Bullet Drive Professional PC Card Cable and
Chassis plus USB Interface
to the web site
Requires: 2.5" Hard
Drive, computer with USB, Firewire or PC Card interface
and a small screwdriver
for the kit, US$49.99 for the interface cable
in an era of portable computing, but it's not
limited to mobile users. Desktop users also have
the need to share or transfer files across multiple
computers. Even if you have an intranet or Internet
storage area, the hard drives usually fill up
before you realize it. With the increasing complexity
of operating systems and ready availability of
multimedia files and the need for backups, computer
users are facing the challenge of getting sufficient
storage. Portable storage solutions are getting
hotter and bigger than ever.
storage solutions usually come in a few flavors:
(1) enclosure kit without a drive, (2) enclosure
kit with a drive which cannot be easily detached,
and (3) enclosure and drive which can be easily
detached. The first and last categories are the
most interesting ones because they allow you to
replace the hard drive using the same enclosure
over and over again. All drive kits are available
for 2.5" and 3.5" hard drives. The kit
we reviewed requires a 2.5" hard drive.
is also important. The standard interface is universal
serial bus (USB) for desktop PC, PC Card for
notebooks (PCMCIA), and IEEE1394 (Firewire). Late model notebook
computers also come with USB and Firewire ports as standard
configuration. One disadvantage of PCMCIA is that the cable
can easily break at the card connection. Most of the kits
come in one interface, including the Bullet Drive professional
Assembly and installation of the Bullet Drive is a four-step
process. The first step is to mount the hard drive in the
chassis. It requires some practice and took me some time
to master it. The problems were the small size and enclosure
alignment difficulty. The two pieces of enclosure, the front
piece, the hard drive and the electronic board must all be
aligned properly and fastened in place before you can successfully
use the kit. This step also has a big impact on the subsequent
steps. Without a careful assembly, this kit cannot be functional.
The chassis provides the power.
One nice thing
about the Bullet Drive Professional is that it comes with
both an AC converter and a serial connector.
With the AC converter, you hook up the kit to your AC source
as usual. The serial connector allows you to use the power
from the computer without external source. That's pretty
neat, but it is not mentioned in the manual. 2.5" drives
do not need any power cable.
The second step is to attach the kit to the computer. Operating
systems like Windows XP and Windows 98 will recognize the
interface cable first. The driver for the interface cable
and the chassis come with the kit on a floppy disk. Windows
XP will automatically search for and install the driver.
Windows 98 requires you to browse or type in the subdirectory
name in the A: drive. PC Card installation on Windows XP
is automatic and requires no manual intervention at all.
The USB driver needs a little extra work, but it is not complicated.
Here the manual is wrong about the Windows XP. It says that
you have to choose the second driver for Windows XP, but
I had to choose the first one on my Windows XP professional
notebook. Perhaps the manual was tested with XP Home, but
I don't have other XP versions to verify.
The third step is automatically initiated by Windows when
it finds the Bullet Drive chassis. Again, I had to choose
the first driver on the list for my XP Pro computer, not
the second one as described by the manual.
The last step is the most troublesome. You need to run FDISK
to complete the job in Windows 98, or use the Disk Management
utilities on Windows XP. Subsequent connection to the computer
after installation is also tricky. You must assemble the
whole kit before attaching it to the computer. If you leave
the interface cable attached to the computer and connect
the chassis after the computer is booted, the computer only
recognizes the interface cable, not the hard drive.
My notebook is running Windows 98; my desktop computer is
running Windows XP. Since the kit comes with a PC Card, I
tried it on my notebook first. However, I had a lot of difficulty
installing the kit on the laptop so I requested the USB interface
to try the kit on my desktop. The desktop computer recognized
the drive, but the last step still failed because FDISK could
not create a partition. So I tried Windows XP Disk Management
and it surprisingly worked. I re-connected the drive to the
laptop, but Windows 98 FDISK would not recognize the partition
created by Windows XP even though I specifically choose not
to format it in Windows XP. During this whole period of time,
I disassembled and reassembled the whole kit numerous times.
My ideal portable
storage device is one that has large storage capacity,
a convenient interface for multiple computers,
compatibility with various operating systems, size and weight
small enough for mobile computing, and a form factor which
makes it easy to install and switch hard drives. This product
segment is still evolving. More interesting products should
be coming out in the near future. For now, PC Card looks
awkward and the USB port looks more promising. 2.5" hard
drives may replace 3.5" if their prices can continue
to drop. Companies like iGo have and will come up with more
convenient kits that allow easy installation of the increasing
larger hard drives to any computer. The Bullet Drive Professional
Kit is one step toward that goal.
(Ed. Note: iGo was quick to respond to the error in
the installation instructions under Windows XP. The company
told us they will add an insert to update the manual in
Road Warrior Bullet Drive Professional PC Card Cable and
Chassis Kit product shipments).
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