Which CAT7 cable is the most flexible and easy to handle?
(This article was originally posted in Japanese at 17:44 Feb. 15, 2009)
As we happened to be short of LAN cable and went in search to our local Yodobashi Camera, they were enthusiastically promoting CAT7 cables but the business seemed slow, there seemed to be a bunch of it stocked up, covered in dust.
Admittedly not much customers are in need of Category 7 cable for 10 Gigabit Ethernet at home right now, and they are still rather expensive for ethernet cables, so it's quite understandable they won't sell much.
But assuming the day will come that CAT7 would be the required standard in network environment, we opted to purchase and test all three manufacturer's cable available at the store.
Read on for our test result with more pics.
Transfer rate should be too fast to really tell the differnce in this class of cables, so we focused on the physical usability, mainly the flexibility. Some of us need to reach those network accesories in odd angles, and since many of our staff use laptops, crunchy cable might be a bother to hookup everyday. Flexible, easily bent cable would be handy for those tricky connections and helps to keep our desks neat and tidy.
These are the three cables we've tested. 5 meter (16.5 ft.) cables by SANWA Supply, ELECOM, and Buffalo from left to right. All three had the same price, 3380 yen (about 36 dollars).
■ELECOM: LD-TWS/BM5 (3380 yen)
It says "High Flexibility" on the package.
JIS C 3005 standard, coated in flame retardant material.
As we twisted and pulled and bent and tangled it as much as we could, it did feel quite flexible and manageable.
The bent shape of the tab is actually very handy.
Fully gold-plated for corrosion-resistance.
■SANWA SUPPLY: KB-T7-05WR (3380 yen)
Comes in a bigger box than ELECOM's, looking kind of classy.
Feels a little solid than ELECOM's.
While it is a little harder to handle than ELECOM's, not as difficult as anticipated since the cable is a touch thinner.
Connector with unique round-ended tab.
The plated gold is strictly limited to required area.
■Buffalo: ETPC75BLA (3380 yen)
Greener (or cheaper) packaging than the other two.
Considerably stiffer than the other two.
Stiff, or rigid you can say. The cable is thickest of the three and the coating doesn't stretch much when you try to bend it. It feels quite durable though.
Looks like the most ordinary plug.
Gold-plated in the nessesary area.
■After one month of use
We used them uncoiled in the same manner for a month. From left to right: Buffalo, Sanwa Supply, Elecom.
The most rigid was Buffalo's. The coating has hard texture and strains when twisted. Feels durable but it might be just a feeling due to its solidness.
Sanwa Supply's felt moderately hard and moderately soft, quite capable but we'd prefered if it was just a little bit more flexibile.
Elecom's was the most flexible and easily handled, our favourite of the three so far. Though the cable was only slightly softer than Sanwa Supply's, it was far more flexible and could manage complicated connections without a fuss.
We figured out that the shape of rubber boots at the root of connectors matters as well as flexibility of the cable. Port number 5 is Elecom's, port 6 Sanwa Supply's, port 7 Buffalo's. You can see the hard rubber supported base of Elecom's is much shorter than the others, thus bendable from the root and easily handled.
If pressed, we prefer flexibility to durability in cables, though all three felt durable enough and can't really tell the difference in a month's duration. So Elecom's gained our favour but for those who prefer thick and solid cables for their reliable and durable, secure feeling, Buffalo's must be the best choice. Sanwa Supply felt moderate and should do for customers of any preference.
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