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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 24974x
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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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