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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Classic Macs and Mac OS > Why Does USB suck so bad???

Why Does USB suck so bad???
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Feb 24, 2000, 05:01 PM
OK, now maybe some of you people are going to argue it's my computer or my set or my lack of knowledge, but I've been on the mac since they came out and all I know is that with good old ADB I never once, in 15 years, lost usage of my keyboard, an event that happens at least once a week now.

I've about 8 USB devices hooked up to my G4 and have come to the conclusion that USB is itself just very fragile. It's just not uncommon to loose connection to one or more devices (unfortunatly if one goes they all tend to go). My experience is that once this happens the only solution is to unplug everything at the computer, startup with nothing, wait till the desktop is ready, and then replug everything (and listen to the harddrive to make sure the computer recognizes it all).

Well maybe I'm a stick in the mud, I've certainly got more functionality with all these things plugged in, but DAMNIT, ADB worked better for the keyboard!

ok, sorry about that, but it is frustrating.
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Feb 24, 2000, 08:08 PM
I haven't been confident enough about USB to put all of the stuff on line at once.

Some USB peripherals seem crappy. I have a QUE USB CDR drive that doesn't cause my USB to lock up but it also doesn't work as fast on my G4 as it did on the iMac 233. Why?

I've never had my keyboard, mouse, or game controller fail but I do have a Simpletech memory card reader that didn't work reliably and had to be unplugged between uses otherwise I get finder disk related messages periodically complaining about the card reader. This seems to have gone away with the software they released since I bought the product.

Are most peripherals, video cameras, speaker systems, card readers, zip drives, super drives, floppies, USB to SCSI adapters and whatnot ok with going through a hub? I've had feedback from QUE and Simpletech that indicate both of their devices want to be plugged directly into the Macintosh.

Is this common? If so, what use is a hub?

Tadd Torborg
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Feb 25, 2000, 12:49 AM
Yes, I'm not too happy with USB myself - and I've been on Macs since '84 and I know what I'm doing so no flames here kids
The worst offenders seem to be Zip drives. I actually like the SuperDisk drives and have not had much trouble with most mice. The MacAlly iKey keyboard is a piece o' junk - I've returned (nad thrown-away) a large percentage of those things.
Mainly it seems, the drivers just suck. Don't know why. ADB may be ancient, but it did work!

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Feb 25, 2000, 11:28 AM
i haven't had any problems yet, but a friend of mine lost use of his keyboard in starcraft a lot.
Walter J. Ferstl
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Feb 25, 2000, 01:32 PM
USB has been touted to substitute
- ADB for keyboards, mice, joysticks (i.e. low data rate devices)
- serial ports for medium data rate devices like modems, other serial devices, and
- high speed devices like SCSI in all its flavours.

Now if some stranger tells you he is a jack of all trades and excellent in all these areas - are you going to believe him?

Starting with the USB-only Macs (iMac, b/w G3), in a forum like this a huge number of questions have emerged that have been typical only for Wintels before (see the "Peripherals and Printers" section).

In my opinion, USB with its intrinsic flaws (and, maybe, poorly implemented driver software) is going to be a transitional technology and will be substituted by FireWire eventually which seems to be a better devised concept.

I will stick with my trusty ADB, serial, SCSI Macs until then. I even use my floppy drives frequently (but shhhh - don't tell anybody!)

And I still like platinum better than candy ;-)

(Mac user since 1986: 512K, Plus, SE/30, IIcx, IIci, LC III, Quadra 650, PM 7300, G3/233 DT).

[This message has been edited by Walter J. Ferstl (edited 02-25-2000).]
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Feb 25, 2000, 07:01 PM
Hmmm I must be doing something right!

I have an iMac DV with:
--Mac keyboard (itself a non-powered hub)
---MS Intellimouse
---Apple "puck" mouse (kind of for looks)
--Powered mini 4 port hub
---HP Deskjet 895CXi
---Iomega Zip drive
---AGFA SnapScan
---3COM Palm IIIXe

All is in working order, no problems.

Those of you that are using hubs... are they "bus" powered or are they plugged in to a wall outlet?

Keep smilling!

PC's are popular... MAC's Rule!

[This message has been edited by CyberGreg (edited 02-25-2000).]
Mac's Rule!

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Feb 26, 2000, 03:23 PM
As with all new hardware/software, it needs to mature to actually achieve what it is capable of.

I would like to see the person who has 8 USB peripherals try to hook up 8 devices to an old Mac with one ADB port and 2 serial ports to use. A port juggler or an expensive 4 port serial card would be required and wouldn't be much more stable than his problems.

I have had many problems trying to use all 7 SCSI devices on one bus as well. Some systems would be rock solid with this, and some would crash several times a day.

Also, another poster said that the B&W G3 is a USB only system - this is not true as it has 2 firewire ports.

I believe that USB will be around for a while because I don't want my keyboard taking up bandwidth on the same channel as my digital video capture device.

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Feb 28, 2000, 05:27 PM
Well, as I continue to struggle I've decided that there are just some USB devices that aren't worth it. They may work some of the time, but for some reason they don't work all of the time and when this happens they bring down the whole bus.

I've encountered to problematic devices so far. The first was an adapter from EPSON for my stylus3000 printer. I've since passed the printer on and solved that.

The second was a simple extender cable for my keyboard (not even a device, just a cable). Now I just plug my keyboard into the hub, which means I can't power up from the keyboard, but at least it works.

I won't argue that USB has added much functionality to our world, and I guess I just shouldn't be surprised that it still has a lot of kinks in it. It does, however, disappoint me that these kinks are not being covered in the main stream mac press.
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