Flash Drives, by Charles W. Evans

Miniature Mobile Storage - AVB Mobile Drive 2

When I say miniature, take that literally.

This is a very small, 512MB "hard drive" by AVB. (Capacities are available from 64MBs to two gigs for files, graphics, MP3s, pictures, video, etc.) Flash drive "storage" is solid state. That is, it is similar to your RAM memory, except your files remain on the drive when the power is off. All this in a case that you can wear around your neck, is less than three ounces and smaller than a pack of gum. So how does it connect? Easily. Remove the protective end cap and slide the "drive" into your computer's USB port or connection (all drives are backwardly compatible to USB 1.1) or use the "extension" cable. In about five seconds you'll see an icon in your system tray. It is compatible with a Mac.

For about two weeks I plugged it into a variety of computers and all recognized it without hesitation. Your computer will automatically assign to it the next available drive letter. It will work in an older USB 1.1 connection, but the transfer speed will be limited to the USB 1.1 speed. This is true of all USB 2 devices.

SAFETY NOTE: To remove this flash drive or other external USB hard drives, DO NOT simply remove the drive from your computer. Remember the small icon I mentioned that you will find in your system tray? Just right click on the icon and follow the instructions on the shut down menu. If you have more than one device, select the one you want to remove and click on STOP. When it is safe to remove the device, you'll see a notice to that effect. If you choose to remove it without this procedure, you may damage your hard or flash drive and/or the files on it.

Note: Do not unplug or remove the device if the drive's read/write light is on or blinking.

Use it just as you would any other storage device. Plugged into a USB 2 port, you'll hardly notice the difference in speed between an internal hard drive and this flash drive. It reads at 6MB/second and writes at 4.5MB/second. On a per megabyte basis, it is about twice the price of a hard drive.

AVB included a 3" CD that contains the Operations Manual and USB drivers for Win98SE and 2K. The Manual clearly explains how to run the USB Flash Disk Utility program to: password-protect your drive, change the drive's name, format the drive (it comes preformatted, ready-to-use), run the partitioning program or run an applet to transfer system files to it. If that is not enough, there is a utility to allow it to be set as a floppy or hard disk drive (if BIOS will support it).

This drive includes a USB cable, CD, extension cable (very convenient), and neck strap with quick-release clip. It supports: Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Mac OS 10.1, Linux 2.4 or above. For more info and updates go to www.avbusa.com.

Charles W. Evans is a HAL-PC member and the Magazine's Reviews Editor who can be contacted at reviews@hal-pc.org.