The HS100 USB Drive
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.
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.
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.