Cable Companion

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Wireless networking has become so pervasive—every Apple laptop now comes with AirPort Extreme built-in—that I’m sometimes surprised when I can’t find a wireless network nearby. Yet there many situations where this may be the case, and I admit to having been caught without a network cable, or even a phone cord for dial-up.

For those who travel a lot—or work in an environment where having cables handy is a boon—RoadWired’s $25 CORDZ Multi-Connection Survival Tool (   ) is a handy option. As a 3.75” x 2.75” plastic case holding a retractable, 7-foot Ethernet cable—the cable can be pulled out and locked in place in 3-inch increments; pressing the retract button automatically reels the cable back in—the Survival Tool’s name may be a bit melodramatic, but its functionality can indeed save your bacon in a networking pinch.

Some readers are probably thinking, “But I’ve seen lots of retractable phone and Ethernet cables, and they’re a lot smaller than this thing.” True. But the Cordz Survival Tool has two significant advantages. First are the included adapters, which make the RoadWired product a “Multi-Connection” Survival Tool: You get two RJ45 (Ethernet) to RJ11 (phone) converters, which turn the Ethernet cable into a standard phone cable. You also get an RJ45 “splitter” which allows you to turn a single Ethernet jack into two. And you get an Ethernet crossover adapter which turns the standard Ethernet cable into a crossover cable—useful for connecting two computers together without the use of a hub. (Note that newer Apple computers have auto-sensing Ethernet jacks that switch to “crossover” mode when necessary; however, older ones do not.) An included nylon carry pouch holds the Survival Tool and adapters.

RoadWired Cordz image

The second advantage—especially for IT staff—is that the Survival Tool provides 7 feet of Cat5e cable; most competing products use lesser-quality cable that doesn’t support the fastest of networks. In fact, the larger size of the Survival Tool is due mostly to the heavy-duty cable itself.

If all you need is a phone cable, the RoadWired Survival Tool is surely overkill. But road warriors, consultants, and IT types will want to take a look.

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