Back in January I was able to steal a few moments of Jon Rubinstein’s time (Apple Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering and a really nice guy). Among other things, I was curious to hear his opinions about USB 2.0 and its possible inclusion on future Macs.
Of course Jon wasn’t able to say much to someone wearing a media badge, but it seemed to me by his remarks and expressions that bringing USB 2.0 to the Mac wasn’t exactly a top priority on his task list.
Why caused this topic to bubble up tonight? Well, I just stumbled across the greatest bargain in film scanners ever, the Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III that packs a powerful scanning punch (optical resolution 2,800 dpi, multi-sampling, and 4.8 dynamic range) and sells for less than $300. If you’ve shopped for film scanners, you can understand my enthusiasm here. Those specs usually cost you three times more.
The Duo Scan is both Mac and Windows compatible featuring a USB 2.0 interface that also works with the older 1.1 standard. According to Minolta’s features overview, the speed difference is notable: 30-second scans for USB 2.0, and 48 seconds for USB 1.1. That difference adds up as you work through a stack of slides and a six pack of Coke.
So I go over to PC Connection and search for a USB 2.0 PCMCIA card for my PowerBook. Looks like IOGEAR had engineered the Dual Port Hi-Speed USB 2.0 card that sells for $64 US. According to the catalog description, it auto configures and requires no additional drivers. I’d love to get my hands on this card and the Duo Scan III to see how they work with Mac OS X.
But here’s my point: USB 2.0 is somewhat threatening to the FireWire golden goose, and Apple isn’t about to prop up this standard the way it did for 1.1. At the moment, there aren’t a ton of USB 2.0 devices, but they seem to be emerging faster than I had anticipated.
If you own a desktop Mac, you can always add a 2.0 PCI adapter and be on your way. But if you’re in the market for a laptop, keep in mind the value of a PCMCIA slot. iBooks and 12″ PowerBooks don’t have ‘em.
If Apple is going to sit tight with USB 1.1, you might want to leave your options open and get a laptop with PCMCIA slot.
Have you used IOGEAR’s Dual Port Hi-Speed USB 2.0 card? If so, what’s your report?