In This Chapter
Comparing USB 1.x with USB 2.0
Using FireWire for high-end fun
Putting eSATA to work
Extending your system with a hub
Adding a port card
In the days of the early IBM PCs, practically every device that you added was internal (in the computer case). Because so few peripherals existed that you could add to your system, this situation really wasn't a problem. Back in the day, the parallel port took care of the printer (if you could afford one), and as the modem grew in importance, it took up residence with the serial port.
Today, however, PC cases have shrunk. When it comes to size, I can't tell the difference between many new desktops and my kid's PlayStation. And, less internal room means more need for external stuff. Also, because of the huge increase in the number of portable devices you can add to your computer, those toys are naturally designed to be external, such as digital cameras, MP3 players, and the like. The days of the PC as a monolith are over.
So what's a poor CPU to do? Enter the star ports of the digital age: Universal Serial Bus (USB) and FireWire, along with the up-and-coming eSATA. Talk about sassy: They're fast, they offer plug-and-play convenience, and they don't hassle you with arcane errors or strange settings. Plus, you can use them to connect practically everything but the kitchen sink to your computer simultaneously.
In this chapter, I share the joy as we party together with these three ports.