Storage

Add CompactFlash to your Visor

Out of memory in your Visor? You may not need an expensive expander. InnoPocket's CompactFlash Adapter may be your solution.


Since acquiring my Handspring Visor, I’ve become addicted to this little external brain. The palm device stores considerable text and graphics. However, since I started using it to write drafts of articles and store reference material, I’ve reached its storage limit of 8 MB.

I had the option to double its storage by buying a memory expander for about $70. I could also have chosen an additional 16 MB of memory, but that would have set me back $120. Ouch.

Normal flash media isn’t that expensive, and I already had several compact flash cards for my digital camera. I didn’t want to buy more.

Of course, CompactFlash (CF) is an ATA-based format that can readily be used in a PCMCIA/PC card slot using a simple adapter. The Visor’s Springboard slot is a lightly modified PC card slot to begin with, so it didn’t seem like much was needed to bridge the gap. There had to be a way I could use my existing memory in my Visor.

Put InnoPocket in your palm
Enter the InnoPocket CompactFlash Adapter. This isn’t a Springboard module per se, because it requires driver software, which is a no-no for the Springboard standard.

I don’t consider this a big penalty, though. If you do, you could get the InnoPocket FlashPlus adapter instead. The FlashPlus adapter is a Springboard module that boasts its own built-in drivers.

Kopsis supplies the driver software for the InnoPocket CompactFlash Adapter. Named FAFileMover, it’s an easy-to-use piece of software that, in addition to being a file manager, includes tools to reformat and test CF cards. Testing cards is important, as many early CF cards didn’t adhere to industry standards. They work properly in the products they were bundled with but may not work in all products. Incidentally, it’s mainly an issue for CF cards that are 8 MB or smaller.

My experience with the CF adapter has been pleasant. My two-year-old 8-MB and 16-MB CF cards worked instantly. Even if they hadn’t, it wouldn’t have been a big headache. Name brand 32-MB CF cards can be found for about $40 after shipping, which is far cheaper than a dedicated Springboard memory expansion.

Managing files is as simple as selecting them from a list. Also, I don’t have to reformat the CF cards to use them, so I can easily swap them in and out of my laptop and camera at will.

The adapter’s construction is reassuring. Small lands and grooves are present to keep the CF card aligned and prevent bent pins. The plastic is slightly flexible, which may help increase the adapter’s lifespan if you’re a little butter fingered.

The CF card fits entirely within the module. There’s also a cutout at the back of the module to enable you to pull a card out with your thumb.

I did find one problem with the CF adapter, but it may have been limited to my device. Every time you insert a CF card, the Visor powers up. No big deal, right? Well, my CF card seemed to have a knack for working itself out of the adapter, and then back in, causing the Handspring to power cycle more often than I wished. I ended up going through noticeably more batteries when the CF adapter was installed.

The final word
Overall, I’ve been pleased with the performance of my CF adapter. The software is quite functional, and updates have been released to keep it current. I picked up backup software on sale for $10, and it has worked flawlessly with the CF cards, further expanding the adapter’s utility. In other words, I like it.

The CompactFlash Adapter runs $39.90, while the FlashPlus adapter sells for $49.90. The good news is that shipping and handling is free for U.S. customers.

Editor's Picks