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SRG Sites > NewTechReview > Reviews > PocketDisk USB Flash Drive

PocketDisk USB Flash Drive

Manufacturer: IOPlus, Inc.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided NewTechReview with a NFR unit of this product for review.
Reviewed by Scott R. Garrigus
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Transferring files from one PC to another can be accomplished using a variety of mediums. These include floppy disk, super floppy disc, zip disk, jazz drive, CD-R, DVD-R, and more. But now with the price of computer memory (RAM) becoming so low, manufacturers have begun using compact computer chips for the purpose of storing and transferring files. These chips usually come in the form of a very small and simple to use device that provides better speed, reliability, convenience, and capacity (with the exception of DVD) than any of the other mediums mentioned. One such device is called the PocketDisk from IOPlus, Inc.

As it states on the back of the box: ďPocketDisk is a high-speed, compact and portable mass storage disk. As a USB-based flash memory disk, PocketDisk allows PC and Mac users to share data in sizes larger than 1.44 MB (the size of a floppy disk) between any notebook and desktop system with a functional USB port. No more carrying around work in a laptop computer, no more floppy disks required, and no need to burn CDs. The PocketDisk is small enough to fit into any pocket and powerful enough to store text, presentations, spreadsheets and large multimedia files.Ē When they say sizes larger than 1.44 MB, they mean that the PocketDisk comes in increments similar to computer memory chips: 16MB, 32MB, 64MB, 128MB, 256MB, and 512MB. The larger the capacity, the higher the cost, which is pretty reasonable (until you get to the 512MB version - $329.95 is bit too expensive for my wallet). I tested out the 64MB version.

As per the instructions, under Windows XP all I had to do was plug the PocketDisk into one of my available USB ports. I did run into a bit of a space problem where the PocketDisk couldnít quite fit into one of my ports because I had another cable plugged into a port right next to it. Luckily, IOPlus remedies this problem by including a USB connection cable for the PocketDisk in the package, just in case. After I plugged in the PocketDisk, Windows XP automatically detected it, recognized it as a removable drive, and displayed its contents in an Explorer window. It was one of the easiest installations Iíve ever gone through on a PC. To add files to the PocketDisk, I either copy and pasted them or simply dragged them into the PocketDisk window. To delete files from the PocketDisk, I just selected the files, right-clicked and chose Delete. Itís just like working with any other drive on your system with a couple of exceptions. If you ever want to format the drive, you need to use the Mformat utility on the CD-ROM included in the package. This ensures that the PocketDisk is formatted in such a way as to be compatible with all the supported Windows versions. You can also add password protection to the PocketDisk to keep prying eyes off of your sensitive files.

To enable password protection for the first time, you need to format the PocketDisk, which means youíll lose any data currently on the Disk. This is a bit of an inconvenience, but not a big deal since you can temporarily copy the files to your PC, format and enable protection on the PocketDisk, and then copy of the files back. Once protected the files on the PocketDisk canít be accessed without knowing the password, which can be up to 20 characters long including letters, numbers, underscores, and spaces. When you plug in the PocketDisk, youíll see a file called PASSID.EXE. You need to double-click this to run the file, enter your password, and this will give you access to the files on the Disk. Thatís all there is to it. From here you can also change your password or disable password protection.

Unfortunately, there are a few limitations to the PocketDisk, but these limitations are actually the fault of Windows and not the PocketDisk itself. These limitations include not having automatic installation under Windows 98. So if you plan on using the PocketDisk with Windows 98, you will first have to manually install the drivers from the included CD-ROM. Under Windows ME, 2000, or XP this problem doesnít occur. In addition, the PocketDisk provides a boot feature where it can be used as a boot disk for things like keeping emergency files for when your PC crashes, etc. But this feature only works under Windows 98/ME, not under 2000/XP. And your PC must support booting from an external USB device. Many people probably wonít have access to this feature but itís nice to know it exists just in case.

I really enjoyed working with the PocketDisk. Even though it only supports USB 1.0/1.1 (USB 2.0 and FireWire versions are in the works), it still transferred files quite quickly. A 32MB file transferred in approximately 56 seconds. Not only that, but I was able to play MP3 files directly off of the PocketDisk. Plus, I found that I could play a Windows Media video file (about 8MB in size) directly off of the PocketDisk as well, so performance is definitely not an issue. Physically, the PocketDisk is only about the size of small pocketknife that would fit on your key chain making it very easy to carry around. As a matter of fact, IOPlus includes both a key chain attachment and neck strap in the package. I would have to say that as long as you are using Windows ME/2000/XP, this is the easiest way of carrying around your temporary data files. And these days, I find myself keeping my PocketDisk attached to my key chain just in case Iím at home, at the office, or at a friendís house and need the ability to quickly save or transfer files. No matter if you utilize your PC for entertainment or business, I know youíll find a use for the PocketDisk because I have.
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