Storage

Pockey drives offer USB-powered portable storage

Pockey drives may be the coolest new storage product since Zip disks. They're extremely portable and easy to use, but expect to pay more per byte than you would with a conventional hard disk.

Imagine walking around the office with 20 GB of portable storage in your pocket and not having to wear a belt. Pockey Drives makes it possible.

Just a few weeks ago, Pockey Drives released the Pockey, a portable, lightweight USB hard drive that’s as small as a Palm V or a Pocket PC. No power cable or batteries are needed, as the Pockey receives both data and power from its USB connection. Best of all, the Pockey drive, shown in Figure A, is hot swappable.

Figure A
Pockey hard drives are smaller and weigh less than many palm devices.


It’s simple to install and use
Installation is a snap. Plug the supplied USB cable into a computer’s USB port, attach the other end to the Pockey drive, and flip the Pockey’s power switch. Windows 2000 senses the device and triggers the Found New Hardware Wizard. Win2K prompts you to install the drivers for the USB hard drive, which it labels POCKEY FLOTEC, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
Use the Found New Hardware Wizard in Windows 2000 to install the Pockey drive.


Installation takes 20 seconds or so to complete, and that’s it. Congratulations; your computer now has an additional drive with 20 GB of empty storage space. It’s easy to move, copy, and delete files on the Pockey. Data transfer is fast at up to 1.5 megabytes per second. The drive I received was formatted with the FAT32 file system.

The USB hard drive receives its own drive letter, as shown in Figure C. Pockey drives are administered just like another disk using My Computer, Explorer, or the Computer Management MMC snap-in console.

Figure C
Pockey drives are administered like any other share or drive in Windows.


Thinking there must be a catch, I copied several sample files to the Pockey from my machine, ejected the Pockey using Windows 2000 Control Panel’s Add/Remove Hardware applet, and turned the Pockey off. I walked down the hall to a colleague’s office and installed the Pockey on another system. As soon as the 20-second installation completed, a new drive appeared on the machine. My colleague only needed to drag a file or folder from the Pockey onto his desktop to transfer files. It’s that simple.

Purchase a Pockey, and here’s what you’ll receive:
  • ·        The Pockey drive
  • ·        Two USB cables
  • ·        A well-written instruction manual
  • ·        A CD containing installation drivers
  • ·        A slim, pouch-style carrying case

USB portability has its price
Pockey Drives warns that its portable hard disks might not work well with USB ports found on many Toshiba and NEC laptops. Apparently, the USB chipsets on those laptops may not play nice with the Pockey. The only other trouble you’ll run into is cost. These puppies aren’t cheap. There are two models from which to choose. One holds 10 GB and the other holds 20 GB. Expect to pay $249 for the 10 GB model and $329 for the 20 GB version.

At the time of this writing, though, the gray 20 GB Pockey (other available colors are black, blue, and orange) was on sale for $299. Considering that you can buy a decent 20 GB hard disk for $100 or so, there’s no doubt a premium is being placed on portability.

But the expense is worth it if you need to move large files quickly and easily. Pockey drives could also be used to make simple backups without much fuss. I can’t imagine an easier method of transferring files between two machines that aren’t networked or that don’t share a high-speed connection.

The only other worry is whether a Pockey drive will stand up to the regular bumps and drops that can be expected with palm-held devices. Pockeys are backed by a one-year warranty, but dropped devices aren’t covered. Thus, be sure to use the protective case if you pick one up.
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