When a recent Macworld feature proclaimed the PowerBook G3 series "Desktop Invaders" that threatened to replace deskbound computers, we weren't kidding. These days, many Mac users (including some Macworld editors) use a PowerBook as their primary Mac for both home and work. But it's a bit inconvenient to plug in an assortment of cables every time you connect your PowerBook at your desk, then detach them when you're ready to go; it would be better to plug all those cables into a dock (much like Apple's old Duo Dock), then insert or remove your PowerBook with one easy motion.
That's the idea behind Newer Technology's BookEndz dock (available not only for the PowerBook G3 but also for several other models). Unfortunately, the dock doesn't offer enough convenience to justify its lofty price tag. Unless you've got a cable for almost every port on your PowerBook, the BookEndz simply won't save you much time.
Made of black plastic that matches the PowerBook G3, the BookEndz is the width of a PowerBook and slightly longer. To dock your PowerBook, you set it (with the port door open) on the flat part of the BookEndz and slide it into the dock's back end, which contains plugs that match up with every port on the PowerBook. Once ensconced in its new home, the portable is connected to anything you've attached to the ports on the back of the dock.
In addition to replicating all of your PowerBook's ports, the BookEndz adds a few clever extrascomposite-video out; RCA audio out; and a standard 25-pin SCSI port (found on most desktop Macs) rather than the square, compact PowerBook SCSI connector. The feet on the bottom of the dock ensure that your PowerBook doesn't slide around on the deska problem if you find yourself wanting to reposition your PowerBook occasionally.
Although attaching a PowerBook to a BookEndz dock requires less movement than attaching all the cables directly to the PowerBook, it really isn't much of a time-saver. And because the BookEndz dock fits so snugly to the back of the PowerBook, you may have to spend some time pushing on your PowerBook until the two devices are fully connected.
Macworld's Buying Advice
The BookEndz isn't without some nice features. If you fill up most of the ports on your PowerBook, you may find it saves you some time. If you'd prefer not to fuss with a SCSI adapter or want to take advantage of the dock's audio- and video-out converters, the BookEndz can be usefulalthough a low-cost adapter could work just as well. The bottom line: if you're willing to spend $249 to save a few seconds of plugging and unplugging devices every day, that's your choice. It just doesn't seem particularly prudent to us.
RATING: PROS: Can save some time if you connect a lot of cables to your deskbound PowerBook. CONS: Expensive. COMPANY: Newer Technology (316/943-0222, http://www.newertech.com ). COMPANY'S ESTIMATED PRICE: $249.
July 1999 page: 61