I’ll admit, when I first looked at the SanDisk Pro-Dock 4, I didn’t get it. On the surface, it looks just like a card reader, cumbersome at that, which gives you the option to get different kinds of readers and swap them in and out. Whilst that is the headline feature of the Pro-Dock 4, it does a fair bit more. And those extra features does add more value.
But lets start with the headline feature. The Pro-Dock 4 has four slots that allow you to insert/install different types of media readers, known as Pro-Readers.
I didn’t realise it at first, but with those four slots, you have quite a few options. The main media reader that most people are going to get is the multi-card media reader with SD, micro SD and Compact Flash slots. This is an almost essential and perfect all-rounder that anyone who is in media production would use regularly.
One discovery that I really apprecaited is the nice feature that each reader can work on their own without the Pro-Dock. Each reader (for example, the multi-card media reader with SD, micro SD and Compact Flash slots) have a 10GB USB 3.2 Type C interface on the back and come with a cable. So you could be using it in your Pro-Dock, but you may need to take it with you on a shoot. No problem. Simply pop it out of the Dock, grab your cable and away you go. This added flexibility is great.
In addition to the Multi-Card reader, you can also get Pro-Readers for CFast, CF Express Type B, and RED MINI-MAG reader. I think here SanDisk has missed a trick. I shoot with various cameras, but always try to use an Atomos recorder in order to capture ProRes files. It would have been great to have a reader which offers the SATA connection that they use. I appreciate that the Pro-readers would then need to be a bit bigger to accommodate them, but still would have been really handy. Also Sandisk has these in their bigger G-Tech Raid arrays. So, it’s not like they aren’t familiar with the products.
There is also a reader for SD and MicroSD only, but it begs the question why you would not just get the Multi-Card reader, which features both those and a Compact Flash slot.
Other than the Pro-Reader function the Pro-Dock is actually a decent dock as well. On the back it has two Thunderbolt ports so you can you the device for passthrough. One of these ports labelled and is specifically for powering your laptop as well as for data.
There is also a Gigabit Ethernet port for networking and a 1.4 DisplayPort to add another monitor to your setup. I would have really liked Sandisk to give us a 10 Gigabit Ethernet port instead. This would have been really helpful for those of us who would want to edit 4K video over Ethernet from a NAS.
On the front you have 2 X USB-C gen 2 ports and 2 X USB-A USB 3.0 ports. These are super helpful. I don’t understand why more dock makers don’t put more ports on the front and not make us scrounge round the back to plug things in.
I’ve been using the dock for about 6 weeks and it’s been flawless for me. Never plugged something in and not had it work. Transferring files is really fast.
The biggest challenge with the Pro-Dock I think may be the price. In Australia the dock will often set you back around $1154. And that’s just for the dock, you don’t get any readers with that. The readers then start at $189 each. With that said, have a look at Amazon where you may find some more reasonable prices for the Sandisk Pro-Dock 4 and the associated Pro-Readers.
So, who in heaven’s name would buy something like? I hear you ask.
Well, I have a few jobs each year that involve shooting events with multiple cameras that needs to have the edits delivered very quickly. On those jobs, I am able to have multiple readers setup in the Pro-Dock and be ingesting 4 cards at the same time. This may sound a bit silly, but being able to work 4 times as fast can really make a huge difference when it’s 8pm, you need to import 2TB of footage off cards and the sooner you start editing, the sooner you can go home.
In summation, I think the price of the Sandisk Pro-Dock 4 could be a bit prohibitive for some. But if you have the need and or the money, it will be a trusty work horse.
Interface: (2) Thunderbolt 3 Ports, (2) USB-C™ (USB 3.2 gen 2); (2) USB-A (USB 3.0), 3.5mm audio/mic, DisplayPort 1.4, 1Gbps Ethernet
Operating Temperature: 0 – 35C | 32 – 95F
Size (LxWxH): 183 x 115 x 156 mm | 7.21 x 4.53 x 6.14 in
Weight: 2.3 kg | 5.1 lbs
System requirement: macOS 10.9+, Windows® 10+
Box Contents: PRO-DOCK 4, Power cable(s) – some regional SKU may ship with additional power cables, (1) 0.8m Thunderbolt 3 Cable (40Gbps), Quick Start Guide