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August 6th, 1999

Review
Add USB To Your "Older" Mac With Ease!

Keyspan USB Card

Contact and Other Information
Manufacturer: Keyspan
Description: PCI card adding USB functionality.


Address: 3095 Richmond Parkway
Suite #207
Richmond, CA USA 94806

Price: $49 MSRP

$47.95 Outpost.com
(free shipping)


Telephone: (510) 222-0131


Fax: (510) 222-0323


Requirements Any Performa, Power Macintosh with an available PCI slot

Mac OS 8 (or above)


System Used For Testing Power Computing
Power Center 150
with G3 upgrade card

128 MB RAM

MacOS 8.6

Keyspan USB Card Review
by Dave Hamilton

Yep, here we are calling a Power Computing PowerCenter an "older" Mac. But it's true -- things have certainly changed, and in many ways left us behind. Well, thanks to all the good folks out there, like Keyspan, those of us with "older" machines can still take advantage of "newer" technologies, like USB. Their USB card is a PCI-based device that lets anyone with a Mac and a PCI slot (and OS 8) use USB devices just like everyone with an iMac and a Blue & White G3 can.

Installation

There are two pieces to the installation. The first is hardware. If you've ever installed a PCI card before, then this is not a problem. If you haven't, don't sweat it. It's not a problem. Just remove your Mac's cover, pop in the card, and button it back up.

As far as the software goes, it was just as simple. I popped the disk in, double-clicked the installer, and let it do it's magic. When it was done, it asked me to restart my computer.

One odd thing that's worth mentioning -- the installation diskette was PC formatted, yet contained only the Mac installation and documentation files. With most Macs having either PC Exchange or File Exchange installed, this isn't likely to be a problem, but for those folks who have this feature disabled, you'll have to re-enable it before proceeding.

USB'ing away

Once the card and software were installed, everything else was smooth as silk. I took a standard USB mouse, plugged it in (with the computer on, mind you) and it worked instantly. The Keyspan installer loaded software for typical USB devices, and this worked without a hitch.

Documentation

Once everything is installed and working, it's time to read the manual, right? The box contained a little note that pointed me back to the installation disk for documentation. I re-inserted the disk and opened the manual folder. Double-clicking (with my newly-activated USB mouse, of course) the introduction file brought up a dialog box that offered to open it in SimpleText. I let it do this, and was treated to a whole page full of HTML code. With that, I closed SimpleText and opened the file in my favorite Web Browser. HTML documentation is nice, but it should be easy for the user to activate. A little work with File Type/Creator codes back at the factory could have made my double-clicking endeavors a bit more fruitful. Nonetheless, when the documentation was finally visible, everything was perfect. It was concise, well thought out, and easy to follow. The HTML aspect made it easy to navigate, and there was no question left unanswered.

One Problem

We did encounter one glitch with the device -- if you're running MacOS 8.6 there is a problem with having devices connected at Startup. With only one device connected, we received the error "there is not sufficient power for XYZ USB device" and the USB mouse wouldn't work properly. This can be remedied with Apple's latest USB Adapter Card Support Update.

Conclusion

In a climate where USB devices are being released almost daily, it's well worth the $50 to have it available on an "older" Mac. When that spiffy new joystick or printer comes out next week, I'll be able to buy it and know that it will work with the next "new" computer I buy, too!


Final Score (Maximum score is 5 Gadgies)
4 Gadgies
Pros At $50, it's well worth adding USB to an older Mac. Installation was simple, and usage is even easier.
Cons The documentation was a bit clumsy, and the installation disk was formatted as a Windows Disk, which could cause problems for some users.



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