Alternate Option
Thoughts from me.
Friday, June 10, 2005 11:49 pm
Macintel: Safe(r) recommendations for buying peripherals
The word “sell-out” is frequently uttered, in relation to the Apple switch to Intel. Personally, I hope one day Steve Jobs’ WWDC 2005 keynote will be remembered fondly. The day when Apple decided not to muck around with 2-bit microprocessor manufacturers, and ally itself with the 800-pound gorilla of microprocessor manufacturers.

Or maybe this will be remembered as Apple’s Waterloo—I hope not.
In a crucial part of his keynote, SJ listed 4 types of software—scripts etc, Cocoa, Carbon, and non-Xcode applications. I’m not sure which group driver software fall into. And drivers are one of those things that will cause headaches next year. When I switched myself, my family and my in-laws to Macintosh, there would invariably be an old scanner or printer floating about which would be forgotten prior to Mac-purchase, and hyper-important after Mac-purchase.

Surprisingly, I have been able to find drivers for most of the above cases. Sometimes even when the cartridges for said printers were difficult to find.

For those keen on buying peripherals for their Macs, it would be safer if:
  1. The product you buy follows some a known standard. e.g. a PostScript printer, DVI monitor, USB audio.
  2. The product you buy follows some sort of standard. e.g. Gimp-Print. If it works on Linux, that’s a plus. If a scanner works via Image Capture, that’s a good sign (but not a guarantee).
  3. The product you buy is as generic as they come. e.g. get a USB card reader or digital camera that does not need a driver or specific software for file transfer. Or a USB multibutton mouse and keyboard that you are happy with without installing the supplied software.
  4. The product you buy has an appropriate interface. i.e. printers and scanners should be USB. Printers can also be Ethernet. Webcams should be iSight, or FireWire, or a generic Handycam. Webcams should not be USB/USB2. Hard disks should be Firewire (although USB2 should work now). ADSL modems should be Ethernet, not USB.
  5. The product you buy, should have a company that has a history of supporting Mac OS. e.g. I would consider Griffin Technology, ElGato, MacAlly products to be fairly safe to buy.
Personally I would be particularly worried about buying: USB-based wireless dongles, USB-based ADSL modems, GPS modules, PalmOne hardware, PCI TV-input cards or PCI SCSI cards. Even more worrying would be those high end cards that some users rely upon: e.g. for music, sound processing, fast networking etc… And those are pricey too. I don’t have any experience in those unfortunately. And I am grateful.

ps: I have taken 15 minutes to put my thoughts to text. Caveat emptor, YMMV etc.

[posted with ecto]


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