Kingston Technology – DataPak 2GB review

high capacity PC Card (PCMCIA) hard drive
Photo of Kingston Technology – DataPak 2GB
£312 + VAT

Portable storage solutions are becoming increasingly popular, as more users realise the benefits of being able to carry important documents and even e-mails around with them. The problem, though, is capacity. Zip disks are limited to 250MB, which sounds a lot but can quickly be filled, while few USB ‘memory drives’ have capacities over 128MB.

One solution to this problem is a removable hard drive, using the PC Card or PCMCIA* format. This card from Kingston is a Type II device and will fit into the vast majority of notebooks on the market as well as some PDAs. Its capacity of 2GB will allow most users to carry around all their personal and work documents as well as the entire contents of their e-mail data directories. Alternatively, the drive could be used to add capacity to a notebook PC, without the hassling of removing and replacing the built-in hard drive.

Installation is as painless as it could be. You simply plug the drive into one of your notebook’s PC Card slots and the operating system should recognise it automatically. We tried it with Windows 98 and had no problems. Just out of curiosity, we also tried it in an old 486 notebook running DOS and Windows 3.11. Again, no problems – the drive was detected by the notebook’s Card Services and installed as a new drive letter.

In use the drive is remarkably quiet. It couldn’t be heard above the cooling fans and built-in hard drives of our test notebooks. It’s also very quick, which surprised us given its dimensions. It’s hard enough to build a 2GB mechanism that small, let alone get it to perform well. The areal density helps here, though; 2GB in such a small space means that the data you need is never going to be far away from the read/write heads.

As you’d expect, though, the drive does generate quite a lot of heat. This doesn’t affect it’s operation, but it indicates that the battery life of the host notebook would be reduced while the DataPak was in use. The drive, which is about the same size as a credit card, albeit a few millimetres thick, comes with a shock-protecting rubber carry case.

Company: Kingston Technology

Contact: 01256 396 500


Verdict
In addition to being impressive from a purely technological viewpoint, as a personal backup solution for mobile workers, the DataPak has real potential. It's small, fast, high-capacity and reasonably priced. It should also be considered if your current notebook hard drive is running out of capacity and you don't fancy messing around with screw-drivers and data transfer cables.