Thunderbolt cables aren't like the low-cost commodity USB and FireWire cables that come free with external hard drives or cameras or printers or whatever peripheral you might name. A few weeks ago, I noted that it was hard to find Thunderbolt cables on the shelves of some stores and certainly, none shipped a cable free with a storage device. Now, for the first time, one vendor is offering a cable free with select, higher-priced storage systems.
I noticed on the B & H site that LaCie was promoting its 2big Thunderbolt Series Hard Drive by offering an Apple Thunderbolt Cable for free. The 2big models included in the promotion are the 4TB system ($569) and the 6TB system ($714). The site sells the cable for $47.25, which is a couple of dollars off of the $49.99 you would pay at the Apple Store or most other retailers. These are both 2bay units.
This is enough of a savings that might tip a buyer towards the LaCie products, now that additional vendors are entering the market with Thunderbolt drives. This is especially true for the 4TB model. A savvy move.
For my own systems, I'm running a 4TB RAID Level 5 array, which offers 3TB of capacity. It's a little cramped — a statement that I am sure brings an unbelieving smile to the face of many readers. Still, my primary machine has about a terabyte of storage. If I want to run a large Time Machine backup as well as make a bootable clone of the primary volume with my apps and primary files, then I need plenty of capacity. In addition, I often work with digital audio and video files, which really can eat up capacity.
Meanwhile, there's still some confusion with buyers on Thunderbolt and what cable does what and other technical issues. I discussed this in a recent post.
The Thunderbolt PHY is the same as a mini DisplayPort PHY. But the cables aren’t the same. My MacBook Pro uses the Thunderbolt port as a mini DisplayPort for video out, you can plug in a mini DisplayPort adapter that translates to other video standards such as DVI, HDMI or VGA.
However, this isn’t necessarily making the after-market situation around cables any clearer. The video engineer believes that there is still a lot of confusion about Thunderbolt cables.
A Thunderbolt cable cannot act as an mDP cable. An mDP cable cannot act as a Thunderbolt cable. Many no-name dongle suppliers say their HDMI or DVI or VGA adaptors are Thunderbolt compatible. They are merely mDP compatible.
Dong Ngo at CNET.com recently posted a nice roundup of his recent reviews of Thunderbolt storage systems. Interesting reading.