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Using PC Peripherals on the Mac
Pages: 1, 2


Using a USB hub on the Mac is straightforward. Plug it in and it should work fine.

Most USB hubs in the market support both the PC and the Mac platforms. I seriously do not think there will be any compatibility problems. Note however, that the latest USB version is 2.0, which is backward compatible with version 1.1, and most Macs still ship with USB 1.1. Be sure to buy a version 2.0 USB hub so as to protect your investment.


As I have described in my earlier article, I was able to use my 3Com USB Bluetooth adapter to work on my eMac (after some tweaking).

3COM Wireless Bluetooth USB Adapter
Figure 10. The 3COM Wireless Bluetooth USB Adapter.


D-Link DWB-120M USB Bluetooth adapter.
Figure 11. The D-Link DWB-120M USB Bluetooth adapter.

Cost-wise, I find that it is actually much cheaper to get the D-Link DWB-120M USB Bluetooth Adapter ( than the 3Com Bluetooth adapter.

SmartMedia Reader

Viking IntelliFlash USB Flash Memory Reader.
Figure 12. Viking IntelliFlash USB Flash Memory Reader.

Most digital cameras and MP3 devices support SmartMedia storage devices and hence it is not uncommon to find PC users equipped with readers of this type. I have a Viking IntelliFlash USB Flash Memory reader capable of reading PC cards, SmartMedia, and CompactFlash.

The reader that I have does not come with the latest driver for Mac OS X. Fortunately, I was able to download the latest driver for Mac OS X (see the IntelliFlash Installer X 10.1 in Figure 13) from Viking's web site.

Screen shot.
Figure 13. The IntelliFlash Installer X 10.1 for Mac OS X.

Once the driver is installed, just reboot to use the reader.

IBM MicroDrive

IBM MicroDrive.
Figure 14. The IBM 1GB MicroDrive.

One of the storage expansion kits available for handheld devices, digital audio players, and digital cameras is the IBM MicroDrive. The IBM MicroDrive is a one-inch hard disk drive that conforms to the industry CF+ Type II format. It is also compatible with PCMCIA Type II through the use of an adapter.

The 1GB IBM Microdrive that I use is for my Pocket PC--the iPaq 3870. Using the PCMCIA Adapter provided by IBM, I was able to get my eMac to read the drive by plugging it into my Viking IntelliFlash USB Flash Memory Reader.

Digital Camera

Most digital cameras are designed to work with both PC and Mac platforms. And so I have no problem connecting my FujiFilm FinePix 2800Zoom to my eMac.

When I plugged in my FujiFilm FinePix, iPhoto launches automatically. And you can then download the images onto your Mac rather effortlessly. FujiFilm, however, provides its own FinePix viewer, but iPhoto is sufficient for me.

Pocket PC

To be honest, the last device that I expected to work with my eMac was my iPaq 3870 Pocket PC. Since the Mac and the Pocket PC are running two drastically different operating systems, I wasn't too optimistic about getting them to talk.

However, as I found out, there are two ways to connect a Pocket PC to a Mac:

  • Running VirtualPC on your Mac: You can run Windows on your Mac as a virtual machine. See for a discussion of this technique.
  • Purchase PocketMac: PocketMac is a Mac application (supporting both Mac OS 9 and OS X) that syncs your Pocket PC and your Mac. It claims that it can connect your Mac to your Pocket PC via USB, TCP/IP, Ethernet, Airport, 802.11b, and so on). I have not tried it myself, but I believe this should be a useful tool for those Pocket PC users who wants to synchronize their iPaq with their Mac.

Figure 18. PocketMac: The original Mac-to-Pocket-PC Sync software.

What I have discovered, apart from the two methods described above, is that through my Bluetooth connection to the Mac, I was able to initiate a file transfer from my eMac to the iPaq. You just need to pair the two devices (see my earlier article for a discussion of Bluetooth connectivity) and drag and drop the file onto the Bluetooth File Exchange utility (installed with the Bluetooth Technology Preview 2.1 software).

Screen shot.
Figure 19. Files transfer using the Bluetooth File Exchange.

Upgrading Memory

My eMac comes with a measly 128MB memory, considering that most of my PCs have at least 512MB memory. The eMac uses the standard 168-pin DIMM memory. According to discussions on Apple's site, you can use PC memory on the Mac. For eMac, you should use PC-133 RAM, though there have been cases of people successfully using PC-100 RAM. In any case, I have not tried this and when in doubt, it is always wise to get a trained technician to do the upgrade for you. For those of you who want to do it yourself, Apple provides a self-help document.

Another thing that I have not tried is wireless connectivity via 802.11b. I am tempted to use my existing 802.11b USB adapter to try connecting wirelessly to the network, instead of using Apple's Airport card.

Apart from all the devices that I have described in this article, there are two devices that I am not able to get to work on my eMac. I have a HP5L laser printer and a serial port modem. As the eMac does not have a parallel port or a serial port, getting the printer and modem connected is not easy, unless you use special adapters.


Most devices that I have invested in for my PC are compatible with my new eMac. In general, devices that connect using standard interfaces like USB or FireWire should work without problems. The most you need to do is to hunt for the native software driver. I hope this article has shed some light for those of you who are considering getting a Mac and that it serve as reassurance that a Mac can be as affordable as a PC. Now, if someone could tell me how I can expand my screen real estate by connecting an additional monitor to my eMac....

Wei-Meng Lee (Microsoft MVP) is a technologist and founder of Developer Learning Solutions, a technology company specializing in hands-on training on the latest Microsoft technologies.

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