We distinctly remember the promises, that in the future, we would all have wrist communicators, speedy computers, even voice activated devices. All of which came true! But... there was never a cable in sight. Somehow, all that equipment seemed to work magically without any cables, the sexy part was wireless. And today, our devices are magically communicating, charging, printing, and so much more. And cables, well, aren't that sexy.
Unfortuntely, our everyday reality has been anything but life without cables. While our phones can do amazing things, at some point we need to charge them, transfer data, and attach peripherals. Cables to the rescue! Two of our favorite manufacturers are Accell, and Kanex. During a time where most of us have boxes, drawers, and shelves full of cables, most slowly receding into the past as standards change. Mini-USB, Micro-USB, USB Type-C, USB 3.1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3, Optical, USB 2, Firewire, ATA, SATA, e-SATA, Firewire 400 & 800, and all proof that cables are still with us. If your phone dies, there's almost never the right cable within reach.
Now, with the newly approved USB 4 Type-C making waves, you might be wondering what cables you need. You might not have heard of Accell but you should. They make a complete set of cables and power accessories, including the newly released Accell Power Cutie – a fun compact surge protector with 3 surge-protected outlets and 4 USB charging ports. We are always on the lookout for unique power strips, especially when they are almost round and fun. It's a solid design, with ac outlets on the sides and USB ports on the top. We found it very useful, and recommend it for folks seeking some more power in their office. Available in different colors, we preferred the baseball design.
For more information on the Accell Power Cutie visit: https://www.accellww.com/collections/frontpage/products/accell-power-cutie
The first USB 4 Type-C cable that we've received was the Accell USB4 40Gbps Cable. According to Accell, the cable is consistently capable of delivering 40Gbps speeds of data, video, and power over a single USB Type-C connection. The Accell USB4 cable is the latest USB-IF certified 40Gbps cable that delivers a consistent ultra-fast set of specification for connecting your daily devices including computers, displays, and mobile devices. It is also fully backward compatible with USB 3.2, USB 2.0, and Thunderbolt 3.
We have to take Accell's word for this, since we don't yet have any USB 4 devices, but it's nice to be forward thinking. It's 2.6 feet long, and we look forward to longer versions. When we have used it with our USB 3 Type-C devices, it's as any good cable should be, invisible. We had no dropped connections, or any problems. Physically, it's a nice tough cable. It's clearly the path forward. If you are wondering what USB 4 offers over its predecessor, the new spec, and thus the new cable xupports up to single 8K resolution or dual 4K displays at 60Hz. Two-lane operation using existing USB Type-C® cables, and with double the bandwidth to extend USB Type-C® performance, USB 4 hosts can optimally scale allocations for display data flow.
For more information on the Accell USB4 40Gbps Cable visit: https://www.accellww.com/products/usb4-40gbp-cable
Also of note is the Accell Air™ USB-C 4K Driver-Less Dock, which designed to reduce cable clutter, especially when running dual 4K displays. We haven't seen this yet, as it was backordered. But will update this review when we receive it. Accell makes a large range of cables and adapters, all at an attractive price point, so we recommend you visit their site to see their offerings. Should you buy USB 4 cables? We think so, since most new gear will start sporting the new design. So, why not start your collecton of USB 4 cables and peripherels? Yes, you will need them. We recommend the Accell line of USB Type-C, and Thunderbolt 2 & 3 devices and adapters.
For more information on Accell products visit: https://www.accellww.com
Kanex is a company whose products are represented by clean industrial design, solid performance, and adherence to specifications. We have tested a wide-range of products from them, and as Type-C USB slowly become the new normal, Kanex was of course ready to go with an extensive product line.
We first reported on Kanex several years back as the then small company introduced some spot on Mac accessories. Since then, the brand has grown, along with their offerings, with a similar theme, namely first-rate design and execution, in stylish packages at competitive prices. We love their line of Thunderbolt 2 to eSATA adapters, and Thunderbolt 3 to eSATA adapters, both of which allow old and new Thunderbolt devices to work at peak efficiencies. They have adapters for just about any use, and for a solid power supply, consider the GoPower 50W USB-C Wall Charger with Power Delivery. It's solid product that can provide all the power you might need.
We looked at their Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet + USB 3.0 Adapter, USB-C™ to USB 3.0 Premium Mini Adapter, USB-C™ to USB 3.0 Mini Adapter, USB-C™ to USB Adapter, the Premium USB-C™ to USB-A Female Adapter, and the Thunderbolt 3.0 to eSATA Adapter. All worked splendidly, and while we initially hoped we wouldn't need such an array of adapters, until every device we own, has a full complement of Type-C USB/ Thunderbolt 3 ports, bring on the adapters.
As we went to press, Kanex introduced new keyboards, USB Type-C docks, and chargers. We'll update the article as the products arrive for review. If you have legacy gear, such as Thunderbolt 2 or eSATA gear, you have some very workable and fast options. We have an old Firmtek SeriTek/5PM drive box, that holds 5 drives. It has a single port-multiplier, so all you need is one eSATA cable to talk to all the drives. We have had lots of problems with eSATA cards in our MacPro's, and vintage laptops with an ExpressCard slots.
The problem originated because to use eSATA with a Mac, you needed to use PCI cards. And we found that they were always a gamble. The systems crashed more then a Nascar race, the result of using unreliable and glitchy cards and drivers that often froze and then took down the system. Seeking a way out of this Kafkaesque nightmare, we wondered, maybe we could use the eSATA to Thunderbolt adapter? Voila, happy to report that yes, it works perfectly, and is faster in most operations then relying on the PCI card solutions. So, who says a piece of legacy gear isn't a good fit for a brand new computer? Not Kanex! We then tried daisy chaining the eSATA to Thunderbolt 2 adapter to the “Apple Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter” and discovered that it worked fine as well.
Finally, we attached some USB 3 drives to the same adapters, and amazingly, all the drives mounted on the Mac without a hitch, which we found pretty impressive. We had 5 eSATA drives, 2 USB drives, and all mounted at the time using the Thunderbolt port. Silly, but it worked just fine.
The Thunderbolt to eSATA adapters are not inexpensive, at roughly $100 dollars each, but if it means accessing legacy drives and data, easily, without a hitch, the price of admission might not be that important. We recommend the Kanex line of USB Type-C, and Thunderbolt 2 & 3 devices and adapters without reservation.
For more information on Kanex Cables and Adapters visit: https://www.kanex.com
Harris Fogel and Nancy Burlan, Posted 2/21/2021