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Pocketec Pockey DataStor USB 2.0 30GB: this device packs a lot of storage into a small, ultra-portable space.

They say you can never be too rich, or too thin. They never mentioned "or have too much hard drive space." I'm guessing I'll never be rich or thin, but I do have enough hard drive space, and it's external, portable, hot-pluggable, bus-powered, thin, and light.

I've been using the Pocketec Pockey DataStor USB 2.0 30GB hard drive for several months now, and can't imagine traveling without it. This is by far the smallest and lightest external hard drive I've run across. Even sweeter, it doesn't require a power supply (it pulls its power from its USB cable connection). You can get these babies in sizes ranging from 20GB to 60GB, providing a huge amount of offline storage. They aren't as cheap as an internal IDE drive, but the prices seem reasonable for what you get: a standard 2.5" IDE hard drive, with an aluminum case, soft case, and the required (and easily replaceable) USB cable.

Like most USB 2.0 devices, the Pockey drives provide blazing speed (ostensibly 480Mbps) when connected to a USB 2.0 port, but a much pokier 12Mbps when connected to a legacy USB 1.1 port. However, few laptop devices currently provide USB 2.0 ports, so you'll probably have to purchase an inexpensive USB 2.0 PC Card device to take advantage of the significant speed increase you get with USB 2.0. (Laptops are trickling in with USB 2.0 support; you'll see much broader support this year.)

Power woes

Although the Pockey drive receives sufficient power from a USB 1.1 port to run at the slower speed, it simply doesn't get enough power from PC Card-based USB 2.0 ports. Try all you like, but that PC Card slot just doesn't supply enough juice. It coughs and sputters like your manual starting lawn mower (without the noise and smoke), hut never quite spins up. To solve the problem, Pocketec ships a PS/2 and USB-based power cable that provides a pass-through PS/2 connector (so you can still plug in a PS/2-based mouse), pulling power from that port. If that port doesn't supply enough power, the cable also includes a USB connector, so you can try stealing some power from another USB port on your computer. It isn't a perfect solution, but it works; and, until more laptop computers supply USB 2.0 ports, it's the best solution. (If you're near an electrical outlet, you can also supply power directly to most USB 2.0 PC Card devices. The one I'm using, from IOGear, has a standardized 5V power supply that works with several other devices I use.)

Of course, like any powered device, the Pockey will suck the life out of your laptop's battery. I used mine to listen to some favorite tunes during a recent flight, and the battery definitely drained faster. I haven't done any scientific tests, but the drive, running constantly as it does when providing a source of MP3 files, takes a measurable amount of power.

UpShot

1 use the 30GB Pockey drive constantly, for two main purposes. I've put aside 15GB for MP3 format copies of my large CD collection, so I can listen to music on the road. The other 15GB contain copies of the installation CDs for all the software I use, in case I have to rebuild my laptop while traveling. I'm also extremely paranoid about losing work, so I regularly copy projects I'm working on to the Pockey drive while I'm on the road. That way, should my laptop ever "walk," or its hard drive fail, I have a backup with me. The drive easily fits into a shirt pocket or small bag, so I'm protected. I don't travel without my Pockey--it's saved me too many times.

ADVISOR EVAL

BUSINESS BENEFITS

Who couldn't make use of 20-60GB of extra storage space? This external hard drive is ultra-portable and a good value.

(+) A ton of storage in a small package

(+) No need for a separate power supply

(+) Extremely zippy when plugged into a USB 2.0 port

(+) Requires no software drivers on Windows XP/2000/ME

(-) Using a PC Card-based USB 2.0 port makes it tricky to get enough power to the drive

(-) Data transfer is quite slow using the USB 1.1 port you'll find on most current laptops

(-) Requires provided software drivers for Windows 98/95

Pocketec

http://www.pocketec.net

Pocketec Pockey DataStor USB 2.0 30GB

SIZE: 0.5" height; 5" length; 3" width; 5.5 ounces

STORAGE: 30GB

BATTERY LIFE: N/A

BATTERIES: N/A

PORTS: USB 2.0 or USB 1.1

INCLUDES: Soft case & USB 2.0 cable

VERSIONS

Pocketec Pockey DataStor USB 2.0 20GB US$199.95

Pocketec Pockey DataStor USB 2.0 30GB US$249.95

Pocketec Pockey DataStor USB 2.0 40GB US$299.95

Pocketec Pockey DataStor USB 2.0 60GB U55399.95

Technical Editor Ken Getz is a programmer, technical writer, educator, and senior consultant with MCW Technologies. He develops custom applications and tools using ASP.NET, Visual Studio .NET, and Microsoft Office, and spends much of his free time researching and testing mobile hardware. He's been a Microsoft MVP award winner since the program began. Ken teaches ASP.NET, C#, and VB.NET for Application Developers Training Company, and is a frequent speaker at Microsoft events, Advisor DevCon, and other technical conferences. He's co-author of ASP.NET Jumpstart with contributing editor Paul D. Sheriff (SAMS), Access 2002 Developer's Handbook series, and VBA Developer's Handbook (Sybex). http://www.developershand book.com, keng@mcwtech.com.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Portable Hard Drive
Author:Getz, Ken
Publication:Mobile Business Advisor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2003
Words:930
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