Gadget-hungry Mac fanatics have some cool choices

Apple's small but loyal customer base can pick up a virtual reality-type controller glove

first published in Business in Vancouver, Issue #618, August 28, 2001 CurrentZ section: GearGuide column


Macintosh owners have tended to buy more gadgets, on average, than PC owners. Perhaps that?s why lots of cool gadgets come out for the Mac first, or sometimes only for the Mac.

July?s MacWorld show, in New York City, featured some 400 vendors, showing off their Mac-ware to the over 60,000 attendees. Some favourites:

Better drawing

Essential Reality?s P5 Glove took us back to heady days of the early ?90s, when virtual reality was promised for any day now. The P5 Glove fits over your hand, and lets finger movements control a wide range of computer controls manipulating images and motion. It should be a winner as a game controller, but also has promise for graphics designers looking for more natural, artistic control over their digital art. Oh yeah, as a USB gadget, expect to find PC versions as well. (, $200)

Many Macs are used for creating digital art. And while you can draw with your mouse, most of us do better with something more like pen and paper. Vancouver (Washington) Wacom Technologies ( has long been a leader in digital tablets and pressure sensitive pens. Their new Intuos line of tablets ranges in size from a handy 4x5? ($275) to a hefty 12x18? ($1000). Along with pens and mice, there?s a new digital airbrush ($150). All include Painter Classic software, and a pen-friendly Photoshop plug-in. If you don?t need any more wires on your desk, their Graphire units offer a pressure-sensitive 4x5? tablet, complete with mouse, pen, and software bundle for either Mac or PC in a choice of six Mac-matching colours for a budget friendly $150.

Apple is including recordable DVD drives in its high-end systems, but the rest of us can also make our own DVD disks. Swiss-company Vivastar, for example, offers an internal RS-111 model for $1200 and an external RS-121 for $1350. Or check out Pioneer?s DVR-103 drive, which can write both 4.7 GB DVD disks or the more common 700 MB CD-R/RW disks (about $1000).

No wires

Similarly, an option popular with many owners of current Macs is Apple?s Airport wireless networking. Older Powerbook owners need not feel left out, however. They (along with PC notebook owners) can connect to Airport or other 802.11b wireless networks with the $270 Skyline 11 wireless PC Card from Farallon ( Like Apple?s original unit, it promises about 150? of wireless connectivity. The company is a leader in Mac-friendly networking products, and also offers home phone line networking, allowing both Macs and PCs to connect and share Internet connections anywhere there?s a phone jack.

Similarly, Xsense ( offers Mac and PC-compatible wireless networking, with their XRouter Aero ($450) wirelessly sharing an Internet connection with up to 253 Macs and PCs. Unlike Apple?s similarly-priced Airport Base Station, the Aero includes a 4-port Ethernet switch, for connection to conventional wired-networks. The company also offers AeroCard PC Card and the USB AeroPad to add wireless connectivity to Mac and PC notebooks and desktops.

For iMacs, big and small

Many Mac owners have been able to stretch their computers? useful life with processor upgrades. While the original iMacs were best-sellers a few years ago, their 233 to 300 MHz G3 processors are starting to feel slow. Sonnet Technologies? HARMONi G3 ($450) will boost these models to 500 MHz, and add FireWire for ultra-fast connectivity, just like the new iMacs. Check for their complete line-up of Mac processor upgrade kits.

An iMac for $23? Well, not really. But the Applelinks iClock, which stands about 8 cm tall, looks just like the original, Bondi Blue iMac. Don?t expect Apple to take the company to court, as they did with several iMac-cloners; this one is a clock. Well, what did you expect for the price? A computer?


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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan