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Micro Solutions Backpack 120 GB HD

With the large amount of data that we have today comprising of spreadsheets, images, videos and music having and easy way of transporting them from one computer to another is a must. We’ve taken a look at a solution to this problem: the Micro Solutions Backpack 120 GB HD.

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Introduction


With the large amount of data that we have today comprising of spreadsheets, images, videos and music having a easy way of transporting them from one computer to another is a must. We’ve taken a look at a solution to this problem: the Micro Solutions Backpack 120 GB HD.


Profile of a company


Micro Solutions was founded in 1980 and is located in DeKalb Illinois. For the last 20 years they have sold peripherals for computers and in 1990 they released their backpack product line, at that time being the premiere developer of parallel-port-attach mass-storage technology. Today they have both DVD±RW, CD-RW/DVD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD/CD-ROM, CD-ROM, hard drives and diskette drives in their line-up. While they still have parallel port interface products they now also have products using both USB and PC Card interface.


Specifications and testing


In my past job with DPRA we used Backpack CD ROM drives when installing software on computers that nobody ever thought of putting a CD ROM drive in. This was all done thanks to the parallel port interface. Today we got the USB 2.0 interface which of course moves the data much faster but if you happen to have a notebook or another computer without a CD ROM drive and without a USB port you will be happy to know that the parallel port option still is installed on the unit.

The unit is quite big.

Let us now look at the specifications of the unit.

Specifications

Transfer speed USB 2.0 – 25MB/s (max.)
EPP/ECP – 1.2MB/s (max.)
USB – 1.0MB/s (max.)
Average Access Time 9 milliseconds
Interleave 1:1
Power consumption 14 watts, universal power supply included
Operating Temperature 41°F – 131°F (5°C – 55°C)
Shock Operating – 10G
Non-operating – 150G
MTBF 750,000 hours POH
Dimensions 2″(h) x 4 3/4″(w) x 8 3/8″(l)
5.08cm (h) x 12.07cm (w) x 21.27cm (l)
Weight 2lbs., 3oz. (919g); power supply – 9oz. (247g);
parallel port cable – 5oz. (142g);
USB 2.0 cable – 1.5oz. (45g)
Warranty 1 year

Let us also look at the features of the unit:

• Attach to USB 2.0 port or Parallel Port – perfect for desktop and notebook PCs
• Supports both USB and Hi-Speed USB 2.0
• Hot Pluggable with USB and Parallel Port – attach and detach the drive without restarting your PC under Windows 95c (OSR 2), 98, Me, 2000 or XP
• Works with Windows 95c (OSR 2), 98, Me, 2000 and XP
• DOSb device driver for Windows 95c (OSR 2) and 98
• Detachable data cables make the drive easier to transport
• Can be daisy-chained with other backpack drives when using the parallel port
• Smart pass-through port (for your printer) allows you to print without disconnecting the drive when attached to the parallel port
• Uses industry standard Universal Serial Bus (USB) and Micro Solutions’ patented parallel port interface technology
• Supports LPT1 – LPT3

This is what you get in the package:

You get both USB and a parallell cable as well as a universal power adapter. Perfect for the trip.

Testing


To test the throughput of the drive we used SiSoft Sandra 2004. The system used was:

• ASUS A7N8X Deluxe 2.0
• Athlon 3000+ @ 3200+ 400MHz FSB
• 1GB Corsiar DDR 3200
• NVIDIA 5950 Ultra 256MB
• 2 x Maxtor DiamondMax 9 200GB ATA 133 7200RPM RAID 0 on Promise ATA 133 Controller
• Toshiba DVD
• Sony DVD RW 500UA
• Samsung 957MB 19″ Monitor
• Windows XP PRO SP1

As you can see from the Sandra Score it surpassed the old USB 1.1 drive by a large margin. It also scored right inline with a High Speed USB drive. The surprising thing is that the drive did not fare well against the Eumax Metal Gear Box 3.5-inch USB 2.0 & SATA Aluminum HDD Enclosure that we reviewed earlier this month. Since Micro Solutions told us not to open the case I do not know what drive was in the case. The Eumax had a 200GB Maxtor Diamond 9 in it. From our own testing we know that this is one of the best 7200RPM drives on the market.

The unit supports both USB 2.0, USB 1.1 and parallell interface. USB2 of course is the fastest.

I am happy to say that movies and videos copied to the drive did play back just fine without dropping any of frames. I also took the drive to all the Windows XP machines I have and transferred the files just fine. On USB 1.1 machines though we did notice some dropped frames in the movie playback that we had not seen on the USB 2.0 machines.

Conclusion


Pros:

- USB 2.0 and Parallel Port
– Speed is on Par for standard USB 2.0 Drives
– Company has been around for a long time
– Good tech support

Cons:

- Case could be more stylish
– Price at 197.13 found on PriceGrabber, you could get the Eumax with a faster 200GB drive for about 30-40 more.
– No Firewire

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