Leonardo USB 2/1

In the dim and distant past, when I was a freelance consultant, my first job was setting up ISDN for a repro house. It wasn’t that difficult, but it did require the installation of an internal ISDN card. Proper ISDN devices have always needed to be installed internally – until now. Hermstedt has released the Leonardo USB – which has all the capabilities of an internal card, but in an external box. You may think Hermstedt’s WebShuttle already provides ISDN via USB. Well it does, but not for peer-to-peer transfers. For direct-file transfers from one computer to another, without going via the Internet, something else is needed. Until now, an internal card, such as the Leonardo ISDN card, would be the only choice – but now Leonardo USB will do the job. Only slightly bigger than the WebShuttle, the Leonardo USB is sleek, silver and purple. It’s powered through the USB connection. This means it must be run either directly from the USB port on the back of the Mac, or from a powered-USB hub. On the front is a row of coloured lights that do a little jig on start-up, then settle down to display various activities – such as connection. Leo Express is included, which enables connection to other cards running the same software. Grand Central Pro 2.0 (GC Pro) isn’t included, but it’s available for an additional £199 – if you want to get the most out of Leonardo USB, it’s essential. And, GC Pro has full compatibility with all other cards and protocols. There’s no need to use the Leonardo USB only for peer-to-peer connections, it can also be used for high-speed Internet access. Using Multilink PPP, a 128K connection to the Internet is possible, provided the ISP supports it. Fortunately most good ISPs do, at no extra cost. Remember that using both 64K channels costs the same as using two telephone lines. I looked at the two-channel, single-fax port model. For a little extra, there’s a four-channel model with a single-fax port, or a model with four channels and two fax ports. The fax capability is controlled by the bundled Fax Express Solo Light software. If a four-channel 256K connection still doesn’t seem fast enough, you can attach up to eight Leonardo USB adaptors at once. You’ll need some powered USB hubs to achieve this, but it would give 32 connections of 64K each. This is the equivalent to having a 2Mbit connection.

OUR VERDICT

The external Leonardo USB is actually cheaper than the internal PCI version, making it a good deal. It’s more expensive than the less functional WebShuttle (which sells for £159). But, depending on how it’s used, the Leonardo USB save it’s cost in couriers in weeks.

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