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Columns & Editorials

September 2nd, 1999

Connecting Your PDA To A USB Mac: Keyspan USB PDA Adapter
by Mike O'Hare

Keyspan USB PDA Adapter
Contact and Other Information
Manufacturer: Keyspan
Description: USB to Serial Adapter
Address: Keyspan
3095 Richmond Parkway
Suite #207
Richmond, CA USA 94806

Price: US$39 MSRP

US$34.95 -

Telephone: (510) 222-0131
Fax: (510) 222-0323
Requirements USB-capable Macintosh or

System Used For Testing Blue and White G3
If you own an iMac, a new Blue and White G3, or G4 and are thinking about connecting a Palm cradle, you'll need to get a USB to serial adapter. This is because these newer Macs don't have the traditional Mac mini-DIN 8 serial port, which the Palm MacPac adapter cable requires. Fortunately, there are companies like Keyspan that are always on the lookout for opportunities like this, and have a neat little product offering in their USB PDA Adapter.


Our experience was rocky at first, since we went straight to the hardware and didn't notice the CD in the package which contained a driver and (well-written) HTML instructions. Once you familiarize yourself with the manual, you'll be well prepared to install the adapter and associated driver. Palm users should visit the MacPac Version 2 site to make sure they have the latest software. iMac users should be sure to download Palm's USB fix to assure smooth operation.

We have used another USB to serial adapter made by Momentum called the uConnect. It retails higher than the Keyspan product, but it includes both 9 pin and mini-DIN 8 connectors for those looking to connect other peripherals. Keyspan has recently introduced a USB to Twin Serial Adapter (look for an upcoming review) that includes 2 mini-DIN 8 ports. If you have the old MacPac with the 8 pin adapter, these may work.
he extra keyboard USB port was used since our test system was already using the USB port on the back of the CPU for an external floppy drive. Since the cradle doesn't require any power, this seemed to be a good solution. Note that this may not work with other USB devices which need to draw power from the USB bus. Fortunately, MacOS will usually alert you to this fact.


Once the appropriate driver and patches are applied, the Palm HotSync operation worked just as it should with a machine using the classic 8-pin serial connector and the MacPac adapter cable.


As with so many other accessories for the new Macs, the Keyspan adapter is molded in translucent plastic (do these products remind anyone of the Visible Man anatomy model?). The braided metal cable with see through covering is a nice touch.


Until the folks at 3Com introduce a USB cradle, slated for late September based on our most recent information, this looks like the best option if all you need is a Palm connection.

Final Score (Maximum score is 5 Gadgies)
4 1/2 Gadgies
Pros Smooth, seamless operation.
Cons Out-of-box instructions weren't exactly clear
on first look, though a subsequent examination
of the CD cleared up all issues.

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