Review: Emerson’s $200 Sensi Touch HomeKit Thermostat Offers a Large Color Display and Easy Setup

Fueled by the popularity of Nest, thermostats remain one of the more popular categories of smart home devices. I recently took at look at Honeywell's Lyric Round thermostat with HomeKit support, and today I'm following up with Emerson's latest HomeKit model, the Sensi Touch.


Announced back in May and launched in June, the Sensi Touch offers a horizontal design with a color touchscreen taking up much of the front of the device. Aside from onscreen controls, the Sensi Touch can also be managed via app or through HomeKit, offering a number of options for controls.

Installation


I've had a bit of previous experience swapping out thermostats, so I was already familiar with what needed to be done, and all told it took me less than 30 minutes to remove my old thermostat and get the Sensi Touch installed. After making sure the circuit breakers for my heating and air conditioning system were turned off, I launched the Sensi app on my iPhone and it walked me through all of the steps to get up and running.


It's a great setup process, with easy to follow instructions that integrate with the iPhone's Camera app to take a photo of your existing thermostat wiring for reference, as well as a terminal picker that lets you tell the app exactly which wires your current system uses so that it can guide you in connecting the Sensi Touch.


As with most other thermostats, the Sensi Touch comes in two pieces, a rear plate that is screwed to the wall and contains the terminals for the wiring coming out of the wall, paired with a main body that snaps onto the rear plate for a clean look.

The Sensi Touch's rear plate is well designed, using small paddles under each terminal to secure the wires in their terminals. The paddles are big enough to press with your finger, yet the terminal array remains compact on the rear plate.

The rear plate also includes a handy light that can be operated by switch to help you see what you're doing while connecting the wires. Once the thermostat is fully operational, this light can also be used as a night light to backlight the entire thermostat, but allowing it to be used during setup even without the main body of the thermostat installed is a really nice touch.


The Sensi Touch rear plate includes a pair of screw holes for mounting, one each with play in the horizontal and vertical directions to allow some flexibility. A built-in bubble level makes it easy to ensure everything is lined up properly. Unfortunately, my troublesome thermostat wiring setup with a full junction box located in the wall caused a few problems for me, albeit in a slightly different way than with the Honeywell Lyric Round.

On the positive side, the holes in the Sensi Touch rear plate line up perfectly with the junction box holes, making it simple to mount the thermostat. But its slim profile means the entire thermostat isn't much larger than the junction box itself, and so a bit of rough drywall cutout around the box as well as a screw hole from my Lyric Round installation are visible even with the Sensi Touch fully installed. The screw hole is easy enough to patch, but cleaning up the ragged drywall along the top will be a bit more work.

Setup and App Controls


After the Sensi Touch is mounted to the wall and the circuit breakers are turned back on, the Sensi app continues to walk you through the setup process, allowing you to configure Wi-Fi and connect to HomeKit.


Once it's connected, you can use either the thermostat interface itself or the Sensi app to set up schedules based on time and day of the week, automatically changing temperature set points throughout the day to account for comfortable sleeping conditions, times when you're up and about, and times when you're away.

Setting up schedules on the thermostat

Oddly, schedules can only be set directly on the Sensi Touch if you turn off Wi-Fi on the thermostat, and as I unfortunately discovered, once you turn off Wi-Fi there's apparently no way to turn it back on and reconnect to the app without completely resetting the thermostat.

Display


While the Sensi Touch includes a color display, it retains a relatively monochromatic appearance to keep the look simple, opting for white text on various shades of either blue when in cooling mode or orange when in heating mode.

Home screen in heating mode

If you choose to manage schedules through the app, the functionality available through the thermostat is rather basic, primarily consisting of adjustments to the temperature setting and changing the fan and heating/cooling modes. Manually adjusting the temperature when a schedule is in effect will temporarily hold the new temperature until the next schedule change or for at least two hours.

Night light

Other options include preferences for the home screen such as whether to show indoor humidity and the time of day, as well as whether to use Fahrenheit or Celsius units. A separate page in the settings lets you turn on the backlight for use as a night light.

Sleep display while in heating mode

When you're not interacting with the thermostat, you have the option of showing a blank screen or a dimmed screen that shows only the current inside temperature, again on a blue background for cooling or an orange background for heating. It's a very bland look considering the large, color display, and I'd definitely prefer something a bit more interesting.

Sensi App


The app is pretty straightforward, offering a main screen that lets you manage multiple thermostats and then a summary screen for each thermostat that prominently displays the current temperature and humidity, as well as the weather for your location and the set point of the thermostat. Adjusting the set point is simple, requiring just a tap on arrows along the right side of the screen to raise or lower the temperature.


At the bottom of the main display are a pair of buttons, one that lets you change the mode among heating, cooling, automatic, or off, and the other that sets the fan to automatic or always-on. I wish those buttons were a little bigger as hit targets, but you're not going to need to use them very often, so it's not a big deal.


Additional tabs for each thermostat are accessible along the bottom of the screen. One is a Settings tab that primarily displays your setup information but also lets you adjust a few options such as whether temperatures are displayed in Fahrenheit or Celsius and whether the humidity and current time are displayed. More advanced settings include the ability to delay cooling on rapid cycles to prevent system damage, lock out control for the thermostat itself, customize an offset if the thermostat reads a different temperature than you expect, and change heating and cooling cycle rates.


The final tab is for Scheduling, which allows you to create or edit schedules based on time and day of the week and adjust temperatures based on activity in the home. A couple of advanced options let you create multiple schedules in case your needs vary from week to week and turn on an "Early Start" toggle that intelligently starts your heating or cooling early so that your home reaches your desired temperature right at the scheduled time.

The Sensi Touch also includes a beta geofencing feature, which will automatically set back the thermostat by three degrees once you're more than three miles from home in order to save energy. It's not as advanced as Honeywell's geofencing which lets you define a custom radius and customize the set point for when you're away, but at least it's something.


The Sensi Touch will send alerts in a variety of situations to let you know of problems with your heating and air conditioning system, such as if inside temperature reaches 99ºF or 45ºF, humidity exceeds 78 percent, or inside temperature goes up or down by 5ºF even though the system is trying to cool or heat. It would be nice if these thresholds were customizable, but at a minimum the 5º alert should cover most circumstances where your system has failed. It would also be nice if the app could send reminders to change your air filters.

HomeKit


As a HomeKit thermostat, the Sensi Touch works with the Home app on iOS to help you see all of your HomeKit-compatible smart home devices in one app. You can easily adjust the thermostat's temperature setting via the Home app or Siri, and you can incorporate it into scenes and triggers to integrate with other HomeKit accessories. For example, you can include the thermostat in a "Good night" scene that locks your front door, turns off lights, and adjusts the thermostat when you're heading for bed.


Beyond simple temperature and mode settings and automation through HomeKit, other settings must be adjusted either on the thermostat itself or through the Sensi app.

Wrap-up


Emerson's Sensi Touch is a nice addition to the HomeKit thermostat market. Its large color display is visually engaging when you're interacting with it, although I wish it took better advantage of the display even when you're simply glancing at it. The Sensi Touch's touchscreen controls are responsive and setup is extremely easy, with a great app that walks you through everything you need to do.

On the downside, I wish the geofencing features were a little more robust, as I appreciated the customizability offered by Honeywell. The Sensi Touch also lacks many of the learning features that are the hallmark of Nest's thermostats and which contribute significantly to energy savings. Finally, the inability to easily adjust schedules directly from the thermostat can be inconvenient.

At a list price of $200, the Sensi Touch is obviously much more expensive than a traditional thermostat, even digital ones that offer scheduling features, but it's competitive with other smart thermostats, particularly if you can find it cheaper such as through Amazon where we've occasionally seen it for as low as $159 through third-party sellers, but availability varies significantly and pricing is more typically in the $180–$200 range.

Note: Emerson provided the Sensi Touch to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.


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Review: Plugable’s Flagship TBT3-UDV Thunderbolt 3 Dock Offers Lots of USB Ports at a Reasonable Price

I've covered a lot of Thunderbolt 3 docks in recent months, but there's one more upcoming model that's worth taking a look at. The TBT3-UDV is Plugable's upcoming flagship Thunderbolt 3 dock, featuring five USB 3.0 Type-A ports, Gigabit Ethernet, DisplayPort, stereo in/out, and a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports. The dock isn't available for purchase yet, as Plugable is still awaiting Thunderbolt certification, but the company tells me it's aiming for an early October launch assuming the certification comes through in a timely fashion.


In the box, you'll find the typical components including the dock itself, an external power brick, and a 0.5-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable. One nice touch I haven't seen with other docks is an included DisplayPort to HDMI 2.0 active adapter, normally sold separately for $19, which makes it easier to hook up a broader array of displays, televisions, and projectors to the dock.


Notably, the TBT3-UDV can be oriented either horizontally like most other Thunderbolt 3 docks or vertically using an included stand. It's a nice feature that the dock has in common with CalDigit's TS3, but differences in their designs mean the Plugable dock is taller and more slender in its vertical orientation compared to the TS3's block-like design.

Design


While it might have an awful name, the design of the TBT3-UDV stands out on a desk, particularly in its vertical orientation. The enclosure is constructed of a matte aluminum that's fairly close to Apple's Space Gray color and which has a few deep grooves on each side to add some style. The curved front edge of the dock is made of a glossy black plastic, as is the rear port panel.


There are somewhat prominent white Plugable logos on each side, as well as some model and regulatory information near the bottom of one of the sides. A bit cleaner look would have been nicer, especially considering the eye-catching hardware design, but it's not terrible. A pair of status lights, green for power and blue for data connection to a computer, are hidden beneath the black plastic on the front edge of the dock.

USB Ports


One of the key features of the TBT3-UDV is its five USB Type-A ports, four on the rear and one on the front. This array of USB ports is only matched by OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock, with nearly every other dock on the market offering only three ports.

SSD speeds connected to USB-A port

All five ports are 5 Gbps USB 3.0/3.1 Gen 1, so you'll get solid transfer speeds like the 325 MB/s write and 350 MB/s read I saw with a fast external SSD, typical for these types of docks. If you want even more speed, you'll have to use the available Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port on the rear for 10 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 support, which clocked in at 470 MB/s write and 495 MB/s read with the external SSD.

SSD speeds connected to Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port

Unfortunately, the four USB ports on the rear of the dock are clustered very closely together. It helps keep the overall dock footprint compact, but it means if you have oversized USB peripherals like card readers or certain flash drives plugged into the back, they will likely block access to some of the other USB ports.

Ill-fitting oversized flash drive in front USB port

I also have one fairly wide flash drive that won’t even plug into the front USB port because of the recessed design. It doesn't really even fit in the two rear USB ports closest to the edge of the dock, although I can insert it just far enough to make a connection. This might not be a deal breaker if you're mostly connecting USB cables and skinny sticks, but it's something to be aware of.

Displays


As with other Thunderbolt 3 docks, the TBT3-UDV can support up to either a single 5K display over Thunderbolt 3 or two 4K displays using a Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port and the DisplayPort port (potentially with adapters to convert to other standards). Hooking up an LG UltraFine 5K display to the downstream Thunderbolt 3 port worked fine, with the display running at 60 Hz and experiencing no lag or other hiccups.

In addition to the DisplayPort to HDMI 2.0 cable included in the box with the dock, Plugable also sent me two of the company's USB-C cables: the USB-C to DisplayPort and USB-C to HDMI 2.0 cables that have proven popular with customers on Amazon for their quality and pricing (currently $21.95 each).

Plugable's USB-C to DisplayPort (top) and USB-C to HDMI 2.0 (bottom) cables

The cables, which it's important to emphasize are sold separately and not included with the TBT3-UDV dock, expand the number of display options for use with the dock, and can also be used on a standalone basis with USB-C Macs to connect to external displays that don't directly support USB-C.

I tested hooking up to an LG 27UD88 Ultra HD display in a variety of configurations, including direct DisplayPort to DisplayPort connection from the dock, DisplayPort to HDMI via the dock using the included adapter, and USB-C to DisplayPort and HDMI from both the dock and directly from the MacBook Pro using the additional cables supplied by Plugable.

All of the connections to the DisplayPort port on the 27UD88 worked perfectly, running at 60 Hz with no issues. The HDMI connections, however, only ran at 30 Hz by default, despite the fact that everything in the chain should support HDMI 2.0 at 60 Hz.

Plugable was extremely helpful and responsive with troubleshooting, but ultimately the only way to get 60 Hz over HDMI was to force the refresh rate using SwitchResX, and even then it only worked with one of the two HDMI ports on the LG display. Testing with an Anker USB-C to HDMI adapter also required using SwitchResX to reach 60 Hz, so it seems likely my refresh rate problems are related more to the LG display than any issue with Plugable's products, and Plugable is in touch with LG in an attempt to diagnose the issue.

Charging


One important area of difference among the various Thunderbolt 3 docks is the amount of charging power they are able to output over Thunderbolt 3/USB-C to power a connected computer. Some are as low as 15 watts, which won't be nearly enough to power a MacBook Pro. Others are capable of pushing out either 60 or 85 watts, and Plugable's TBT3-UDV comes in at the lower 60-watt figure. That's enough to fully power a 13-inch MacBook Pro, but it won't be able to maximize charging of the larger 15-inch model.

If you're a 15-inch MacBook Pro owner, whether Plugable's dock will be able to provide enough power depends on your usage. In my testing, the 60-watt charging power was able to keep my MacBook Pro battery at 100 percent during an entire work day, but I wasn't doing highly demanding work like processing video.

Those users putting heavy workloads on their 15-inch MacBook Pro models will likely find the battery running down even while plugged in, albeit at a much slower rate than if you were on battery alone. If the work you do is less demanding, 60 watts might be enough to keep your battery topped off. Regardless, if your battery isn't already at full capacity, charging will be slower from the dock than from the MacBook Pro's own 87-watt adapter.

Wrap-up


As I noted up top, the TBT3-UDV isn't yet available for purchase, but Plugable says the pre-release unit I received for review should be identical to the shipping version unless any issues crop up during the final Thunderbolt certification process. Plugable is targeting early October for launch, with pricing set at $249.95 including the DisplayPort to HDMI 2.0 active adapter. It's a competitive price point for such a full-featured dock that's really only lacking the full 85-watt charging power compared to other top-tier docks, with most of those priced in the $300–$350 range.

In addition to the relatively good pricing, the five USB ports offer great flexibility for connecting multiple peripherals like iPhone or Apple Watch charging docks, card readers, external drives, and more, although a bit more spacing between the ports would have been a good idea and a built-in SD card slot like on the OWC dock would have been nice bonus.

The option for vertical or horizontal orientation of the dock is also a nice feature to fit in with a variety of desk setups, and I like the slender vertical design with the separate stand to keep it stable. As a result, the TBT3-UDV looks like it'll be a great option for those considering a Thunderbolt 3 dock, as long as the 60 watts of charging is sufficient for your needs.

Note: Plugable provided the TBT3-UDV and the USB-C cables to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.


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Review: Plugable’s Flagship TBT3-UDV Thunderbolt 3 Dock Offers Lots of USB Ports at a Reasonable Price

I've covered a lot of Thunderbolt 3 docks in recent months, but there's one more upcoming model that's worth taking a look at. The TBT3-UDV is Plugable's upcoming flagship Thunderbolt 3 dock, featuring five USB 3.0 Type-A ports, Gigabit Ethernet, DisplayPort, stereo in/out, and a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports. The dock isn't available for purchase yet, as Plugable is still awaiting Thunderbolt certification, but the company tells me it's aiming for an early October launch assuming the certification comes through in a timely fashion.


In the box, you'll find the typical components including the dock itself, an external power brick, and a 0.5-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable. One nice touch I haven't seen with other docks is an included DisplayPort to HDMI 2.0 active adapter, normally sold separately for $19, which makes it easier to hook up a broader array of displays, televisions, and projectors to the dock.


Notably, the TBT3-UDV can be oriented either horizontally like most other Thunderbolt 3 docks or vertically using an included stand. It's a nice feature that the dock has in common with CalDigit's TS3, but differences in their designs mean the Plugable dock is taller and more slender in its vertical orientation compared to the TS3's block-like design.

Design


While it might have an awful name, the design of the TBT3-UDV stands out on a desk, particularly in its vertical orientation. The enclosure is constructed of a matte aluminum that's fairly close to Apple's Space Gray color and which has a few deep grooves on each side to add some style. The curved front edge of the dock is made of a glossy black plastic, as is the rear port panel.


There are somewhat prominent white Plugable logos on each side, as well as some model and regulatory information near the bottom of one of the sides. A bit cleaner look would have been nicer, especially considering the eye-catching hardware design, but it's not terrible. A pair of status lights, green for power and blue for data connection to a computer, are hidden beneath the black plastic on the front edge of the dock.

USB Ports


One of the key features of the TBT3-UDV is its five USB Type-A ports, four on the rear and one on the front. This array of USB ports is only matched by OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock, with nearly every other dock on the market offering only three ports.

SSD speeds connected to USB-A port

All five ports are 5 Gbps USB 3.0/3.1 Gen 1, so you'll get solid transfer speeds like the 325 MB/s write and 350 MB/s read I saw with a fast external SSD, typical for these types of docks. If you want even more speed, you'll have to use the available Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port on the rear for 10 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 support, which clocked in at 470 MB/s write and 495 MB/s read with the external SSD.

SSD speeds connected to Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port

Unfortunately, the four USB ports on the rear of the dock are clustered very closely together. It helps keep the overall dock footprint compact, but it means if you have oversized USB peripherals like card readers or certain flash drives plugged into the back, they will likely block access to some of the other USB ports.

Ill-fitting oversized flash drive in front USB port

I also have one fairly wide flash drive that won’t even plug into the front USB port because of the recessed design. It doesn't really even fit in the two rear USB ports closest to the edge of the dock, although I can insert it just far enough to make a connection. This might not be a deal breaker if you're mostly connecting USB cables and skinny sticks, but it's something to be aware of.

Displays


As with other Thunderbolt 3 docks, the TBT3-UDV can support up to either a single 5K display over Thunderbolt 3 or two 4K displays using a Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port and the DisplayPort port (potentially with adapters to convert to other standards). Hooking up an LG UltraFine 5K display to the downstream Thunderbolt 3 port worked fine, with the display running at 60 Hz and experiencing no lag or other hiccups.

In addition to the DisplayPort to HDMI 2.0 cable included in the box with the dock, Plugable also sent me two of the company's USB-C cables: the USB-C to DisplayPort and USB-C to HDMI 2.0 cables that have proven popular with customers on Amazon for their quality and pricing (currently $21.95 each).

Plugable's USB-C to DisplayPort (top) and USB-C to HDMI 2.0 (bottom) cables

The cables, which it's important to emphasize are sold separately and not included with the TBT3-UDV dock, expand the number of display options for use with the dock, and can also be used on a standalone basis with USB-C Macs to connect to external displays that don't directly support USB-C.

I tested hooking up to an LG 27UD88 Ultra HD display in a variety of configurations, including direct DisplayPort to DisplayPort connection from the dock, DisplayPort to HDMI via the dock using the included adapter, and USB-C to DisplayPort and HDMI from both the dock and directly from the MacBook Pro using the additional cables supplied by Plugable.

All of the connections to the DisplayPort port on the 27UD88 worked perfectly, running at 60 Hz with no issues. The HDMI connections, however, only ran at 30 Hz by default, despite the fact that everything in the chain should support HDMI 2.0 at 60 Hz.

Plugable was extremely helpful and responsive with troubleshooting, but ultimately the only way to get 60 Hz over HDMI was to force the refresh rate using SwitchResX, and even then it only worked with one of the two HDMI ports on the LG display. Testing with an Anker USB-C to HDMI adapter also required using SwitchResX to reach 60 Hz, so it seems likely my refresh rate problems are related more to the LG display than any issue with Plugable's products, and Plugable is in touch with LG in an attempt to diagnose the issue.

Charging


One important area of difference among the various Thunderbolt 3 docks is the amount of charging power they are able to output over Thunderbolt 3/USB-C to power a connected computer. Some are as low as 15 watts, which won't be nearly enough to power a MacBook Pro. Others are capable of pushing out either 60 or 85 watts, and Plugable's TBT3-UDV comes in at the lower 60-watt figure. That's enough to fully power a 13-inch MacBook Pro, but it won't be able to maximize charging of the larger 15-inch model.

If you're a 15-inch MacBook Pro owner, whether Plugable's dock will be able to provide enough power depends on your usage. In my testing, the 60-watt charging power was able to keep my MacBook Pro battery at 100 percent during an entire work day, but I wasn't doing highly demanding work like processing video.

Those users putting heavy workloads on their 15-inch MacBook Pro models will likely find the battery running down even while plugged in, albeit at a much slower rate than if you were on battery alone. If the work you do is less demanding, 60 watts might be enough to keep your battery topped off. Regardless, if your battery isn't already at full capacity, charging will be slower from the dock than from the MacBook Pro's own 87-watt adapter.

Wrap-up


As I noted up top, the TBT3-UDV isn't yet available for purchase, but Plugable says the pre-release unit I received for review should be identical to the shipping version unless any issues crop up during the final Thunderbolt certification process. Plugable is targeting early October for launch, with pricing set at $249.95 including the DisplayPort to HDMI 2.0 active adapter. It's a competitive price point for such a full-featured dock that's really only lacking the full 85-watt charging power compared to other top-tier docks, with most of those priced in the $300–$350 range.

In addition to the relatively good pricing, the five USB ports offer great flexibility for connecting multiple peripherals like iPhone or Apple Watch charging docks, card readers, external drives, and more, although a bit more spacing between the ports would have been a good idea and a built-in SD card slot like on the OWC dock would have been nice bonus.

The option for vertical or horizontal orientation of the dock is also a nice feature to fit in with a variety of desk setups, and I like the slender vertical design with the separate stand to keep it stable. As a result, the TBT3-UDV looks like it'll be a great option for those considering a Thunderbolt 3 dock, as long as the 60 watts of charging is sufficient for your needs.

Note: Plugable provided the TBT3-UDV and the USB-C cables to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.


Discuss this article in our forums

Review: IOGEAR’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock Does the Job, but Comes Up Short on Charging Power

Thunderbolt 3 docks continue to flood the market, and today I'm taking a look at IOGEAR's Thunderbolt 3 Quantum Docking Station. IOGEAR's dock offers many of the same features typically seen on other Thunderbolt 3 docks, including multiple USB ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, headphone and microphone jacks, a DisplayPort port, and a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports to allow for daisy chaining, all in a familiar horizontal design used by many other docks.


Most notably, the IOGEAR Thunderbolt 3 Quantum Docking Station looks identical to CalDigit's TS3 Lite that I reviewed a few months ago, with the exception of color and finish. While CalDigit's dock has an enclosure of brushed aluminum and black matte plastic, IOGEAR's has more of a satin matte finish that's slightly lighter in color, paired with white matte plastic. In size, shape, and port layout, however, these two docks are identical.

Caldigit's TS3 Lite (left) vs. IOGEAR's Thunderbolt 3 Quantum Docking Station (right)

The IOGEAR dock looks decent, with its aluminum finish coming close to the silver color Apple uses on its notebooks. A fairly unobtrusive IOGEAR logo is printed on the top of the dock, and it comes with an external power brick and a 0.5-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable for connecting to a host computer at maximum speeds.

Meeting the standard for Thunderbolt 3 docks, IOGEAR's version supports up to a single 5K display over Thunderbolt 3 or dual 4K displays over a combination of Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort. I experienced no hiccups connecting an LG UltraFine 5K display at up to 60 Hz through one of the dock's Thunderbolt 3 ports.


In line with every other dock I've reviewed with the exception of OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock, IOGEAR's dock includes three USB ports, with IOGEAR opting to go with one Type-A on the rear and one each of Type-A and Type-C on the front for easy access.


All three ports run at 5 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 1 speeds, and the inclusion of a Type-C port is a nice benefit as peripherals start to move in that direction. The USB ports operate at expected speeds once overhead is accounted for, with a CalDigit Tuff SSD running at 325 MB/s write and 350 MB/s read over both Type-A and Type-C, in line with other Thunderbolt 3 docks featuring 5 Gbps USB ports.


As with the TS3 Lite, one of the main limitations with IOGEAR's dock is that it only supports up to 15 watts of charging power over Thunderbolt 3/USB-C, meaning it won't be able to power your MacBook Pro over the same cable used for data and video and you'll need to hook up your computer's power brick.

Attempting to power my 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro solely through the dock merely slowed the rate of battery life decrease, even under light usage. Depending on your setup such as willingness to use your Mac's power brick or having another monitor with higher charging power already connected, this might not be a deal breaker, but with many other Thunderbolt 3 docks offering 60 or even 85 watts of charging power it's an unfortunate limitation.

The real deal breaker, however, is price, unless you're very careful in shopping around. IOGEAR's dock carries a list price of $299.95, in the same range as docks with better features such as higher charging power, and a full $100 more than the essentially identical TS3 Lite from CalDigit. You can certainly find cheaper prices on IOGEAR's dock such as current $225 pricing at Amazon, but even that is still higher than the TS3 Lite.

Authorized reseller Provantage currently has it for $178, but with shipping starting at $27, the deal isn't quite as good as it first appears. Even with those deals, it's disappointing how much hunting you need to do to try find a good price on this dock.

As a result, it's hard to recommend the Thunderbolt 3 Quantum Docking Station unless you can find it at a really great price. The TS3 Lite is generally cheaper for identical features, while other docks like OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock with more USB ports and an SD card slot or Elgato's dock or CalDigit's TS3 with more features at the same list price offer better values.

Note: IOGEAR provided the Thunderbolt 3 Quantum Docking Station to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.


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Review: Honeywell’s $199 Lyric Round Thermostat Features a Nest-Like Design With HomeKit Support

Some of the more interesting types of smart home devices are thermostats, which can help save energy by optimizing scheduling, automatically sensing when the home is occupied or vacant, and more. One of the early entrants into the field on the HomeKit side is Honeywell, which has introduced several different smart thermostats, starting with the second-generation Lyric Round, which debuted early last year.


I've been using a Lyric Round for quite a while now, and I've come to appreciate its integration with HomeKit and its ease of use, while Honeywell has continued to improve its function and stability over time.
Continue reading Review: Honeywell’s $199 Lyric Round Thermostat Features a Nest-Like Design With HomeKit Support

Review: iDevices’ Switches and Outlets Bring HomeKit to Your Existing Lights and Home Appliances

iDevices was one of the first companies to announce plans for producing HomeKit-compatible products, focusing primarily on switches and outlets but also branching out a bit with a thermostat. Earlier this year, iDevices was acquired by major electrical equipment manufacturer Hubbell, but the iDevices brand and product lineup lives on.

I've been using a number of iDevices products, including the recently launched Wall Switch and Wall Outlet, as well as the Switch and Outdoor Switch that launched some time ago, and I've gotten a pretty good idea of how well these accessories fit into my home and integrate with other HomeKit devices through HomeKit. All of the devices are also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but for my purposes I focused on HomeKit.

Wall Switch and Wall Outlet


iDevices' Wall Switch and Wall Outlet are the latest additions to the company's HomeKit family, and they're the most complicated to install since they require in-wall installation. It's a little bit of a hassle and some users such as renters may not be able take advantage of them, but installation is a pretty straightforward project and they provide a much cleaner and more integrated look to your HomeKit system.


As with any other time you're performing electrical work, you should turn off power at the circuit breaker and make sure electricity isn't flowing to the circuits where you're working. iDevices includes step-by-step instructions to walk you through the entire installation process and also includes some helpful videos on its YouTube channel.
Continue reading Review: iDevices’ Switches and Outlets Bring HomeKit to Your Existing Lights and Home Appliances

Review: Elgato’s $300 Thunderbolt 3 Dock Offers a Solid Set of Ports in a Slim Design

Over the past few months, I've taken a look at a number of Thunderbolt 3 docks that all hit the market around the same time, including models from OWC, CalDigit, Belkin, and Kensington. There's at least one more major player in the market, so today I'm sharing my thoughts on Elgato's $300 Thunderbolt 3 Dock. Elgato's dock has a lot in common with many of its competitors, including a slim horizontal design of brushed aluminum and plastic, an array of ports for expanding the capabilities of your Thunderbolt 3-equipped Mac, and more.


The dock looks nice on a desk, with a black matte plastic front and back wrapped by a brushed aluminum enclosure that's rounded around the sides. A small Elgato wordmark is printed in the front left corner of the dock's top, but it doesn't mar the overall look of the accessory, which remains rather unobtrusive. Measuring just under 8 inches wide, Elgato's dock is slightly narrower than some of the other docks, which to my eye makes it look a bit better sitting on the foot of my LG UltraFine 5K display. Belkin's dock at a little over 8 inches also fits pretty well, but wider docks like OWC's and Kensington's overhang a bit.

Of course, everyone's desk setup is different so variations of around an inch in the width of all of these docks may not be a deal-breaker, but it's worth noting this is the narrowest of the horizontal designs I've tested. At about 3.15 inches deep and an inch high, Elgato's dock is otherwise pretty much on par with competing docks in terms of size.
Continue reading Review: Elgato’s $300 Thunderbolt 3 Dock Offers a Solid Set of Ports in a Slim Design

Review: CalDigit’s Tuff 1 TB SSD Brings Fast, Rugged, Portable Storage to the Latest Macs

CalDigit's Tuff line of rugged USB-C external drives have been a great option for those looking to take extra storage or backups on the go for a while now, but in addition to the existing 2 TB model using a 5400 rpm spinning hard drive, the company recently expanded the line to include a 1 TB solid-state drive option.


At a list price of $499, the solid-state drive version is not cheap, but if you want fast storage on the go, combining an SSD with the Tuff's 10 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 support gives some of Apple's latest Macs the ability to move data quickly. The MacBook Pro and brand-new iMac with their Thunderbolt 3 ports supporting full 10 Gbps USB are the best partners for the Tuff, and it's easy to see how useful it would be for moving data back and forth between notebook and desktop machines.
Continue reading Review: CalDigit’s Tuff 1 TB SSD Brings Fast, Rugged, Portable Storage to the Latest Macs

Review: ExoLens’ Wide-Angle Zeiss Lens is Bulky, but Takes Distortion-Free Photos

ExoLens and Zeiss have teamed up to create some high-quality lenses designed to take iPhone photography to the next level. At $200, the ExoLens PRO with Optics by Zeiss Wide-Angle Kit for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is almost the price you'd pay for a standalone camera, but the lens is distortion free, compact, and enhances the range of images you can capture with your iPhone.


There are dozens of inexpensive lenses on the market, but most of the cheaper options are unable to measure up to the quality you get with the $199 Zeiss/ExoLens combo.

Design


The ExoLens PRO comes in a padded box and ships alongside several mounts to fit different sized iPhones, including the iPhone 7, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus.

Right out of the package, the ExoLens PRO stands apart from other lens options. It's over an inch tall and similar in circumference to a standard pill bottle, with a solid weight to it. The outside of the lens is made from aluminum, and the glass of the lens itself is protected with caps on each side when not in use. Zeiss branding is on the side of the lens, which looks more like a small DSLR lens than a standard iPhone lens.


Inside the box, there are two carrying bags for the lens and any accessories, along with an aluminum lens hood and an installation guide.
Continue reading Review: ExoLens’ Wide-Angle Zeiss Lens is Bulky, but Takes Distortion-Free Photos

Review: BenQ’s PD2710QC is the First Display With a Built-In USB-C Dock

Introduced in January, the PD2710QC from BenQ is the first USB-C display that comes equipped with an integrated USB Type-C dock, which offers an array of ports for MacBook and MacBook Pro owners.

The 27-inch display is aimed at designers and engineers, offering a 2560 x 1440 resolution with support for 100 percent sRGB color accuracy and specific modes for use with CAD and animation software.


Design


The display itself, a 27-inch IPS panel mounted on a plastic base, is attractive with a thin black bezel that doesn't distract from the screen. The tapered back of the display is a neutral, unassuming shade of gray that can match any decor, and while it's thin at the sides, it tapers into a thicker back.

An arm attaches the display to the USB-C dock, which is made from the same gray plastic. All of the parts are plastic so it doesn't necessarily feel high-quality, but the display is lightweight and it also doesn't come off as cheap.


The USB-C dock, as far as bases go, is going to take up a lot of desk space. It's a good inch and a half bigger than my 12-inch MacBook, and probably similar in size to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, but far thicker. It tapers from about a half an inch in the front to an inch and a half in the back.

The dock can be used as a place to put a MacBook while it's in clamshell mode or in use, but it is one of the largest display bases that I've seen. If you have a small desk, be aware of how much space this dock/base is going to take up. Personally, I think the large base is unattractive and clunky, detracting from the sleeker design of the display itself.
Continue reading Review: BenQ’s PD2710QC is the First Display With a Built-In USB-C Dock