We received some exciting news from Sonnet this week. They will be releasing the ECHO-E34, an ExpressCard34 to Thunderbolt adapter. If you are not familiar with the term, ExpressCard34 is an interface used to connect peripheral devices to computers. If you have seen an AJA Io Express, Matrox MXO 2, or even a Sony SxS card, then you have seen an ExpressCard34 connecting device. Typically only seen on laptops, ExpressCard34 is a faster connection alternative compared to USB 2.0 or FireWire 800. Apple has removed the ExpressCard slot from the 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros, but have added Thunderbolt to most of their new computers, so you will now be able to connect directly with these devices.
This is huge news for many reasons. Thunderbolt offers transfer speeds up to 10Gb/s, so this device will work as a fast way to download SxS cards. Anyone using a Sony XDCAM EX camera or ARRI ALEXA will love this new option, especially since most SxS card readers are USB 2.0 based. Additionally, Sonnet makes many adapters that will work with the device including a CF Card reader, SDHC card reader, SATA adaptor, USB 3.0 adapter, and a Gigabyte Ethernet adapter, allowing it to fit into a wide variety of workflows. USB 3.0 is going to start showing up on many card readers and other devices found in our business, such as the new Panasonic AJ-PCD30 P2 card reader. With the io Express or MXO2, the adapter will enable full HD input and output. So I can see many applications for the ECHO-E34 which will be available in October for $150 (you will also need to purchase a Thunderbolt cable from Apple). See a full list of Sonnet adapters and some of the other devices that it will work with here.