Review: Corning’s 33-foot Optical Thunderbolt cable lets you put Thunderbolt devices (or Mac) far away from your desk

“The promise of the Thunderbolt standard is that it can deliver a lot of data over long distances very quickly for many types of devices,” Seth Weintraub writes for 9to5Mac. “Unfortunately, that promise has been pretty slow to materialize, and the long distance piece of the equation has been particularly painful.”

“Corning is hoping to turn that around this year with the consumer launch of its Thunderbolt Optical Cables in 10 meter (33 foot), 30 meter (99 foot), and 60 meter (198 foot) sizes,” Weintraub writes. “With these lengths, you can put your Thunderbolt hard disk and arrays far away from your desk. If you have a Thunderbolt Display or a Thunderbolt dock, you can even move your Mac to the utility closet or basement and really clean up your desk space.”

Weintraub writes, “I’ve been using the 33-foot version for a few weeks and here’s my take…”

Read more in the full review here.

16 Comments

  1. Not sure if its Intel screwing manufacturers around or not but useful thunderbolt devices are few and far between. The devices that are available are overpriced and under featured.

  2. From the article:
    One downside however: Optical can’t carry power so it won’t work on portable Thunderbolt hard drives or SSDs that require a bus current.

    I’m not sure why this has not been solved yet. Obviously, the optical cable would have to add two copper wires for current. The copper is going to pick up EM noise, but who cares? I can’t imagine 33 feet of copper is going to diminish 5 volts of electricity enough to be a problem. I also can’t think of a way the current Thunderbolt connector interface would have to change.

    Does anyone know more about this situation?

    1. I don’t but I can give some insight WRT phantom power (from my film production experience). XLR (balanced audio) cables can also carry phantom power (48v) for condenser microphones (and sometimes “inline” electronics)
      It all comes down to current. you can have a phantom powered mic on 1000′ (or even 2000′) run of XLR, because they (the mics) pull almost no current (normally a few mA) With no (almost no) current you get almost no voltage drop (Voltage(drop)=Current/Resistance) even if you have significant resistance (in the cable) you won’t get much drop if there isn’t much current.
      Unfortunately… hard drives require hundreds of times that current, so the voltage drop could be significant.

      Perhaps someone will come up with an accessory that exists for XLR a phantom power “injector” A divide that plugs in at the end of the cable and provides power upstream.
      (used on long runs where you have a device that doesn’t provide upstream phantom power or you have high (current) draw items like inline “mini” mixers or headphone preamp monitors (and some microphones)

      1. Oops… typo, Voltage drop across a run of cable=IR (not I/R)
        The explanation (and theory) is correct I just mistakenly put in a “/” between current and resistance in the formula

  3. I was initially excited when Thunderbolt was announced. However, with USB 3 ports being backwards compatible with USB 2 devices and TB being compatible with nothing without pricey adapters, the super-slow rollout of affordable peripherals, etc., well…

    ….if FW, err, excuse, TB (haha) was going to be a success in the consumer market to the point that it got significant consumer uptake – even granting that it’s a superior technology – then Intel (and Apple) needed to bite the margin bullet from the get-go – and Intel in particular should have seeded the tech in a fullish range of affordable peripherals from day one.

    History’s littered with examples of superior technologies that fell to others – or failed to displace them – for a variety of reasons, so success was never guaranteed without marketing.

    For now, though, TB’s looking like a tech that will find a valuable but smallish niche in the Enterprise (where PC’s are still the rule) and remain scarce as hen’s teeth in the home (where most TB-equipped Macs live)…

    …even as many average Mac owners (who don’t have that many ports especially on notebooks) may occasionally wonder, “what’s that funny one for?”

    …and lacking self-powering capability is just another coffin nail for consumer grade devices. Says the guy charging his phone, running his external drive and a few e-cig batteries via USB as he types…

    And yeah, I’ve been jonesing for a $300 33′ cable snaking around my home office floor… …as if…

      1. All new Macs have TB. What percentage of those are in the Enterprise and what in people’s homes/small businesses?

        Meanwhile only a tiny percentage of the PC’s that dominate big biz are TB equipped.

        Simple math.

  4. Who in hell wants a 33 foot cable snaking through the house? Not this guy! I want everything wireless except maybe the power cord (that too, if possible someday).

    1. Not necessarily through the house, but definitely through large video or audio installations. Being able to isolate equipment in machine rooms is a big part of the way these guys need to to business. They’re just as likely to want the 100 foot cables. And while they’ll squawk at the price a little, they’ll appreciate the convenience more.

      So this isn’t a big deal for users at home or in one-person companies. But it’s quite important if you’re a high-end facility.

  5. They will be used to connect things like the new 4K HDTV sets to the $3,000 Mac Pro. The tax on the 4k HDTV is far more than the $300 cost of the cable.

    Not to worry. You will not need one. You haven’t even considered the devices you would connect it to.

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