OWC DEC expansion slice for 2016 MacBook Pro update

Thursday, 02 February 2017

At the beginning of January OWC previewed their DEC expansion system for the 15" 2016 MacBook Pro. They supplied images of a device that attaches to the base of the machine.

2016 MacBook Pro from left and right showing ports on prototype OWC DEC - version 1

The image they first used didn't show how the device is designed to connect to the Mac. You may have missed an update from the Mac Performance Guide in which they had a look at a DEC prototype.

I’ve seen the prototype of the OWC DEC first hand. The DEC bolts onto the bottom of the MacBook Pro after removing the bottom shell of the case. The result is a seamless integration with all the key ports I need (gigabit ethernet, USB-A 3.1, SD card slot), delivering what feels in the hand very much like the 13" 2012 MacBook Pro in thickness (but in 15" size).

Read more at Mac Performance Guide.

A few days after this report, OWC updated their visualisation:

 

Modular Expansion?

OWC says the DEC will make the MacBook ‘Pro’ again:

This solution seamlessly integrates with your MacBook Pro for increased capacity and expanded connectivity far beyond factory capabilities.

A vague statement. Maybe OWC could do with some feedback on what would be useful. 

Video editors and VFX artists hoping to use their new MacBook in workgroups with servers like Lumaforge’s Jellyfish would appreciate a DEC with 10Gb Ethernet. Others would want a DEC filled with extra battery only, useful for 24 hour journeys across the planet.

As there will be many different requirements by different professional users, I hope OWC offer a modular system.

This would similar to the way PowerBooks used to work in the 1990s: you could choose a CD drive or floppy disc or a battery in one of two slots. In 1999 Low End Mac stated that you could get 16 hours of power from using two batteries in a 'Lombard' Powerbook.

The OWC as shown could have two slots 150mm wide by 160mm deep - one on each side. Here are some ideas for modules to go in the slots:

  • Older MacBook ports: Ethernet, SD Card, USB 3 ports, Audio In, MagSafe, Thunderbolt/MiniDisplayPort, HDMI
  • SSD
  • Battery
  • GPU with external connector
  • High-end ports: 10Gb Ethernet, etc.
  • Optical drive
  • Retro: 3" Floppy drive
  • Retro: Firewire, ADB, SCSI ports

In some cases you would only need one of a module, in others two would be handy. What else would be useful for you?

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