Illustration Credit: Timothy R. Butler

Deals This Weekend on a Thunderbolt Dock and HomePod mini

By Timothy R. Butler | Posted at 9:34 AM

This weekend is packed with several uncommon and good tech deals, particularly for Apple users. If you’re in the market for a smart speaker or Thunderbolt dock, you will want to check these out.

HomePod Mini

The HomePod Mini is on sale for $79, a price we almost never see. Apple’s diminutive smart speaker doesn’t get the attention of the similar devices from Google or Amazon, but is a privacy first entry for the smart home that stands up well to its competitors.

For being tiny, it has a surprisingly good room filling sound with plenty of bass — comparing well to the second generation Amazon Echo I’ve tested it next to.

HomePods integrate deeply with Apple’s ecosystem. Sound can be transferred from a Mac, iPhone or Apple device to the Mini with a single tap, which is convenient. Once playing audio, other Apple devices — even the Apple Watch — automatically pick up controls for it.

Like other smart speakers, it can control smart devices like Hue lightbulbs. If you have non-Matter devices that don’t support Apple’s home standard, HomeKit, you can use the open source Homebridge to make almost anything connect. If you are building out a Matter or Apple HomeKit smart home, it can be the bridge that connects those devices to your phone when you’re outside the home as well.

OWC Thunderbolt Dock

OWC has long been a contender in the Thunderbolt accessory market. We’ve tested several recent Thunderbolt docks at OFB Labs, albeit not yet OWC’s. Nonetheless, a comparable dock from a reputable brand is hard to pass up for the unusually low price of $99 I’d jump on it if I were in the market. (Update: the price appears to be gradually rising during their sale and is now $149, which is still a notable deal.)

While Thunderbolt started out using the same port as DisplayPort Mini, recent iterations adopt the reversible USB-C connector that is gradually appearing everywhere. A dock like OWC’s adds all the common ports you might need on a laptop (or small desktop) using a single cable and even can charge a laptop at the same time.

Not all Thunderbolt 3 or 4 docks can step down to slower standards, but this one can. It can use pure USB-C with tablets, phones and PCs without Thunderbolt; it can also be adapted to Thunderbolt 1 or 2 for older Mac laptops.

Timothy R. Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business. He also serves as a pastor at Little Hills Church and FaithTree Christian Fellowship.

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