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REVIEW: Toshiba 5 GB Type II PCMCIA Hard Disk Drive
Posted by Arne Hess - on Thursday, 22.08.02 - 10:47:00 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 24793x
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The Toshiba 5 GB PC Card HDD offers mobile computer users such as Pocket PC owner the highest capacity available in PCMCIA form factor and the most cost effective solution. It's powerful, lightweight design make it an ideal "bridge" device for sharing data between systems such as Notebooks, Pocket PCs or Digital Cameras. The new drive stores as much information as 3,472 floppy disks or more than 7 CDs.


  • 5.0 Gigabytes
  • Only 55 grams
  • Dual Voltage supports 5V and 3.3V
  • 15ms average seek time
  • Dual Interface supporting PC Card ATA and 68-pin ATA
  • 66.7MB/s ultra DMA transfer rate
  • 300,000 MTTF hours

Using the card
Because the hard disk is a PCMCIA Type II card, it fits into the HP iPAQ PC Card sleeve as well as into the Casio E-200 PC Card sleeve.

If the card isn't used it can be safely stored in a special box. This protects the card towards shocks and vibrations.

The Pocket PC recognizes the card without any additional drivers. On the Casio E-200 it is recognized as "PC Card" in the File Explorer while the iPAQ recognize it as "Storage Card" only.

The hard disk can be accessed like the internal storage or CF and SD storage cards. Also you don’t hear it working because it is absolute silent. The only difference is that it becomes warm which I’ve never noticed so far on Flash memory cards.

Battery Usage
While the PC Card HDD is a great memory expansion it uses the battery more than Flash memory cards for sure as it works mechanical. I’ve tested it with the Windows Media Player and played a 5 MB movie in a loop.
On the iPAQ it played this movie (according to the PPCW.Net Benchmarks) 2:05 hours. However, the bottleneck seems to be the iPAQ. While the iPAQ battery was less 40 % after 1:30 h running the expansion pack battery was something around 80 %. This is a pretty good result for the expansion pack battery since it drives the hard disk.

Final Conclusion

The Toshiba PC Card HDD is a great extension if you need more storage capacity than the available 512 MB SD Cards or the 1 GB IBM Micro Drive. It works just as plug and play on Pocket PCs without the need to install any additional drivers.
The only disappointment is for sure the battery usage which makes me wonder at all. A hard disk is a mechanical storage device and this takes battery capacity for sure. However, to drain the battery with 20 % only after 1.5 h usage time is a pretty good result. 2:00 h of usage time means at least that you would be able to watch a full movie on your Pocket PC. However, this time might be shorter if you access different files which starts and stops the HDD.
Fascinating is the thought to expand the storage capacity of a Casio E-200 up to 6.5 GB by using the Toshiba 5 GB HDD, the IBM 1 GB HDD and a 512 MB SD Card.

A little bit annoying is copying large files to the card through the USB cable of the Pocket PC. If you copy a movie, this takes for sure to long. Here I recommend using a Notebook or a PCMCIA adapter for Desktop PCs.

The card can be recommended for every road worrier who need to store a huge amount of data. But also for in-flight entertainment it works great. On my last trip to Norway I had 4 movies plus some of my music files with me and I was able to select between different movies I wanted to watch. The 2:05 h runtime is enough at least for one movie. However I would like to see the availability of power plugs on the seats at aircrafts, even in the Economy Class.

The card is available from different online stores like for around 399,00 US$

Cheers ~ Arne

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Posted by David on 22.08.02 - 00:00:00

Sorry about the first post that contained nothing. I accidently hit the submit button...

Anyway, I agree with you Arne that there should be power plugs in the seats of aircrafts even in economy. Last time when I flew to the US, I flew with AA and every seat on the aircraft had one of those Empower adapters for laptops, PDAs, or other electronic devices. On Saturday I'm flying back to the US (I live in Germany) and from doing a little research I discovered that United Airlines doesn't have power plugs in economy seats. This really made me mad because I was about to order a Empower adapter so I could power my laptop (getting one for the Dell Inspiron 8200 is a whole different problem though because of the power it requires). Oh well, I guess I have to live with two batteries.

I would also like to say that I really enjoy your Pocket PC webpage because it reports on Pocket PC news from a German angle which is really great. Keep up the good work!


Posted by Pony99CA on 01.09.02 - 00:00:00

I'd be happy if they came up with a new class.  I call i5 Super Coach, which gives you a business class seat without the rest of the business class amenities (free drinks, better food, etc.).  I'd pay $50 more one-way for that.

I'm 6'2", and find the economy class seats barely tolerable.

As for power slots, when I flew United to Frankfurt once, it actually turned out to be Lufthansa.  They had *real* power plugs (U.S. style) in the business class seats, so I didn't need to use my Empower adapter.


Posted by David McGhee on 04.09.02 - 00:00:00


Thanks for the review. I wonder if there is a device that will allow a USB connection to the Hdd (for machines ie. PC's that dont have a PCMCIA slot),


Posted by Arne Hess on 04.09.02 - 00:00:00

@David McGhee: You mean a kind of external PC Card reader? Yes, it's available. Just check Google. I've found two solutions there:
A USB Card Reader and a Card Reader which can built into the Desktop PC.

Posted by Jim Goff on 12.10.02 - 00:00:00

The 5 GB PC Card solution to PPC storage limitations is nice, but what would be infinitely nicer would be for PPC to offer decent USB host support.  Then you could get 4 times the storage for the half the price through, say, a external USB drive.  Plus you get all kinds or other expandability & connectivity options in the bargain.  In earlier article you report on the successful marriage of a USB floppy with a Casio 200 by way of a 3rd party driver.  Do you have a feel for when suitable USB drivers will become available for, say, a Toshiba e740 which has a small footprint expansion pak with a host USB port?

Posted by Anonymous on 10.11.02 - 00:00:00

is there a pocket pc with a usb port on it???????????

Posted by Arne Hess on 10.11.02 - 00:00:00

@Anonymous: Yes, for sure! The new Toshibas and the Casio E-200 supports USB Host. However, there are not so many USB drivers available...

However, I was able to run my USB FDD together with my Casio E-200 (see more here).
Cheers ~ Arne

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