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COMPUTING

A portable CD-ROM drive to flip over

October 19, 1999
Web posted at: 10:50 a.m. EDT (1450 GMT)

by Ed Gray

From...
Federal Computer Week

(IDG) -- Need a portable, cost-effective CD-ROM drive to attach to your notebook PC? The MiniCD Flip from CMS Peripherals Inc. may be just the ticket.

The MiniCD Flip is ideal for the notebook computer owner who does not have a built-in CD drive. It is ultra-compact and lightweight, weighing a mere 15.6 ounces (including the attached PC Card and cable). Moreover, it churns along at a respectable speed of 24X -- more than adequate for performing software installations, running a CD-based program from the drive or simply using the built-in headphone jack to listen to audio CDs.

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One of the best things about the MiniCD Flip is the PC Card, which snaps neatly into a slot on the bottom of the unit or into the PCMCIA slot in your laptop. The entire CD unit also draws power from the computer through this PCMCIA interface, eliminating the need for a cumbersome power adapter.

The MiniCD Flip also is hot swappable, meaning that the unit can be plugged into a notebook at any time and be ready for operation without rebooting the computer. We inserted the PCMCIA card into an empty slot, and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system did the rest -- recognizing the MiniCD Flip and making it available for immediate use.

The unit performed without a hitch, and installing software was a quick and seamless process. It also provided clear, smooth audio from music CDs while we were working with Windows applications.

On the downside, the short length of the cable connecting the CD drive and PCMCIA card limits where you can place the MiniCD Flip. Depending upon the location of the PCMCIA slots, the unit must rest next to the laptop with the eject drawer aiming to the side, which could present problems in a tight space. It would be nice if the unit had a more flexible, slightly longer, or even a retractable, ribbon cable.

In addition, some notebooks may not provide enough power to run the MiniCD Flip, forcing users to purchase an additional external power source from CMS Peripherals.

Despite these minor drawbacks, the MiniCD Flip performs well and is easy to install and use. At $249, the unit is more expensive than standard desktop CD units, but it is competitive with other similar units designed for portables.


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