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Thoughts from me.
Thursday, January 12, 2006 11:25 pm
MacIntels: achilles heel is 3rd party hardware support

The Macintels are here, and on paper look tremendous. Debate rages about the FireWire 800 issue, the modem issue, the missing 86400 pixels, and the ExpressCard issue.

There’s also the single vs dual DVD writer issue

And the price issue

I’m a heavy user of the FW800 port, and think there is a noticeable performance increase, when using a daisy chain of FW800 devices. I have noticed that plugging devices into both the FW800 and the FW400 port on my Rev A aluminium 15" PowerBook slows both ports down—which probably means there’s only a single bus on the motherboard to start with. If Apple wasn’t going to rectify this, maybe removing a FW port was a good idea.

Perhaps Apple should have removed the FW400 port instead.

The PowerBook is extremely tempting. Of course I am concerned that it is a Rev A product, but… my biggest reservation is compatibility with 3rd party hardware.

I expect storage and display devices should work perfectly, as should Postscript printers. But what about scanners, tablets and other printers, e.g. inkjet printers? The built-in GIMP printing should help somewhat, but my Canon i865 isn’t on the chart of supported printers. Less likely to work would be my Canon ScanSnap, my Epson Perfection 1670 scanner, and my Wacom tablet—in the short term at least. All those devices need a driver of sorts, because unfortunately there isn’t an industry standard. My HP LaserJet 2300 which uses Postscript requires a PPD and should work—although I suspect some printer plug-ins are also required.

Some 3rd party hardware manufacturers make an effort to release Macintosh drivers, and then let them languish without updates. Canon did this for some of the early USB scanners they released. So does HP apparently—although I don’t own one personally, the reason for this is that I have been scared off for that reason. Palm does this to a lesser extent—their official stance at one time was Mac users would do better to contact Markspace for Macintosh support. However since then they released “Revision D” of an existing driver. Who knows what that company is up to.

There’s an advantage of being a computer novice—fewer hardware compatibility requirements.

I know lots of Macheads have already plonked down their $ for a Macintel, so I’m sure there’ll be the tales of sorrow soon enough—hopefully eased by some updated Macintel drivers. Thank goodness for early adopters—saves the rest of us the trouble.

[posted with ecto]

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