CD Technology Porta-Drive. (portable CD-ROM drive) (evaluation)
by Eddie Huffman
CD Technology's Porta-Drive does its job well. Whether you're playing a game with your children, researching a report, or learning about the world around you, this CD-ROM drive takes only a reasonable amount of time and effort to accomplish what you've asked it to do.
I found it to be slightly slower than my hard drive, an adequate speed considering the wealth of sounds (on computer DCs - it doesn't play music disc), sights, and data it allowed me to access. To increase the drive's speed, CD Technology uses a 64K memory buffer.
The Porta-Drive itself is remarkably compact, about the size of a hardcover novel, though heavier at 3.8 pounds. Its two controls - an eject button and a volume slide for the headphone jack-make the Porta-Drive by itself much easier to use than an audio CD player. CDs enter and exit the machine in an accompanying CD caddy.
Installing the Porta-Drive takes little technical knowledge or mechanical skill. After removing your PC's cover, you simply plug the card into an expansion slot and then hook up the cable to the card's port. A separate power box simply plugs into the back of the device. The software driver provided with the Porta-Drive installs itself on a hard drive, automatically altering your AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files so the machine is ready to go every time you boot up. The driver allows you to lock and unlock the player and eject the CD caddy using only keyboard controls.
If you run into trouble, the user manual for the Porta-Drive provides adequate information. It's well organized and generally clear, though it lacks both an index and a section of troubleshooting tips. The machine comes with a two-year warranty. Technical support is available either through a 24-hour bulletin board service or by calling the company directly, though neither call is toll-free. As simple to install and operate as the machine is, though, most people will probably have little trouble.
Despite the cost of CD-ROM drives and their inability to accept data from your computer, their storage potential will obviously appeal to a great number of computer enthusiasts. If you're in the market for one of these mass-storage marvels, the Porta-Drive has a lot to offer in a little package.