Pocketfile 85. (credit-card sized hard drive) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Ralph Roberts
A hard drive the size of a credit card? Yes, the Integral Peripherals PocketFile 85 removable hard disk slips easily from your portable or desktop computer into your shirt pocket. Changing drives can be done on the fly: Simply plug the drive into your computer's PCMCIA card slot, and access your data or programs. Unplug the current drive and slide in a new one, and it's ready for immediate use without your having to reboot your computer.
I tested the PocketFile 85 (85MB) with a Toshiba 4500 notebook computer. Integral is also shipping the PocketFile 42 (42MB, $495) and the PocketFile 105 (105MB, $750).
You may need to install a software driver so that your computer will recognize the PocketFile plugged into its PCMCIA slot. CardSoft driver software is provided with the PocketFile 85, but check first in your computer system's reference manual--you might already have the necessary drivers in place. If so, there should be a listing for Integral Peripherals in your manual.
The CardSoft software installed easily in my test. As with standard hard drivers, initial partitioning and formatting is required. The included MFDisk utility partitions the PocketFile, and the standard DOS Format command is used to format it
The PocketFile 85 is simple and just to get up and going. Just take it out of your pocket and plug it in while your computer is running. A couple of quick beeps tell you the drive is available. Use it as you would any other drive on the system. The drive was quite speedy in my testing, meeting its rated 18-ms average access-time.
Although you won't want to toss it on the pavement, you'll ve relieved to know that the PocketFile 85 can take over 100 g's of operating shock.
There are many practical uses for the PocketFile. If you're an accountant, for example, you might have separate PocketFiles for each of your major clients. A company might buy just one portable computer for field use and provide each person taking it out with a PocketFile for personal data. And it's an easy way to add more storage to a laptop with a jam-packed hard drive.