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Summary:

Apple’s decision to not equip the new unibody MacBook with a FireWire port has been as popular as the proverbial skunk at a garden party, at least with seasoned Mac users. Aside from the MacBook Air, which suffers from manifold deficiencies in the I/O department, the […]

Apple’s decision to not equip the new unibody MacBook with a FireWire port has been as popular as the proverbial skunk at a garden party, at least with seasoned Mac users. Aside from the MacBook Air, which suffers from manifold deficiencies in the I/O department, the last Apple portable that shipped without FireWire was the Revision B clamshell iBook in 2000. We’ve kinda gotten used to having it.

So, are you, like many, taken with the new MacBook (and there are plenty of reasons to be), but wondering how you could get along without FireWire? A new product from Targus could be your solution.

That is if your main concern about going FireWire-less is how to handle fast, computer-to-computer file transfers. The Targus USB 2.0 High-Speed File Transfer Cable for Mac can’t help you with connecting to your FireWire video camera or scanner, but it’s a surprisingly slick and satisfactory substitute for the file transfer aspect of FireWire Target Disk Mode, in some respects even more convenient.

Supports Both USB 2 and USB 1.1

The High-Speed File Transfer Cable is designed to facilitate transferring large (or small) amounts of data from computer to computer via their USB ports, and its arrival on the scene is timely for those with FireWire-bereft MacBooks and MacBook Airs. It works with either USB 2.0 or USB 1.1 ports alike. USB 1.1 is pretty slow for moving large files, although I found it works just fine for moving a document or two from one computer to another on my old Pismo PowerBooks which support only USB 1.1, either connected to each other or to my USB 2-equipped PowerBook G4.

This cable can also substitute for other forms of media like CD’s or DVD’s for data transfers and it’s a lot faster and more convenient that burning to disks. A maximum nominal transfer rate of 480 Mbps is claimed but unlikely to ever be attained in real world use, with something like 260 Mbps more likely on most machines. However some testers have reported that USB throughput on the unibody MacBooks seems to be faster than we’re accustomed to.

The genius of the Targus High-Speed Data Transfer Cable is that it includes built-in file transfer software called EasySuite in versions that work with both Mac OS X and Windows OS, and can be used to transfer files cross-platform as well as from Mac-to-Mac or Windows-to-Windows, the latter which is of course not supported by FireWire Target Disk Mode, and one of the computers doesn’t have to be shut down and restarted in order to set up file transfers, so connect/disconnect is quick and convenient. The EasySuite software requires no installation, as it lives stored on 2MB of flash memory inside the larger of the cable’s two USB connector plugs.

Easy File Transfers

When you connect the cable, the EasySuite “CD-ROM drive” icon appears on the computers’ respective Desktops. Open the drive window and double-click the EasyMacCopy icon to start the file transfer application. Once EasyMacCopy has started up on both computers (takes but a few seconds), file transfer windows open showing the remote computer in the top panel and the local computer in the bottom panel.

Now you can select the file(s) or folder(s) you want to transfer using standard OS X Finder navigation, and drag & drop it to the destination drive window. When all transfers are complete, quit the EasyMacCopy applications and eject the virtual “drives.”

All versions of Mac OS X are supported, as well as Windows XP and Vista. The Targus File Transfer Cable has a MSRP of $49.99.

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  1. For the same or less money, get an ExpressCard/34 2-Port FireWire 400 adapter from some place like OWC. Yes, it’s ugly and yes, it sticks out but so does that Targus thingie. And it solves the problem of how to connect a digital video camera with only a FW400 port.

  2. Charles W. Moore Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Hi jmizener;

    That’s a good solution if you have a MacBook Pro, but I was principally referencing the unibody MacBook which has no ExpressCard slot.

    Charles

  3. jmizener… how does an ExpressCard/34 help on a MacBook or MacBook Air?

    Still… this article doesn’t offer anything else. A USB device is not going to help anyone with hardware that only has Firewire connections. What was the point in this article again? To me, it’s just reinforced the fact that I have to say goodbye to my Firewire stuff if I want a MacBook over a MacBook Pro. Whether this targus thing is a good idea is irrelevant to the problem at hand for people thinking to upgrade to a new MacBook, and is pretty irrelevant for anyone with a MacBook Pro.

    Is it me, or has this blog become ever more pointless since it’s been taken over and had too many useless contributors added to the staff? It just seems that the only contributions are from clueless mac-heads with little useful or objective content these days. Such a shame!

  4. Charles W. Moore Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Hi Mitch;

    The point of the article to inform about a solution for (reasonably) fast transfers of data between computers of which one has no FireWire support, such as the new aluminum MacBooks and many PC machines, and it might even be useful for unibody MacBook Pro users if no FW 800/400 adapter dongle is handy.

    As I emphasized in the article, it can’t help you with connecting to your FireWire video camera or scanner, or let you boot via FireWire Target Disk mode, but even though all of my current Macs have FireWire ports, I still find this Targus cable more convenient most of the time for quick and easy file transfers than various other means.

    Charles

  5. Sorry everyone, I missed that this was directed specifically at the unibody MacBook-non-Pro. If I was going to get a new Mac-laptop, it would need to be a Pro. Without a FW port, I can’t do what I need to do, so please forgive my failure to read carefully. I have done a brief search for USB-to-FW adapters and have found only one, designed specifically for DV use and pointedly without OS/X support. So is this Apple’s way of driving the DV/film people up to MBP?

  6. more convenient that burning to disks >>
    more convenient than burning to disks

  7. It just boggles my mind as to what Apple was thinking. There are probably millions of people out there who will miss the target mode, but more importantly, like me, have backed up or archived terabites of either personal or professional files on external firewire hard drives. How much longer will the MacBook Pro still keep the firewire port? If they got rid of it on the macbook, there is no guarantee it won’t disappear from the pro. My only option, as i can see, is to spend hundreds of dollars on new usb external hard drives and copy the old firewire externals to the new usb externals via an old mac. And then join the old firewire externals to the drawer where those old zip and floppy drives are having a sad ol’ obsolete party. Think of all the data that is stored across the globe on external firewire drives. Thanks a bloody *@$*!!%@* lot Apple!

  8. I was advised by an apple techie to use a usb to firewire hub to transfer my video via firewire to my firewire-less macbook via usb. Is this possible?

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