Dell TB15 business-class dock will utilize Thunderbolt instead of the classic docking port
Dell presented a host of new models at CES this year, though much of them overshadowed the upcoming Thunderbolt TB15 docking station. The compact dock carries a simple cube design with rounded corners and is around 740 grams with a length and height of 145 mm and 52 mm, respectively. Unlike Dell's previous mainline business docking stations that connect from the underside of notebooks, the TB15 utilizes Thunderbolt instead.
On offer are five USB ports (3x rear, 2x front), a 3.5 mm audio jack, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, miniDP, full-size DisplayPort, and VGA. Video output supports up to three displays at up to 5120 x 2880 or 3x FHD or 2x UHD/4K at 60 Hz each. The dock itself carries its own power adapter as Dell rates a 130 W limit for the unit.
The new 2016 Latitude 5000 and 7000 models (12-, 14-, and 15-inch SKUs) unveiled at CES will still be equipped with conventional docking ports on the underside of the units to support existing docking stations. Dell, however, made it very clear at a recent Latitude event in Munich that this will likely be the last generation of Latitude notebooks with the classic feature. The next refresh coming early 2017 will rely on Thunderbolt 3 for all future docking needs, which is expected to allow for thinner and sleeker designs due to the removal of the aging docking port.
Dell is also expecting Thunderbolt-based docking stations to adapt and proliferate quickly since they follow the WiGig standard and are theoretically compatible across most devices and brands sporting a USB Type-C port. This includes tablets and smartphones, too, via Windows Continuum. Thus, the TB15 will indeed be backwards compatible with USB Type-C Gen. 1 ports albeit with functionality restrictions.
Official prices and availability for the TB15 are still under wraps. Nonetheless, Dell hinted at a February launch window and a $300 USD price range at CES.