Sweet Multiport, by GeeThree
Posted: 6-Aug-2005

5 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: GeeThree Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

Overview
Is your desktop covered with wires and peripherals? Are you running out of USB and firewire ports? Are you simply looking for a better way to organize your input devices? Tired of using up a USB port to read your CompactFlash cards? If you own a G3 or G4 tower, the Gee Three Sweet Multiport will help you organize your peripheral inputs, while providing some additional easy-to-access ports to your Mac system. With the Sweet Multiport installed, you can additional USB and firewire ports both in front and in the back of your tower, plus a memory card reader built in!

Features

  • 2 FireWire ports
  • 1 USB port
  • 5-in-1 memory card reader
    • CompactFlash
    • IBM Microdrive
    • Memory Stick
    • Secure Digital
    • MultiMediaCard
  • Additional ports on PCI card
    • 2 FireWire ports
    • 2 USB ports

NOTE: QuickSilver supports only CompactFlash and Microdrive card media


Requirements

  • OS X, 10.1 or later, OS 9.1 or later
  • Empty PCI slot
  • G4 "Mirror Drive Door" system
    • empty 5.25" front drive bay
  • G4 "QuickSilver" system
    • empty 3.5" front drive bay
  • G4 "PCI" or "AGP" system
    • empty 3.5" front drive bay
  • G3 "Blue & White" system
    • empty 3.5" front drive bay

Includes

  • Sweet Multiport front panel card
  • Sweet Multiport PCI card
  • Sweet Multiport inter-connect cable
  • Mounting bracket and screws
  • Front faceplate
  • FireWire and USB cables

Price

$29.95


Installation
The Sweet Multiport comes with a 6-page installation guide. One page states the requirements and displays pictures of the contents. The 2nd page provides a 4-step installation guide for installing the front panel card into it's carrier. This is the card that gives your Mac additional ports in the front: (2) firewire, (1) USB, and (1) card reader. Depending upon your Mac model, you will install it in a 5.25" carrier or a 3.5" carrier. The next 3 pages provide detailed instructions on how to install the front panel carrier into your specific model Mac. There is one page for the G4 Mirror Drive Door, one page for the G4 Quicksilver, and one page for the G4 AGP/Digital Audio. The final page is a list of 6 steps for installing the PCI card.

I followed the instructions for installing the Sweet Multiport into a G4 Quicksilver, and it was a piece of cake. The instructions provided all the information I needed to perform the installation, so I didn't have to go searching Apple's technical pages for diagrams of my G4. After installing the front panel into its carrier, it was just snapping out the front panel faceplate, a few screws to remove the lower drive bracket, attaching the carrier to the bracket, and re-installing the bracket. Then it was just one screw to install the PCI card, connect the internal cable, then connect the USB and firewire patch cables from your built-in ports to the ports on the PCI card. Note that your PCI card is not a native USB/Firewire card. The USB and Firewire ports are only activated once they are connected to your built-in ports using the supplied patch cables.

The one thing that concerned me at first after installation, is that the Sweet Multiport PCI card does not register with the OS. Under the System Profiler, it still shows the slot that it is installed in as having nothing in it. This concerned me at first, but after weeks of stable and reliable access to the Sweet ports, I am no longer worried.

In Use
Although the Sweet Multiport product page lists having 2 additional USB ports and 2 additional firewire ports on the PCI card, there are actually 3 of each. However, one of each must be patched into your built-in ports. That also means that one each of your built-in ports are used. The actual net gain in ports for the back of your tower is one USB port and one firewire port. The back of your G4, however, is not what the Sweet Multiport is all about. Most tower owners don't visit the back of their tower very often, usually because it is inconvenient. I keep my tower on the floor, so even without a cabinet, it's a pain to get to. If you keep your tower in a cabinet, you probably don't even remember what the back looks like.

The real function and the beauty of the Sweet Multiport are the ports added to the front of your tower. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then take a look at the picture below of my Sweet-enhanced G4 Quicksilver.


Sweet Multiport installed in G4 Quicksilver

As shown above, the Sweet Multiport adds a stylish replacement for the faceplate, and sports a USB port on the left, then a card reader, and two firewire ports on the right. Having ports on the front of a tower is a major enhancement to the system. My desktop is always messy (I would have provided a picture, but I'm too embarassed), so trying to find my peripherals, let alone a port to plug them into, is always a frustration for me. I have a USB hub, and the items plugged into it are pretty much stationery, always on. There is the occasional need to plug in a different USB peripheral, such as a card reader (well, before the multiport gave me a built-in one), microphone, or USB thumb drive. Now I don't have to unbury my hub and swap out a cable to use the device. For instance, with a thumb drive, I just quickly and easily plug it into the front of the G4 and receive instant and painless gratification.

I also have several firewire devices hooked up to my G4, utilizing both built-in firewire ports. One port runs my external hard drive chain, and the other connects my firewire scanner. My iSight then uses the firewire port on the last hard drive of my firewire chain. On a regular basis, I like to hook up my iPod to sync it to iTunes. Currently I must unplug the iSight to plug in the iPod (again requiring me to clean up the mess on my desktop somewhat). With the multiport, I just plug it directly into one of the two available firewire ports. It's so simple, you wonder why Apple did not design the tower like this! I also need a free firewire port for the occasional hookup of my Sony digital video camera to download video, and the multiport again jumps to my rescue. I don't have to worry about the mess on my desktop, or where to "balance" the camera while I transfer video to my Mac. It sits on the floor next to the tower. This is a major convenience for me.

Last but not least, the multipart card reader alleviates my need to have an external USB card reader. My USB card reader is easily buried under my desktop mess, making it a chore everytime I want to download pictures from my camera. Plus, you have to hold the card reader in your hand to steady it as you insert the card. With a built-in card reader, the reader is stabilized, and free of entangled messes. You simply just plug the card into the reader just like an old floppy drive. This is the icing on the cake! It is what puts the "Sweet" in Sweet Multiport.

It should be noted that G4 Quicksilver owners, such as myself, only get the Microdrive and CompactFlash support on the reader due to the space limitations on the drive bay. Fortunately, for myself, I only use CompactFlash, so I'm set.

Summary

The Three Gee Sweet Multiport is an amazing example of technological simplicity; that is, it uses technology to make my life much simpler. After following the relatively simple installation instructions, I ended up with a nicely arranged and easy to access set of ports in the front of my G4 tower that include USB, firewire and a card reader. It is much easier to access these front ports than it is to get behind the tower, or trying to fuss with the mess on my desktop finding available ports on my USB hub or firewire hard drive chain. It makes hooking up occasional devices, such as USB thumb drives, iPods and digital video cameras so much more convenient. The built-in card reader allows me to insert CompactFlash cards without having to look for my external USB card reader, plus the reader is stabilized so insertion is much easier. The card reader supports
CompactFlash, IBM Microdrive, Memory Stick, Secure Digital, and MultiMediaCard on most G4 towers, but if you have a G4 Quicksilver, the smaller drive bay restricts the reader to supporting only CompactFlash and Microdrive (I only use CompactFlash). Put quite simply, the Sweet Multiport is an amazing and affordable gem that has extended the functionality of my G4 to a noticeable degree, and is one of the smartest additions I have ever added to my G4 Quicksilver. If you own a G4 tower, this is a must have.

Pros

  • Easy access USB, firewire and card reader ports
  • Built-in card reader means stabilized card insertion
  • Eliminates the need to clean up messy desktops everytime I hook up devices
  • Easy to follow installation instructions
  • Incredibly affordable

Cons

  • Would be nice if PCI card provided USB and firewire ports without the need for the patch cables
  • PCI card does not register under System Profiler
  • Easier port locations means that I may lose some incentive for cleaning my desktop *grin*


Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 Mice