CES 2015 – 360 degree viewing, 4K video, and new storage options drive Thunderbolt usage among consumers

Many of the emerging trends at this year’s 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) are products that are meant to capture and playback ever increasing resolutions of video and image data.  Now more than ever, technology can be put into consumers’ hands that emulates production quality environments, and with that trend comes an increasing need for better ways to handle the large amounts of data that these video and image files create.  Products with Thunderbolt 2 capability stand out – with 20Gbps bandwidth speeds and the ability to connect up to 6 other Thunderbolt devices, they represent the most effective way to solve the problem that data-intensive products create.

Intel’s Thunderbolt at CES 2015

The Thunderbolt 2 demo within the Intel Booth (Central Hall, #7252) at this year’s CES is a great example of Thunderbolt technology creating better ways to handle high-capacity consumer data.  In this CES demo, video is actually being captured via a specialized rig, the H3PRO6 from 360Heros that mounts six individual GoPro™ cameras all filming in unison.  This specialized rigging allows an individual to create a 360-degree video that can be uniquely controlled by the viewer.  The individual SD cards from the GoPro cameras are downloaded via multiple daisy-chained Thunderbolt 2-based Lexar HR2 media card reader hubs.  The images are saved on one of the latest Thunderbolt 2 drives, the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 2, with a 128GB SSD add-on option.  Once the SD cards are downloaded, specialized software is used to “stitch” the separate videos into one, cohesive 360-degree view of the video or photo image.  The software runs on an MSI WS60 notebook, that includes a Core i7™ processor, a 3K display, and a Thunderbolt 2 port, connected to other devices by the latest 60m Thunderbolt cable from Corning.  The final output is then displayed on an LG 34UC97 one of the latest Thunderbolt 2 monitors from LG, a curved 34” QHD display with 21:9 aspect ratio and dual Thunderbolt 2 ports.


This demo also shows a side-by-side comparison with similar USB3.0 devices. With Thunderbolt, multiple card reader hubs can be daisy-chained together (up to 6), and that aggregation of cards in the reader hubs translates to significant improvement in download speeds compared to USB3.0 devices, even with relatively slow SD cards. When just two Thunderbolt HR2’s are connected in the CES demo, twice the amount of content transfers simultaneously in about half the time, giving Thunderbolt a four-fold increase in performance over USB3.0.  When memory cards faster than SD cards are used, such as CFast or CompactFlash, the performance gains with Thunderbolt increase exponentially.

 “On our lightning fast delivery schedules at the SNL film unit, we embrace any technology that will help us move faster.  The introduction of Thunderbolt into our workflow has allowed us to move our data 12 times faster than before, which makes a huge difference.  Thunderbolt buys us more time in post, which allows us to accomplish MORE in the same time frame.  Lots of people say ‘every second counts,’ but in our case, it’s literally down to the last second every Saturday night at 11:30pm.” -Alex Buono, Director of Photography – SNL Film Unit

The nature of this demo, based on the use of six individual GoPro cameras, has a decided “Prosumer” bent.  But the price points of the devices used in the demo are approachable, and can easily be added to a home user’s workflow to help bring great content creation experiences to life.

Adoption of 4K Video Driving Rapid Growth of Thunderbolt 2 Docks and Displays

A major topic at CES 2015 was the explosion of 4K video, and Thunderbolt 2 products are an ideal solution to both manage and view 4K video simultaneously.  So it’s not surprising that in the last few months many new Thunderbolt 2 docks have launched, all of which support 4K video and many other I/O ports simultaneously.  Thunderbolt 2 docks that have launched or are available for pre-order include:

Belkin Thunderbolt™ 2 Express Dock HD,

Elgato Thunderbolt™ 2 Dock

CalDigit Thunderbolt™ Station 2 *

Henge Docks Horizontal MacBook Dock

HighPoint RocketStor 6351A & RocketStor 6324U

Kanex Thunderbolt™ 2 Express Dock  (Coming Soon)

OWC Thunderbolt™ 2 Dock

Sonnet Echo™ 15 Thunderbolt™ 2 Dock *

StarTech Thunderbolt™ 2 Docking Station *

* Available for pre-order

Video with a Soft Edge – The all-new 34” curved Thunderbolt display from LG

The curved 34” display (model 34UC97) from LG, profiled in the demo described above, represents another great addition to the Thunderbolt product lineup.  In fact, over the past year LG has continued to add dual Thunderbolt 2 ports on a growing number of its monitors.


“With its high performance bandwidth and daisy-chain connections, Thunderbolt 2 monitors are a popular option with content creators and video game enthusiasts alike.  We see Thunderbolt 2 as a key feature of LG monitors, and we will continue to look for opportunities to expand it across more products in the future.” Mr. Yong-Ho Cho,  General Manager – LG Monitor Product Department

LaCie Rugged RAID: Twice the Speed, Twice the Capacity, Total Confidence

Another exciting Thunderbolt product launching at this year’s CES is the LaCie Rugged RAID, a 4TB (2 x 2TB HDD’s) that offers RAID 0 & 1 flexibility within a tethered Thunderbolt port solution.  Its large capacity can store the equivalent of sixty 64GB memory cards, allowing professionals to carry fewer drives while acquiring photos, footage, and other types of content in the field.

LaCie_Rugged Raid_3-4

“LaCie Rugged RAID has been built for the most demanding content creation professionals. It leverages the strengths of the current LaCie Rugged design and adds hardware RAID to double the capacity and speed to improve workflow in the field. Thunderbolt is our technology of choice to enable us to bus-power two high performance hard drives and an embedded hardware RAID controller.” Erwin Gerard, Business Unit Manager – LaCie

Click here for a short video showing the LaCie Rugged RAID in action with world-famous surfing photographer Zak Noyle. 

G|DRIVE ev ATC – Storage with a Taste of Adventure

G-Technology also used CES to announce their latest version of their successful G-Drive series, with the G-DRIVE ev ATC with Thunderbolt.  With storage capacity up to 1TB and the ability to float in water long enough to make quick rescue attempt of your data, it offers a new level of protection, no matter your location.


Thunderbolt 2 PCs Continue to Expand

The beginning of 2015 finds almost all major PC OEMs, including HP, Dell, and Lenovo, are offering Thunderbolt 2 across their workstation lines, and ASUS, GIGABYTE, and ASRock in their high-end motherboards, either standard or via an optional Thunderbolt 2 add-in card.  The latest entry to the market is from GIGABYTE, with the GC Thunderbolt 2 dual port add-in card that works in conjunction with select X99 Thunderbolt Ready GIGABYTE motherboards.