Mac Musings

Thinking Different About USB Ports

Dan Knight - 2002.02.04 - Tip Jar

After I published the specs for the new "Quicksilver 2002" Power Mac G4s, several readers called me for claiming these models had 4 USB ports - a figure I'd quickly copied from Apple's site.

They're right, and the same goes for the Flat Panel iMac, which Apple claims has 5 USB ports. If you read Apple's tech specs carefully, you'll see that they're adding the two USB ports on the keyboard to the 2 or 3 on the computer.

Sorry, Apple, but that just doesn't cut it. The G4s have the same number of USB ports as the old ones, and the iMac has only one more than previous models.

First, it's not right to count USB ports in a peripheral as ports in the computer. If it were, Apple could bundle a couple 7-port USB hubs with the Power Mac and claim the computer had 18 ports - two on the box, two on the keyboard, and two on each hub. It's ridiculous to claim the new iMac has 5 USB ports when two of them aren't part of the computer itself.

Second, if you are going to count this way, be realistic and recognize that when the keyboard or any hub is plugged into a USB port, that port is no longer available and shouldn't be counted. If you're going to strain your credibility by adding the two USB ports on the keyboard, at least subtract the port the keyboard is plugged into.

At least Apple provides the full information (in small print) for those willing to look for it, but counting keyboard ports as part of the computer's total is thinking a bit too different for me.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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