ExpressCard 34 Options

If you are an owner of a MacBook Pro, or a Laptop equipped with an ExpressCard/34 slot, you may not be aware of the options available to enhance your productivity or just expand available port options. As an owner of one of the early editions of the MacBook Pro (2.16 duo/100gb), I had a huge gripe with the folks at Apple for dropping the FW800 port that was a standard feature on the former PowerBook line. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, as subsequent model revisions have returned the FW800 slot to it’s deserved place on the right flank. This is great for new owners, but what do early adopters do when desiring the speed of FW800 or for that matter flying with eSATA?
When starting my search for a solution, naturally I turned to Mac. Surprisingly, none of the Ishrines even stock ExpressCard/34 adapters. The ExpressCard/34 slot lives on the left side of your MacBook Pro and if you have a wireless air card with Sprint, Verizon or ATT you are already aware of if (if not, see the picture above). When asking one of the Apple store sales associates about the reason for the lack of adapters, he asked me why I would need a FW800 slot as the speed was not significantly higher than FW400. As much as I love Apple, I am sometimes stunned by the answers I get from some of their employees. Time to look elsewhere.

BTW, For the record:
* USB 1.1 – 15 Mbps
* FireWire 400(1394a) – 400 Mbps
* USB 2.0 – 480 Mbps
* FireWire 800 (1394b) – 800 Mpbs
* SATA 1.5 – 1.5 Gbps
* SATA 3.0 – 3.0 Gbps

I checked Datavision and Comp USA (R.I.P.) to no avail. Further searches online yielded rather expensive solutions ($89-$119) with spotty user reviews. Then, while shopping for an external hard drive on the OWC website I found the Apiotek Extreme line of adapters for almost half the price ($59). I now own and use three of the Apiotek ExpressCard/34 adapters. One of the dual FW800 variety and two of the dual eSATA ($39) that run my OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro’s which i recently wrote about. Set up is a snap. The FW800 adapter does not require a driver and the eSATA model comes with a disc, or you can download the latest driver from Apiotek directly. Initially I wondered how well these adapters would operate given that they were so much cheaper than other models. But since I have had nothing but good experiences with OWC so far, it was a very easy decision.
I had some minor setup questions regarding the eSATA adaptor which OWC’s technical staff helped me out with and for the last 8 months all three adaptors have been running completely trouble free.
If you own one of the older, FW800-free, MacBook Pro’s and also own a FW800 ported external hard drive this is your solution for a considerable upgrade in speed. If you are considering an eSATA equipped external drive like the Mercury ELite-AL Pro, and you should, then this is the last piece of the equation you will need. OWC also features other ExpressCard/34 adaptors from Apiotek, it’s own line, and others including USB2.0, FW400, and media card readers.

Apiotek Dual FW800 Extreme:

Apiotek Dual eSata Extreme:

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