PocketDrive

FireWire hard-drives have taken a long time getting to market, and are still rare. LaCie’s new PocketDrive range may change this. They have taken away many of the compatibility issues involved with FireWire and USB. And storage capacity runs from 6GB up to 18GB – enough for most users. Compatibility
The interface for the drive is both FireWire and USB. So, whether you’re an iMac or a G3/G4 owner, the same drive is compatible – great if you change machines. It’s also pocket-size. Pocket-size isn’t a legally precise word – after all, pockets come in different sizes. Shirt pockets are out of the question, as are trouser pockets – though maybe combats are up to the job. In the event you do get the PocketDrive into a pocket, it should be fairly safe there. Its rubber edging should take much of the force out of bumps and knocks – just don’t throw yourself down the stairs. Setting the drive up is a bit of a chore, but all the software you need is supplied. Unfortunately, Macs don’t tend to have the software extensions required for FireWire or USB hard drives. This means if you want to have the PocketDrive to carry work from the office to home, the software must be on both machines. This is not such a big deal, but there isn’t the flexibility of SCSI, which didn’t require drivers. For a consultant going from machine to machine, the need for drivers is a bit of a drawback. The extra storage is a boon to cramped hard drives – though how anybody manages to fill the multi-gig drives that even iMacs come with is a mystery to me. I suppose the more room you have, the less likely you are to throw out the rubbish. One potential drawback is the inability to load a System Folder that you can start from. This is because the drivers required to see the drive must be loaded. If the drivers are on the external PocketDrive, the Mac won’t be able to see it. It is a Catch 22, and takes away one of the big advantages of an external drive – namely as a temporary boot disk for disk defragmentation or reformatting.

OUR VERDICT

If you need to add to your storage capacity, the Pocketdrive is a fairly flexible option. There are cheaper ways to do it, but this way the drive will last through a machine upgrade. The USB interface means it will work with iMacs, though not as quickly as FireWire-equipped machines. Being able to carry data around will not be on everybody’s list of must-have features, but PowerBook users may find it useful. It’s a good and reliable way of expanding storage capacity.

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