Review: Griffin Technology Dock800 and Dock400 Cables
Pros: White, licensed FireWire-to-iPod Dock Connector cables for either typical FireWire (400) ports or high-speed FireWire (800) ports, at reasonable prices.
Cons: While affordable, neither cable is cheap. As accurately advertised, Dock800 offers no speed benefit, just the convenience of tapping an unused port for power and syncing.
The only reason we’re reviewing Griffin Technology’s new ClearChoice Dock 800 Cable for Dock Connecting iPods ($19.99) is this: some high-end Mac owners will like them. At a time when Apple’s standard FireWire (aka FireWire 400) ports are widely viewed as having given way to USB 2.0 in Apple’s current and future plans, FireWire 800 ports are even less common - arguably almost irrelevant to 99% of the population. They’re found only on Macintosh computers of recent vintage, and intended for super high-end data transfers - say, high-definition digital video that needs to be quickly transferred from tape to computer.
The good news is that since most Mac owners don’t use these FireWire 800 ports, they’re perfect places to keep cables connected for synchronizing and charging iPods. And we mean perfect. Dock 800 frees up a more precious USB or standard FireWire port for whatever you might need. Just like a standard FireWire cable, it will sync and charge your iPod at the same time when connected to a computer.
The bad news is that Griffin has said since the beginning that the Dock 800 Cable provides no other benefit in terms of transfer speeds over a standard FireWire cable - which Griffin incidentally now sells as a Dock 400 Cable ($14.99). The Dock 400’s just like Apple’s cable and uses Apple-licensed parts, but sells for $4 less.
Griffin’s claims about Dock 800 proved accurate in our testing: transfer speeds for 400 Megabytes worth of files were a mere one second apart between the Dock 800 and a standard Apple FireWire cable. This difference was almost certainly attributable to a brief iTunes pause at the beginning of the Apple cable’s transfer process, not anything in the cables themselves.
Our feelings about both cables are about the same. While there’s no reason to rush out and get a Dock 800 for performance reasons, if you have a Mac with an unused FireWire 800 port and didn’t get a FireWire cable with your (recent-model) iPod, it’s definitely a better purchase than one of Apple’s standard iPod cables - even for a $1 additional premium. If you just need a typical FireWire cable, pick Griffin’s over Apple’s. The price is right, the performance is identical, and the parts are just as good.