Physical Design

By Nick Stam  |  Posted 2002-11-06 Print this article Print

Below are pictures of the external PC Card-attached and USB versions of the ABSplus. CMS also provides internal ABSplus drives that work in secondary drive bays of various IBM, Compaq, and Dell notebooks, but we chose to test the more flexible external versions. The external ABSplus devices appear simple, and weigh just 7 ounces, and measure 5" long x 3"wide x 1.125" high. The PC Card cable is built-in to the PC Card unit, and the USB version includes a USB cable. In either case, a 2.5" hard drive is mounted within the enclosure. Our test units included a 20GB (about 18.6 GB formatted) Toshiba mobile drive, which came close to matching the capacity of our test IBM T20 notebook drive. The case is held together by three screws, which makes it easy to remove the drives. The custom PC Card or USB interface connector can be unplugged from the native drive connector as well. The PC Card version is compatible with Windows OSes from Win95B and NT 4.0 onwards. The USB version works with all recent Windows operating systems except Win95B and NT 4.0. Separate USB and FireWire versions with appropriate backup software are available for the Mac running OS 8.6x, 9.1 or later, and OS X 10.1 or later. The photo of the PC Card version below shows the cabling fully extended. The cable and plastic card connector can be attached and locked into the back of the unit for easier storage.
You can get a good idea of the units size in my hand below. The drive included in the 20GB ABSplus model is the 4200rpm, 2.5" ATA/100-based Toshiba MK2018GAS. The drive is only 9.5mm thick and includes a 2MB buffer, and a Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) motor drive. Its been tested to withstand up to 125G operating and 1400Gs of non-operating shock when mounted in the enclosure. You might want to buy one yourself without the rest of the CMS product, and you can do so here. CMS mentioned they had a lab video showing their drive tested in a special rig that imparts some serious shock, and I thought you might be interested in seeing it in action. I particularly like the sweep tone…
Windows Media
CMS ABSplus Shock Testing (1 MB)
CMS has tested the drive in over 80 popular notebooks from a variety of manufacturers. Still, its a good idea to check with CMS to ensure the ABS drive can directly replace your notebooks built-in drive if ever needed.

Nick Stam Co-Founder, ExtremeTech
Ex-Director, PC Magazine Labs

Nick is a founder of the ExtremeTech website. He worked with co-founder Bill Machrone designing the site, staffing up, and getting initial content developed for ET's formal launch on June 12, 2001. Nick was Senior Technical Director of ET until mid-2003, while concurrently performing duties in PC Magazine Labs.

Nick was a technical director in PC Labs from late 1991 through mid-2002, and was Lab Director from mid-2002 until March 2005. Prior to PC Magazine, Nick was in the computer industry in various development, systems engineering, and management roles since mid-1980, and he received an MS in Computer Science from SUNY Binghamton.

In March 2005, Nick decided it was time to leave Ziff Davis Media (parent of PC Magazine and ExtremeTech) to pursue other opportunities, but wishes all the best to the ET and PC Magazine staff and reader communities!

Nick can be contacted at


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