by Sandro Menzel -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Systems Engineer, The Computer Store
Apple recently released a package deal that should be popular with the connectivity crowd. It's now easy to purchase software from Apple that helps with file translation as well as connectivity to DOS computers, VGA monitors, and most any printer in existence.
PowerBook/DOS Companion: -- Apple has noticed a whole class of users with PowerBooks and Duos who need to transfer data to and from their DOS machines. To this audience, Apple is marketing the PowerBook/DOS Companion, a combination of four compatibility products: Macintosh PC Exchange, a special version of MacLink Plus/PC from DataViz, the MacVGA Video Adapter from James Engineering, and GDT Software's PowerPrint.
Macintosh PC Exchange we all know well. It is Apple's utility that allows us Mac users to mount MS-DOS disks on our desktops and facilitates all those wonderful file translations, some of which are built into our applications (such as Word). Macintosh PC Exchange also allows us to map MS-DOS extensions to our Macintosh applications.
This version of MacLink Plus/PC boasts more than 700 conversion combinations between MS-DOS and Windows to Macintosh. Translations can be done via cable connection, disk swapping, or modem. Specific cables for the PowerBook are included.
The MacVGA Video Adapter displays up to 256 colors on VGA and SVGA monitors when connected to a PowerBook 160/180, or MiniDocked Duo 210/230. Apple is quick to supply two lengthy lists, one of monitors that are known to work and the one those that definitely do not.
Ever try to print to what we in the Mac environment would call a non-standard printer? To address this, Apple includes PowerPrint from GDT Softworks. The literature claims PowerPrint prints text and graphics to any of more than a 1000 different printers, whether they be laser, ink-jet or dot-matrix. Rather than send us looking for cables, PowerPrint includes a serial-to-parallel cable.
[In our limited experience, PowerPrint worked wonderfully on an old Epson LX-80 and Hewlett-Packard DeskJet. It was amazing to see a screeching old LX-80 knock off decent-looking Macintosh output after five years of service. -Adam]
I live and work in a Mac-only environment. Occasionally, I need to work with foreign data formats. For this, Macintosh PC Exchange and the MacLink/Plus Translators have been useful. For Mac users in a primarily MS-DOS environment, I can easily see the need for all four utilities.