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Apple fixes iMac printer problems

Apple develops a fix for iMac owners unable to use an Epson printer based on the USB connection scheme.

Apple Computer has developed a fix for iMac owners unable to use an Epson printer based on a connection scheme that's new to the Mac platform.

The problem stems from Apple's adoption of the universal serial bus (USB) port to connect to peripherals. USB is an easy-to-use technology for connecting "peripheral" devices (such as printers) that's already begun to find widespread use on Windows-Intel based machines.

Apple first implemented USB with its hot-selling iMac, and eventually all of its Macintosh systems will incorporate it.

The initial solution to the problem--a combination of plugging and unplugging cables and flipping the system on and off--was an awkward fix. Ironically, both the iMac and USB are advertised as "plug and play."

The new fix, which is supposed to make the printer set-up easier and more reliable, is available for download now. Update 1.0 aims to eliminate some of the driver problems that have cropped up with the iMac's connection to Epson 600 printers, the only printer that is currently available with drivers for the iMac USB port.

There are now five different Epson printers that can be used with the USB interconnect cable and specially written driver software from Epson's Web site.

"Apple has made improvements to its USB software for iMac customers...It [also] improves the customer experience with many USB peripherals," Apple said in a letter to customers. Only customers who have USB peripherals other than the iMac's keyboard and mouse need to download the software, the company said.

USB ports proved troublesome not only with users who have Epson 600 printers, but also for Mac users who want to connect to their older, non-USB peripheral devices. To connect with non-USB peripherals the iMac requires a separate adapter.

The iMac, like any new product release, has had some teething problems. Last week the company fielded complaints that its 56-kbps modem was operating improperly, such that it would disconnect users or only connect at 33.6 kbps. Apple contends that the modem complaint is an Internet service provider-based problem and that users should make sure that their ISP is using V.90 compliant modems.

While Apple's USB port is problematic now, it could be a boon in the future as more USB-based peripheral devices become available for the Mac OS.