The HS100 USB Drive

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2003-11-19 Print this article Print

Korean manufacturer Digitalway aims to change all that with their MPIO HS100 memory drive. Though the MSRP is $199, the street price for this 1.5GB drive will likely come in around $150. The HS100 uses a Cornice storage element, which offers 1.5GB of rotating magnetic storage.
Digitalways drive resembles a classic Zippo lighter, except that the top is completely removable, rather than hinged. The fact that the HS100 uses sensitive rotating media built on basic hard drive technology could be a concern. However, we tried our best to abuse it -- dropping it on hardwood floors and inadvertently leaving it out in the rain with the top on for several hours -- and it still kept on ticking.
The HS100 plugs into a standard USB port and fully supports USB 2.0. It will also work with USB 1.1 connections, though with a substantially reduced transfer rate. Just for curiositys sake, we ran Winbench 99 version 2.0s disk tests on the drive. Our tests indicated a maximum transfer rate over USB 2.0 of about 5.3MB per second and an average access time of 37 milliseconds. This is a slower than USB 2.0s theoretical maximum of 60MB per second but notably faster than USB 1.1 transfer rates. The rate is also considerably slower than a standard external hard drive, but faster than some USB memory-based devices weve used. After all, this isnt competing with hard drives, but with portable memory keychain devices. The access time isnt wonderful either, compared to modern hard drives, but its more than adequate for a device thats mainly used as a portable cargo carrier for your digital bits. Perhaps more importantly, the CPU utilization remained under 10%. During some of our testing, we yanked the drive as files were being transferred. Of course, Windows XP was unhappy about this, and generated an error message. Although the file transfer was interrupted, we never found any errors using Scandisk, and the drive continued to operate without any issues. The HS100 ships in a compact nylon case, which contains a carrying strap and a USB extension cable, allowing the device to plug into computers where the area around the port may be too tight to connect the drive directly (though the entire package is smaller than most compact digital cameras.) The unit is fully powered by the USB port and ships with a CD containing drivers for Win9x. Windows XP, Windows 2000 (SP3 and later), and MacOS X support the drive directly. To read the full story, click here.

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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