Over the past few years SCSI has disappeared from new Macs, to be replaced with USB and Firewire.
Now, PowerBook users are left with two choices for connecting SCSI: USB-to-SCSI adaptors are available, but have slow connection-speeds and varying levels of compatibility. Adaptec has provided a second choice with the PowerDomain SlimSCSI 1480, which offers Ultra SCSI speed and full compatibility with SCSI devices.
The SlimSCSI 1480 is a PC-card device, which is basically a scaled-down PCI card for portable computers. It connects to SCSI devices via a 45cm cable. This cable is a SCSI-2 cable that has 50 pins in a mini-D connector, and supports 20Mbytes (Mb) per second transfer.
It makes sense to supply this cable in the box, as it’s the maximum speed supported by the card, but it’s a pity that there is no adaptor supplied for slower SCSI devices.
The adaptors are £20-25 each, which is a considerable expense. Supplying the 50-pin micro-D-to-25-pin D-type adaptor would be a positive step. Adaptec already supply this adaptor with the cheaper USBXchange.
The SlimSCSI 1480 will support most legacy kits, as long as you have the adaptor. Most devices you’ll have used with the supplied SCSI port on your old Macintosh will be able to connect to this card. The SlimSCSI 1480 will also run up to seven SCSI-1 devices at 10Mb per second, rather than the 5MBps on an old Mac’s external port.
If you canconnect a device using the mini-D 50 pin SCSI-2 cables then you’ll be able to connect three devices at the 20MBps of Ultra SCSI. This is a substantial speed improvement over USB or normal SCSI, and is ideal for running SCSI disk-arrays for video editing. A PowerBook user might have a FireWire drive for working in the field and a larger SCSI array for editing in the office.
We tested this card with a variety of hard drives, a scanner and a Zip drive. All work flawlessly and the Zip drive and scanner had a noticeable speed increase, compared to standard external-SCSI. Newer 2000 PowerBooks will need the 1.1 driver and an update to Mac OS 9.04, but once this is done the software works very well. The SCSIprobe control panel, which allows you to see what is connected to the machine, is supplied with the card.
Hot-plugging is possible – but not recommended by Macworld – with the SlimSCSI card, you can eject the PC card and power-down the SCSI chain, add a device and then power up the chain and reconnect the card, all without rebooting.
This card will be a real benefit to people who have a expensive SCSI devices, such as high-end scanners or slide scanners. It will also be useful for external hard-drives, or CD-R/RW for data-access and backup. It’s fast, easy to use and reliable. If you have a PowerBook and need a quick SCSI solution, it’s obvious choice.