Iomega PocketZip! Drive
Let's face it: Compact Flash cards are great. They come in a wide-range of sizes and are easy to use in Handheld PCs. They are fast, reliable and in the nearly 3 years I've had my SanDisk 128MB CF Card, I can still expect another ten years or so of service from my card according to the manufacture.
The problem with Compact Flash technology though is its price. At anywhere from 1-to-2 dollars per megabyte, large amounts of storage can become costly quickly.
Microdrive technology offers an alternative to CF Cards and is considerably less when comparing cost-per-megabyte. However, Microdrives tend to be a bit on the noisy side, they eat large amounts of power from your HPCs battery and if you drop it, you just lost it!
In looking around for a inexpensive alternative to both CF Cards and Microdrives, I discovered Iomega's PocketZip! PC Card drive. It is a Type II PC Card with a removable 40MB hard disk that ejects from the PC Card, allowing users change disks easily or to have multiple disks for different purposes. The basic kit includes the Type II PC Card, one 40MB disk, and Windows desktop-based drivers all for $21.99 (at Iomega's website on 3/22/2002). This breaks down to .54 cents-per-megabyte, nearly half the cost of a CF Card in most cases. Further, Iomega offers a four-pack of the 40MB disks for $29.95, sending the cost-per-megabyte down to .19 cents.
Usually the two big questions related to storage and HPCs concern battery consumption and access speed. In both cases, I have been pleasantly surprised.
In using the PocketZip! In my Jornada 720, I saw only about a 35% battery loss using the drive on a continual basis for Windows Media Player files. The drive does an excellent job of going into a power saving mode when it is not being accessed and takes an average of 3 seconds to start spinning once it has gone into this down time.
Access speed is also impressive, given this power saving mode it enters. Once the drive is inserted, it takes several minutes for the drive to be recognized by the 720. However, once this initial process is complete, the drive runs at a speedy 2941 RPM, taking access times to an average of 25 ms. Iomega claims a 600K/seconds transfer rate when using the drive in a notebook. While I do not have an accurate way of measuring the transfer rates in my Jornada 720, my transfer of a 1 MB text file from the drive to main memory took just over 2 seconds.
Finally, the question of reliability is answered by Iomega with a 5 year usage life and a 10 year shelf life for each 40 MB disk. The disks are also rated to survive a drop of nearly 7 feet. Considering I have "lost" Microdrives from dropping them from the desktop, this alone is an impressive enough feature to consider purchasing the drive. I test dropped a disk from my desktop level and from head-level height (I'm 6',1") and the disk is still operational. While I wouldn't suggest just dropping the disks for fun, my test proved to me that the disks are solid and reliable.
If you are looking for inexpensive yet reliable storage alternative for you HPC, consider the Iomega PocketZip! PC Card Drive. It can be purchased from many online retailers or from Iomega directly at their website.
Note that you will need to download the driver set for the Compaq iPaq Pocket PC and install them (it is available as an .exe desktop install or a .cab direct install on your HPC). This download includes the ATA Drive drivers needed by CE to access the drive as a Storage Card.
The Iomega tools will not function which means you will not have the ability to password the drive along with some other features. Once you install the tools, you can simply delete the shortcut on your Start Menu. I have contacted Iomega about porting these tools to HPC and they have indicated they are reviewing the possibility.
Windows CE 3.0 HPC2000
More information on the PocketZip! can be found at the following URL.