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Former Mac clone maker branches out

Umax comes back with new consumer electronics, including drawing tablets, mini hard drives, flash drives and MP3 players.

Umax, a company best known for its scanners, has launched its first major consumer electronics extension since it stopped making Apple Computer Macintosh clones in 1998.

The privately owned Dallas-based company said it is now selling a full lineup of consumer electronics products includes drawing tablets, mini hard drives, flash drives and MP3 players.

TB401 USB Drawing Tablet (4x3.5 in.) w/cordless Pen
Credit: Umax
Umax's new TB401 USB
drawing tablet

In 1997, Umax was one of a handful of companies in the then-promising Mac clone market. Interim Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, however, killed off the Mac clone licensing program, which forced licensees to sell off their inventory at reduced prices and scuttle their PC operations. Umax lost approximately $40 million in its fiscal 1998, the company reported at the time.

Back in 1999, the company tried to relaunch itself as an Internet company and cell phone maker.

Umax said it has been successful with consumer electronics in Europe and Asia, especially with digital still and video cameras. But now, Umax said it is targeting the North American markets with its "digital lifestyle" products.

The company has launched two drawing tablets under its ProVista brand. The TB801 is an 8 inch by 6 inch tablet and retails for $99.99. The TB401 is a 4 inch by 3.5 inch tablet and retails for $39.99. Both have a wireless pen and programmable buttons (12 and 8 respectively).

In the mobile hard-drive category, Umax is now selling its Pollux 300 in a 4GB and a 2.2GB version that retails for $149.99 and $109.99 respectively. The device is 9mm thick and uses USB 2.0 for high speed data transfer.

Umax is also offering a new APUS flash memory-based storage drive in 1GB, 512MB, 256MB and 128 MB sizes ranging in prices from $79.99 to $19.99. The latest APUS 210 also includes password protection.

The company is also offering two MP3 players: the Vega 203 made by Maxium Technologies and the Vega 107 made by Novax Technologies. Both have voice recorders and FM tuners with presets. Prices vary based on storage capacity. There is only a $30 difference between the most expensive Vega 203 ($79.99) and the smallest capacity Vega 107 ($49.99).