NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, September 2003
Portable Backpack Writes, Reads DVDs With Ease
by Bob Schwabach of On Computers
from 08/11/03 Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Reprinted with permission
Suggested printing by Cheryl Spehar
bobschwab@oncomp.com (click to email author)

A new Backpack solves the problem of which path to take, and we're not talking about hiking.

This Backpack is a portable DVD reader and writer, and unlike most backpacks, it weighs less than three pounds. But wait, as they say in the late night TV commercials, that's not all you get. Pause for a little background music.

There are two incompatible formats for creating and reading DVD disks. One is DVD+RW, the other is DVD-RW. The nearly identical names just adds to the confusion. MicroSolutions' latest Backpack has the ungainly designation of Model 224010, but the very gainly ability to read and write either DVD format. As a very nice additional feature it can also create and read CDs, including music CDs.

You can play movie DVDs on this Backpack, but only if it's connected to the computer, not to a television set. The reason is simply that you can't connect it to a television set. The only connection port is for USB-2.0. And the reason for that is you need the high-speed, 16MB a second, transmission rate of USB-2 to watch the movie. Otherwise you get that jerky, frame by frame look.

We wrote up a hard drive version of the Backpack a couple of years ago and it drew a lot of reader interest. This one should be even more popular, since the reason for both of them is to provide portable storage. In the case of the new DVD Backpack that storage will be more or less permanent -- and large: A CD provides about 600MB (megabytes) of storage. But a DVD disk has room for 4.7 gigabytes. For a reference point, the CD alone can hold all of the Encyclopedia Britannica with room left over.

The only complaints we've been able to uncover is that laboratory benchmark tests show that the write and read speeds for the drive are not as high as claimed on the package. Okay. This doesn't bother me. It's never bothered me. In real life the differences amount to a few seconds. Even if it takes a minute longer than you expect to create a CD or DVD, so what? I always have papers to go through and mail to check. I welcome the time.

The "DVD plus or minus RW Backpack" works with Windows 98, Me, 2000 and XP and has a list price of $300. It is packaged with recording software and a nine ounce power supply. Web info: http://www.micro-solutions.com.

Portable Hard Drives

If you'd rather have a portable hard drive, there's nothing more portable than a "Pockey." It works with Windows, Mac or Linux computers.

The 20 gigabyte version I've had for several years costs $180 retail, weighs a few ounces and fits in the palm of your hand. An 80-gigabyte version sells for $450. Think of it as a laptop substitute, lighter and cheaper. One user noted he carries drive images (that means everything on the drive, including the operating system) for six different computers as he goes around his company restoring employees' computers to their original state. He also uses the Pockey to save their personal files so those can be restored as well. A disk jockey uses his Pockey to store MP3 files and carry everything he's going to play that night. He just drops it in his pocket and goes to work.

All the Pockeys have USB connections. They don't need a power supply because they draw power from the computer's USB port. Pockeys are made by Pocketec http://www.pocketec.net

Click here to return to top