Adaptec DuoConnect

  • Editors' rating
    7.8 Very good


  • Single card supporting USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 standards
  • plenty of ports.


  • Expensive if you don’
  • t need both interface types.

If you want to add external storage to your computer, or start using digital video, the DuoConnect from Adaptec could be the high-speed link between your system and the outside world.

This PCI adapter has both USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 ports, providing PC and Mac users with high-speed connections to all sorts of peripherals. The DuoConnect supports Windows 98SE or later, and Macintosh G4s with Mac OS 9.0.4 or later. It also supports beige G3s, but not the blue-and-white ones.

There are five external ports -- three USB and two IEEE 1394 -- plus an internal port for each connectivity standard. You get a single 6-pin to 4-pin IEEE 1394 cable, which should allow you to connect up most Mini-DV camcorders. For USB devices and IEEE 1394 devices with 6-pin sockets, you'll need to buy extra cables if they don't come with their own.

If you want to attach bus-powered devices to the adapter's IEEE 1394 (FireWire) ports, you need to connect a floppy power plug to the card. Newer Macs don't have these, or you may not have one of these spare inside your PC, in which case you'll need to buy a power extender cable for the job. Even if you don't connect the external power supply, you can still use self-powered IEEE 1394 devices and all USB devices. With the added power connection, the card is capable of supplying 18W of power from its IEEE 1394 ports.

The DuoConnect comes with Windows software consisting of a video editing package, MGI's VideoWave, and a DVD authoring package, MyDVD. Mac users unfortunately get nothing more than the drivers -- you're advised to download Apple's iMovie 2 software, if you don't already have it, to use with the adapter. The Windows software will allow you to capture video from a Mini-DV camcorder, edit it into a movie and write it out to removable media -- if you have a DVD-R drive this is supported, but for many people this will be a Video CD format CD-R.

If you're thinking of adding either IEEE 1394 or USB 2.0 to your machine, you can get cheaper cards with just the single interface. However, if you think you're likely to need both at some point, this card should work out cheaper and only takes up a single PCI slot.