Now that USB 3.0 has arrived, I need to rekindle this battle of mine. I want this discussion to be about the actual merits of each protocol, not the technical specs. meaning, I don't care if usb 3.0 is technically capable of transferring 12 megabits per second, that's not what I'm after here. I'm looking for people's actual experiences with these devices, in a practical way. I think most of us are familiar with the technical merits of each device, that's not very interesting. I mean, just to summarize: esata is not very common, but is the same technology used on hard drives. usb is extremely common, usb 3.0 is backwards compatible, it's still new, not all motherboards support it, blah blah...
Now, I've been fortunate enough to get one of those new Sony Vaio Z laptops which does have a legit usb 3.0 connection. The same USB 3.0 port also has a very clever customized by Sony Light Peak built into it, that is used with it's special docking system. It's probably the only light peak/USB connector currently available on a commercial product right now. I also got that really great HD enclosure by Dat Optics, that has esata and usb 3.0 connectors on it. So I'm all set up to run all sorts of experiements.
I am personally a big fan of esata. Why? Reliability. Unlike USB, normal use of esata gets really top notch speeds. i don't know the numbers exactly, but it's faster than any other connection I've ever used. And it's not flaky. It works if other things are attached to the computer. I like the physical connector also compared to usb. It seems to be far more reliable than USB. By reliable, I mean it's always going fast and during long transfers it doesn't dip down and up in speed.
I've now used usb 3.0 on the laptop and also with the HD enclosure. Very flaky. USB has always been a flaky experience for me, ever since the beginning. I don't know why...perhaps drivers, hardware compatibilities, whatever. No version of USB was even close to as fast as the speeds that they advertise on the boxes and specs. We're now at usb 3.0, and it's actual experienced output could now possibly be as fast as what usb 2.0 promised in the specs? So silly. And again, I don't care what the reason is, that's what it is. I'm just trying to cut through all the usb BS specs.
Also, can we talk about mega-BYTES, and not mega-bits? megabits is some BS the hardware manufacturers picked up on long ago to inflate the numbers they get to plaster on all their boxes and ads. Nobody thinks in terms of bits unless they are a modem engineer. It's bytes folks. But then they wouldn't be able to confuse people.
Anyway, so at one point I was getting 70-90 MBps on the laptop's usb 3.0 connection. But when I used it on the light peak dock's usb 3.0 port, it went down to usb 2 speeds, like 30MBps. So last week I spent 3 hours on the phone with Sony trying all sorts of stuff (I got elevated to level 5! that's like calling in the general!). We're going to continue next week, it's still not solved. But as usual, the usb connection is as flaky as ever.
It's fine for non-essential activities, like transferring things to a thumbdrive, or using an external drive here and there, or the other peripheral devices. It's a remarkable innovation for that stuff. But for sustained file transfer operations and long term reliability and usage, I don't like it. I use esata for that or anything else for that matter: IDE, pcie, sas, etc. For some reason, all those are more reliable than usb.
That's it, rant over. That's how I feel about esata and usb. If anyone wants me to try out some stuff regarding usb 3.0, esata, or light peak, I'd be more than happy.