Our latest cable product, Data Drop in a Box, is now available on HomeDepot.Com. This is the first all-inclusive cabling kit on the market, and we think it's a game changer for its convenience, cost, and quality; but we've been challenged. If you go to Home Depot, can you get all the parts à la carte and do it better/cheaper?
Let's Dare to Compare: Data Drop in a Box vs. Á la Carte
For this mission we needed:
- Surface Mount Box
- RJ45 Jacks x2
- Patch Cords x2
- Cable Ties x2
- Single Gang Bracket
- Termination Tool
- 100 ft. of Cat6 Cable
We headed to our local Atlanta Home Depot to start shopping. We made our way to the correct aisle and immediately noticed a problem, we were planning on comparing a 100 ft. Cat6 Riser data run, but that cable wasn't even an option at a reasonable length or price. The only Cat6 cable they had was a 500 ft. box for $90. The only smaller increments of cable were 100 ft. Cat5E Riser, 100 ft. Cat5 Indoor/Outdoor, and 250 ft. Cat5E Plenum. Cat6 and plenum cable were only available in 250-1000 ft.
To do a fair comparison, we would need to reevaluate a couple of things. Luckily, Data Drop in a Box comes in a variety of flavors:
- Cat5E and Cat6
- Plenum and Riser
- 100, 150, and 200 ft.
So we purchased the cheapest Cat5E 100 ft. of cable they had, got everything else on our shopping list, and headed out.
Only to realize once we got back that something was missing...
We had gotten a punch down tool that was a bit expensive (but still the cheapest option) to help us terminate the cable. After a closer look though, the RJ45 jacks that we bought came with a small plastic punch down tool; so we purchased a tool we didn't need. However, neither punch down tool was capable of cutting the cable. This meant we had to head back to Home Depot for trip #2 to get a pair of data comm snips.
Now that we had everything, it was time to compare our bounties. Right off the bat, you can tell the difference between the two products. The à la carte option had a lot of packaging and loose items, Data Drop in a Box came in one sleek box with all of the components organized at the top.
As for the individual products, there were a couple of things worth noting.
- Termination Tool: Data Drop in a Box comes with a data comm snip and punch down multi-tool. This is a great way to get the job done without spending a ton of money on tools you'll probably never use again (like $10 data comm snips).
- RJ45 Jacks: The jacks have to match the category of cable, you can't intermix them. Buying them separately (à la carte) means you could potentially mix them up.
- Faceplate: The faceplate that comes with DDB is a bit more professional than the standard one we bought at Home Depot. This is useful if you're in a professional environment and you need to label the plate.
Next, it was time to put the cable to the test and pull it. We fastened Data Drop in a Box to the ladder with the zip ties that came with it and started pulling, it was smooth and steady.
The Home Depot cable came in a bag and had memory which made it spiral, this can make it more difficult to pull in the ceiling. When we started pulling it was smooth and easy but about halfway through things changed, the cable in the bag didn't have anything to hold it down so as it got lighter, it began to jump and move around. Eventually, the cable in the bag started to get tangled and became significantly harder to pull. Data Drop in a Box was a smooth pull the entire time since it was anchored down.
We dared to compare, what was the final verdict?
Data Drop in a Box: Everything you need is in one sleek box with minimal packaging. All of the parts match (same category jacks and cable).
Á la Carte: Loose items. May have to make multiple trips to the store. Could potentially buy the wrong items. If you have to buy excess cable and tools you'll have to store them when the project is over.
Winner: Data Drop in a Box
Data Drop in a Box: Can anchor the box to a ladder or chair with the zip ties provided, so that the box stays put while you pull the cable. The reel inside of the box also means the cable coils less.
Á la Carte: Comes in a plastic bag with a slit in it. Easy to pull in the beginning but as you get halfway through the bag starts to jerk around, the cable gets tangled, and it becomes difficult to pull.
Winner: Data Drop in a Box
Data Drop in a Box: One of the only options for smaller cable lengths, plenum, or Cat6. By only buying the amount of cable you need you're able to save a lot of money.
Á la Carte: For a Cat5e cable run under 100 ft. buying á la carte will save you a couple of bucks, but for 100+ ft. of Cat5E cable, plenum cable, or Cat6 cable, you will have to purchase a lot more cable then you need. You will also have to spend money on tools you may not need again.
Winner (For Cat5E 100 ft.Riser): Á La Carte
Winner (For Other Lengths/Types): Data Drop in a Box
It’s pretty clear cut which product won in this face off. In our opinion, the convenience and ease of pulling are well worth the couple of extra dollars if you need 100 ft. of Cat5E cable. If you want any other type of cable, then it isn’t even a comparison. Data Drop in a Box blows away all the other options by offering a variety of cable options in smaller increments.
Overall Winner: Data Drop in a Box
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