device, for example my clevo laptop with 64GB ram and beefy nvidia gpu I'm typing on right now. Oh and it is cheaper than mbp 15" BTW.

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