Apple’s latest Power Mac G3 systems have plenty to offer, including USB and high-speed FireWire ports. But what do you do with your printers, modems, cameras, or other peripherals that require a serial connection? You could add a PCI card with a serial port, but that would consume one of only three PCI slots. A better answer is GeeThree.com’s Stealth Serial Port, a $50 device that plugs into the modem slot of blue Power Mac G3 models.
The Stealth Serial Port consists of a small interface board, along with a ribbon cable and serial-port connector. Because it takes up the modem slot, it precludes the use of an internal modem, but you can employ the Stealth to connect an external serial modem.
Installing the device is a breeze: you remove a metal plate from inside the computer, screw in the serial connector, attach a cable, and plug the interface card into the modem slot. Just add a system extension, and you’re ready to go. Our only complaint is that the package didn’t include the necessary software on a CD-ROM. Instead, you have to download the extension from GeeThree.com’s Web site. It’s just a 40K download, but it’s still an inconvenience. Fortunately, a CD containing the extension and additional software should be available by the time you read this.
Once it’s installed, the Stealth works just like the built-in serial connections in older Macs. For example, if you want to print, you select the printer in the Chooser and then select the port from the Connect To list. If you want to use LocalTalk, open the AppleTalk control panel and select Modem Port from the pop-up menu. To sync your G3 with a Palm device, open HotSynch Manager, click on the Serial Port Settings tab, and select Stealth Serial Port from a pair of pop-up menus.
We tested the port by performing several common tasks. We printed a ten-page document on an Epson Stylus Color 740; dialed into an Internet service provider, using an external U.S. Robotics modem; and transferred a 30MB application via a serial-to-serial connection. The port worked flawlessly in each case and was just as fast as a regular serial connection.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
The Stealth Serial Port is a simple, inexpensive hardware product that lets you use printers, modems, and other serial devices without consuming one of the blue G3’s precious PCI slots. It precludes the use of an internal modem and currently requires that you download the software from the Web, but the latter is a minor inconvenience that should be fixed when the company begins shipping a CD with the product. If you’re looking for a way to keep using those old serial devices, the Stealth Serial Port is the ticket.