Amacom – Flipdisk USB review

clever, dual-interface removable drive
Photo of Amacom – Flipdisk USB
£299 + VAT and upwards, depending on capacity

Amacom’s unique and strange-looking Flipdisk, which has been around for a couple of years, is a blue (and now translucent) gadget, about the size of a large palmtop computer. It has a built-in PCMCIA (PC Card) connector at one end and a compact parallel port connector at the other. Inside this uniquely-styled packaging is a 2.5-inch hard drive, surrounded by shock-absorbing material, and available in a variety of capacities from 4GB to 25GB, with higher capacities on the way.

In previous incarnations, the Flipdisk could be used either by plugging it directly into a notebook’s PCMCIA port, or by connecting it to a parallel port and using a Y-cable from the PC’s keyboard socket to provide power. In this way, users had access to some impressive external data storage. The drives are supplied with a copy of NovaStor NovaBackup software, so the available capacities can effectively be doubled under some circumstances. Performance is good, too, so running applications directly from the drive is no problem. Under some circumstances, it’s even possible to run an operating system from the drive, although you’d need to be a bit of a whizz at boot disk creation to get away with this.

Now Amacom has launched a new version. Although the design is basically the same, the new unit now ships as standard with a USB cable in place of the parallel one. This is a sensible move, as it allows Mac users access to the unit, and eliminates the need for an additional power supply; all power comes from the USB port, or the PCMCIA port, as appropriate. The parallel cable is still available as an optional extra for those who need it, but in most cases, we reckon the standard interfaces should be all you’ll need to backup data, transfer files between machines and take bulky presentations on the road. The drive is compatible with DOS, Windows 3.xx, 95, 98, 2000, NT, OS2, Unix, Linux and MAC OS.

Company: Amacom

Contact: 020 8993 7373


Verdict
The Flipdisk has many uses, as shown by its relatively long life: many removable storage solutions have been and gone in the time that this unit has been on the market. This USB version should extend the product's life even further. For data transfer, backup, laptop expansion, disaster recovery, and the storage of confidential data, it's one of the best products on the market.