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Belkin Switch-To-Mac Cable review: Belkin Switch-To-Mac cable

Belkin's Switch-To-Mac package performs adequately, but at a high price for what's likely to be a single use cable.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
3 min read

7.3

Belkin Switch-To-Mac Cable

The Good

Lots of cable length. Software is simple.

The Bad

Price is high for a one-time switch. Only works with selected program data. Transfers everything even if it won't work on a Mac.

The Bottom Line

Belkin's Switch-To-Mac package performs adequately, but at a high price for what's likely to be a single use cable.

Design

How can we best describe the Belkin Switch-To-Mac Cable's innate beauty? Do we describe its beguiling lines, use of stunning post-modern colour schemes, lithe and slender lengths or comely plugs?

In a word, no. It's a cable. What can we say? USB plugs at each end, and a small white box not quite in the middle. That's not just pretty much it — that's all that can be said.

At 2.4m it's pretty lengthy, which could be handy if you've got a PC and Mac at a reasonable distance from each other. Like any other cable, even given it's got a velcro tie in-built to keep it looped, 2.4m of cable also allows for plenty of tangles around other USB cables, power cables, headphone cables, network cables and passing stray cats. Aside from the cable itself, the box also includes an installation CD and Quick install guide.

Features

The Switch-To-Mac cable really is one of those products that describes itself. It's designed for what Apple used to call "switchers" directly. Specifically, customers switching from Windows XP machines over to Mac who want a simple way to transfer over their data into the slightly different folder structures used on a Mac. The cable and accompanying software supports transfer of music, picture, video and document folders, as well as Outlook/Outlook Express mail folders, Internet Explorer bookmarks and desktop wallpapers.

Performance

Initial set-up of the cable involves installing a client utility on the PC you're transferring from — which is a mostly automated utility that launches immediately — and on the Mac you're shifting to. This is more problematic if Belkin's pitching the cable at a novice audience, as it doesn't automatically install; you've instead got to navigate to the Mac Install folder and run the .pkg file. Not a huge hassle, but not quite ease-of-use-friendly either.

Once you've done that, you plug the cable into both machines. The Mac and PC ends are labelled, but oddly only with paper labels that come off very easily. For what it's worth, the Mac end is the one closest to the inline box on the cable itself.

The next step involves launching Belkin's transfer utility at the PC end and then at the Mac end. When we did this out of the box we were prompted to install an updated version of the utility, which at least shows Belkin's keeping it updated nicely. Equally, you'd need to make sure you had an available net connection on each machine.

The transfer dialogs are logical and easy to understand, with direct check boxes for standard Windows folders, as well as the option to set custom folders for other content you wish to transfer.

The exact amount of time it takes to transfer your files is naturally going to vary depending on how many files you've got to shift. In our tests with 2.3GB of files, we managed a full transfer in under 10 minutes, with files logically shifting where they needed to go. You could even use the cable as an ad-hoc backup utility, as every time you run it it'll create separate folder instances of your PC transfers on your Mac.

There are some limitations to the cable and software, however. For a start, it'll only transfer from Outlook/Outlook Express into Mail, and Internet Explorer into Safari — there's no functional ability to use Firefox bookmarks despite its cross-browser status, or other mail clients. The software doesn't differentiate between documents and executables, and will transfer blindly whatever you tell it to, but that won't magically make Windows executables run on your Mac.

The cost of the cable kit is also an issue. We've seen the AU$99.95 RRP undercut online pretty heavily, but it's still costly, especially when you consider that new Mac buyers near enough to an Apple store could pay for a One To One subscription (currently AU$120) and get all their files transferred along with individual Mac training for a year, for AU$20 more than the cable alone. Given most users are only likely to genuinely use the cable once, we'd say that's a better value proposition — as long as you're close enough to an Apple outlet to take advantage of it.