iMate, by Griffin Technologies
Posted: 31-Jul-2004

5 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Griffin Technologies Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Harvey Chao Class: HARDWARE

Overview
Griffin Technology's iMate is a small hardware device that provides Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) access to machines (Windows AND Mac) having USB ports and lacking built-in ADB. It is a small plastic "box" about 2" x 1" x 0.5" with a female ADB port at one end, and a short (17") cord ending in a USB connector at the other end. It supports a long list of ADB devices from keyboards, joysticks, trackballs and mice to drawing tablets, touchscreens, hardware protection dongles, barcode scanners, displays and display calibrators, and other miscellaneous ADB devices. It is a simple and inexpensive path for those having a sizable investment and/or interest in ADB devices they wish to continue to use in a USB environment. It's also useful to those having software with ADB plug-in "copy protection" devices necessary to "unlock" certain software applications.

Requirements
The iMate is compatible with any Mac USB port and operating systems from 9.1 through OS X, as well as Windows. Specifically, the manufacturer specifies: "Mac: Mac OS 9.1 or greater, or OS X, USB port PC: Windows 98, Me, 2000 or XP, USB port" . More explicit details about iMac use, USB PCI ports, and Windows PC compatibility are available at
Griffin's web site.

Setup
I purchased a Griffin Technology's iMate locally from Fry's for $36 plus tax (Griffin web site price is $39). This device converts a USB port to a single ADB port and allows you to use older ADB devices. In some cases, you may need downloadable drivers to support your machine. The web site has a fairly comprehensive and long list of ADB devices supported. The device comes in a simple blister pack. Other than some simple identification/advertising on the piece of cardboard in the clear package, there appeared to be no instructions and no software was physically included. A visit to
Griffin's web site provided ample descriptions, downloadable drivers, etc..

Physical installation was a "non-event" - plug the iMate into an available USB port, and then plug in your ADB device. Software drivers were similarly as easy - download from the Griffin Technology web site, unstuff, and install.

In Use
My objective was to be able to use an older Apple Extended Keyboard II with my G4 because I absolutely hate the "feel" of the newer USB keyboards that came with G3 and G4 generation machines (they lack the tactile "feedback" of the older keyboard). While there is the
Matias Tactile Pro keyboard, I was looking for a less expensive option by way of a USB to ADB converter.

This is my second try to bridge the USB/ADB interface. The previous try (cannot remember the device name) was advertised as supporting OS 7 thru OS 9  "and up", but neglected to specify that it DID NOT include OS X. The iMac is OS 10.3.4 compatible, as well as supporting OS 9 (if you're running an older OS, you probably have a built-in ADB port).

The keyboard works as expected, including being able to use the "power on" button in the upper right hand corner. F12 works to open and close the internal CD drawer. "Caps lock" illuminates and functions as expected. No identified problems or conflicts occurred with either the hardware or the software.

Summary
The Griffin iMate is a simple USB to ADB device that allows you to use ADB hardware with the USB ports on your newer generation Mac. The iMate works as advertised - it provides a "daisy chainable" ADB port via a USB port. The iMate is a much less expensive option to support my objective of using my old ADB tactile keyboard, assuming, of course, you already have such a keyboard lying around.   It is a "no brainer" to install both the hardware device and the drivers, and has evidenced no hardware, software, or system conflicts to date. The iMate is functional, cost effective, and allows retention and continued use of a wide variety of ADB interface devices. This devices is especially useful for long time Mac users and those "bottom feeders" amongst us who retain, find, and continue to use or recycle older devices with proven functionality. The iMate is worth a try if you have an ADB device that you really want to keep on using in a USB world. I highly recommend it.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Simple
  • Works as advertised
  • Allows continued use of ADB devices in a USB world

Cons

  • None identified


Overall Rating

5 out of 5 Mice