by May 6, 2001 0 comments

The storage market has seen a very interesting evolution. It started from perforated tape for storing data, and moved to magnetic tapes, which were able to achieve a blistering transfer rate of 1,200 bps. Then came the first hard drive with a capacity of 5 MB (laughable in today’s terms), and was the size of a brick. Today, you wouldn’t think of buying a hard drive below 20 GB. But the buck doesn’t stop here. Emerging technologies allow greater data density to be packed in lesser area. The latest is the IBM
Microdrive, a hard drive that’s about a quarter of the size of a 3.5” floppy disk. Even more amazing is the fact that it’s available in capacities of 340 MB and 1 GB. 

Price: Rs 13,750 (340 MB), Rs 28,750 (1GB); one-year warranty
Features: Available in 340 MB, 512 MB, and 1 GB capacity; 3,600 rpm. 
Pros: Excellent transfer rates; compact.
Cons: Expensive.
Source: Zeta Technologies 
E-mail:  website:, storage/microdrive Tel: 022-4102288 Fax: 4102277 Address: A/2, Shreeji
Niketan, 541/D, Dr Ambedkar Road, Matunga, Central Railway, Mumbai 400019
RQS# E32

The drive has a CF+ Type II interface, which is standard socket being used in a lot of digital cameras,
handhelds, and hardware audio players. In fact, a complete list of devices compatible with the Microdrive are given on the IBM website. These devices are becoming commonplace these days. PDAs like the Compaq iPAQ for instance, are being used for remotely administering networks. Hardware MP3 players and digital cameras also require plenty of storage. The Microdrive is a good fit for these. The one we reviewed came with an adapter that allowed it to be fit into the PCMCIA slot of a notebook. 

We tested the Microdrive on an IBM Thinkpad iSeries notebook. The drive was instantly recognized and drivers automatically installed. Though the drive comes with its own drivers on a floppy, we didn’t need them. The drive’s transfer rates are as good as an ordinary hard drive. We tried a variety of tests to check its performance. We first took an assortment of files totaling to 24.4 MB and transferred them to the
Microdrive. The drive took about a minute and half to copy the whole thing. 

We also transferred a small 1.4 MB file, which it copied in less than five seconds. We then tried copying a 21.6 MB MOV file, which is a QuickTime movie file. This time, the drive took about 15 seconds to copy. So, transfer speeds are not only dependent on drive speed, but also on the kind of files you’re transferring. The 24 MB folder contained a slew of files of different sizes that may be on different location of the hard drive, while the MOV file was one continuous media file. So as far as performance is concerned, the Microdrive is superb. 

We next decided to torture the drive with some multitasking. We played a 5 MB MP3 file, and simultaneously tried to copy a 21 MB video to the
Microdrive. Here, the music became jerky and played intermittently. When we tried the same thing on the laptop’s original drive, the music played smoothly without a glitch.

So though the drive’s a great performer, its price is nothing to write home about. 

Anil Chopra at PCQ Labs

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