XpressSCSI

I got this product to review because SCSI hates my guts, and always has. As production editor of Macworld, I rely on it for endless copying to and from 1GB Jaz disks. But it dogs my every step – crashing me in ways that beggar belief and, to date, necessitating three clean installs of my system software. Fittingly, in the course of Jaz speed-testing the Microtech USB XpressSCSI adaptor against SCSI, my G3 Power Mac blew up. Idiotically – given my track record – I failed to shut down before moving from from the XpressSCSI adaptor to SCSI. It blew the internal SCSI link on my hard disk, costing myself and our Reviews Editor a day’s work. I’m now on a different machine while waiting for a replacement part. Plug-&-d’oh
This debacle – and similar SCSI fragilities – makes USB’s hot-swapability a real plus, whether you need it for an external hard drive, removable media or a scanner. The adaptor supports up to seven devices in plug-&-play fashion, recognizing them on-the-fly. The one-metre adaptor has a standard USB connector on one end, and a male SCSI DB25 connector at the other. USB 1.1-compliant, the Xpress SCSI also comes with PhotoFolio 2.x photo-correction software. Microtech says that all driver updates will be free of charge and available on its Web site (www.microtechint.com). The company also sells a 25-pin version of the XpressSCSI, which is aimed at owners of older SCSI peripherals. With USB connectivity, speed is always the rub: this device delivers data at a meagre 1.2MB per second. After demolishing one machine, I did manage to run my speed tests on another – a 300MHz G3 Power Mac. Using SCSI, a 73.7MB file took 48 seconds to copy to an Iomega 1GB Jaz drive and 26 seconds to copy back. The XpressSCSI adaptor, though, took 2:25 and 2:11 respectively. In the speed stakes, it’s more all-aggro than allegro.

OUR VERDICT

For iMacs owners with a stack of SCSI peripherals, the XpressSCSI is your only option. With no SCSI-card capability on any iMac, a USB-to-SCSI adaptor is all that can save your SCSI devices from the classified ads. If you’re a Power Mac G3 owner – and speed is crucial to your work – you’d be better off buying a SCSI card. But for SCSI Jonahs like myself, the speed trade-off is less of an issue. The XpressSCSI may be a slowcoach, but at least it’s a slowcoach that remains between the kerbs.

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