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Review: Stealth Serial Port and ThreePort

By: Brent Hecht


System Requirements: Power Macintosh G4 PCI or Blue and White G3 for PCI version, Power Macintosh G4 AGP for AGP version, iMac Rev. A through Rev. D for iMac version
Retail Price: $49.95 for Stealth Serial Port, $19.95 for ThreePort
Availability: Out Now  

The new G4s and the Blue and White G3s are quite enticing. They offer incredible speeds, amazing new technologies, and sleek new looks at a very affordable price. However, what they don't offer, SCSI, serial ports and a floppy drive, is sure to cause any long-term Mac user to do a double-take. The bottom line is that pretty much all older Mac peripherals will not work with Apple's new machines. Fortunately, several companies have come to the rescue with serial port USB adapters, SCSI PCI cards, and the like. However, these solutions are legendary for causing conflicts, compatibility problems and failures. Enter's Stealth Serial Port. boasts that this single serial port adapter offers full compatibility with any exisiting serial device, period. But does it live up to's lofty claims?

The Stealth Serial Port uses the internal modem slot on the G3 and G4 motherboards to create a serial connection. While installation sounds quite daunting at first, it proved to be extremely easy on my new G4 PCI Power Mac. Folowing the well-illustrated manual, I removed two screws, took out the internal modem, connected the Stealth to the modem slot, and put everything back together. Within ten minutes, I had my Mac and its Stealth Serial Port up and running.

Next came the ultimate test: compatibility. Crossing my fingers, I installed the serial port drivers for an Epson 600 printer and a Palm IIIx. The Epson 600 worked without a hitch, the only oddity was choosing the "Printer/Modem Port" (the Stealth only offers one port) rather than the standard "Printer Port". The Palm IIIx worked equally well. The Stealth's real advantage compatibility-wise, however, does not come from its support of standard Mac serial peripherals, but rather from its support of LocalTalk and MIDI, two serial applications that other adapters have been unable to handle. Using the Stealth, I was able to easily hook up my brand new Power Mac to a seven year-old PowerBook 145 running Mac OS 7.6.1 via a simple LocalTalk hookup. Unfortunately, I was unable to test MIDI suport... But judging from the Stealth's success so far, I imagine that MIDI will work flawlessly.

While the Stealth Serial Port, in general, is an excellent product, it suffers from two rather large drawbcks. The first is that in order to install it, you must remove internal modem. If you don't own an external serial or USB modem, this can be quite a problem. Second, since the Stealth only offers one serial port, users with more than one peripheral will find themselves having to choose between them. Fortunately, GeeThree offers a manual three-port serial switcher, aptly named "ThreePort", as an option to the Stealth. While it got somewhat annoying switching from port to port using the ThreePort's manual switch, it certainly was much better than shutting down, unplugging the current device, plugging in the new one, and booting up again.

If you own a Power Macintosh G3 or G4 and don't need (or don't have) an internal modem, you should buy the Stealth Serial Port. Even if you don't own a single serial peripheral, you never know when you'll need to network with an old Mac that only supports LocalTalk. If you need your internal modem and also need serial connectivity, you'll have to use one of the USB serial adapters, none of which support LocalTalk or offer compatibility that even approaches the Stealth's.

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October 13, 2015

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