Miscellaneous Ramblings

Miscellaneous Ramblings Review

Targus USB 2.0 High-Speed File Transfer Cable Helps Offset Loss of FireWire

Charles Moore - 2008.11.10 - Tip Jar

Rating: 3 and a half out of 4

Targus is best known as a purveyor of laptop cases, of which it offers a remarkably diverse and attractive lineup, but the company also markets a variety of computer accessories, one of its newer introductions being the Targus High-Speed File Transfer Cable, which is designed to facilitate transferring large amounts of data from computer to computer via USB, serving essentially has a USB substitute for Apple's built-in FireWire Target Disk Mode - a facility that should make it especially popular with buyers of the new, FireWire-bereft, Unibody MacBooks.

The High-Speed File Share Cable will work with either USB 2.0 or 1.1 ports, but the latter will be unacceptably slow for moving large files, although I found it worked just fine for moving a document or two from one computer to another on my old Pismo PowerBooks, which support only USB 1.1. It can thus replace other forms of media, such as CDs or DVDs, for data transfer. A maximum nominal transfer rate of 480 Mbps is claimed, although that speed will never be attained in real world applications, with something like 260 Mbps being more likely on most machines. However, some testers have reported that USB throughput on the Unibody MacBooks seems to be significantly faster than we've been accustomed to with older Macs.

EasySuite iconThe genius of the Targus High-Speed Data Transfer Cable is that it includes built-in file transfer software called EasySuite that works with both Mac OS X and Windows OS - it can be used to transfer files cross-platform as well as from Mac-to-Mac or Windows-to-Windows. And unlike FireWire Target Disk mode, one of the computers does not have to be shut down and restarted in order to set up file transfers. The EasySuite software requires no installation as it is stored on 2 MB of flash memory inside the larger of the cable's USB connector plugs - very slick and convenient!

EasySuit software

When you insert the cable, the EasySuite "CD-ROM drive" icon will appear on your desktop. Open the drive window and double-click the EasyMacCopy icon to start the file transfer application.

You will need to do the same on the remote computer.

Once the software is running on both machines, the application window will display file directories for both, one above the other.

EasyMacCopy in use

According to the somewhat sketchy mini-manual that comes with the product, which is unfortunately somewhat Windows-centric, in order to copy a file from the host computer to the remote computer you first need to click "system - setup" in the remote computer, but I found all I had to do was open the EasyMacCopy application on the remote Mac, and I was good to go. Your mileage may vary, or perhaps the "system-setup" is just a Windows thing.

The software also nominally supports email synchronization between computers. To configure that feature, you are instructed click "synchronize > mail > setup" in the remote computer to sync the mail from the remote computer into the host computer. With the setup configured, click "synchronize > mail > start" to initiate your mail synchronization. I did not test this feature, partly because I couldn't find it, so I can't say for sure whether it is Windows-only (the manual is vague on that point), but I didn't figure it would work with my Eudora mailboxes anyway and was disinclined to risk any data experimenting. My guess is that if it does work with the Mac in a way that I didn't discover, it would probably work only with Microsoft email software, or at most might support OS X's Mail app as well, but I don't use either.

Targus File Transfer Cable with CaseAnother feature described in the manual that I did not test is EasyMover, which, according to the documentation, can be used to migrate settings and data from the remote computer to host computer, for example moving your files and settings to configure a new machine when you purchase it. The instructions say to click "synchronize > EasyMover > setup" in the remote computer and then "synchronize > EasyMover > start" to begin the process. I'm also uncertain whether EasyMover supports the Mac or not, but the only function I could find in the window that appeared when I clicked the Setup command in the application menu seemed to pertain only to file transfer configuration, so that may be the extent of it for Macs. Again the lack of much documentation and sparse sketchiness of what's there is frustrating.

However, the file transfer functions, which are my main interest with this product, work just fine. As with any USB device, you need to quit any open applications (in this case the EasyMacCopy software on both computers) and drag the volume icon to the Eject icon in the Dock or use the Eject command before disconnecting the cable.

Even without support (presumably: I invite correction if I am mistaken about this) for the mail synchronization and settings transfer functions on the Mac, this Targus High-Speed File Transfer Cable for PC/Macs could be very useful at performing its main function of data transfer as an alternative to file sharing over ethernet or WiFi - or FireWire Target Disk Mode, with gradual abandonment of FireWire evidently now being Apple's game plan.

The Targus File Transfer Cable is 4.92' in length, weighs 1.76 oz, comes with a handy travel pouch, and has an estimated street price of $39.99.

Features

Quickly transfers data from PC to PC, Mac to Mac, Mac to PC, or PC to Mac at a high transfer rate; can replace other forms of media such as CDs or DVDs for data transfer

Plug and Play - No Software to install; Easy Suite software stored on 2 MB flash memory

System Requirements:

  • Macintosh OS X or later
  • Windows XP, Vista
  • USB 1.1 or 2.0 port

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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