The 'Book Review

Battery Powered Portable Hard Drive, Slimmest and Lightest 16x FireWire CD-RW Drive, and More

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2002.04.05

Except as noted, prices are in US dollars.

FireWire Direct Spark EP: Industry First Lithium-Ion Battery Operated FireWire Portable Hard Drive Inc. has announced a new FireWire portable hard drive small enough to fit in an open hand or pocket.

FireWire Direct Spark EmPowered (EP) features a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) rechargeable battery making it suitable for self powering on iLink and laptops and other where power cords just aren't practical.

The is the most truly mobile full featured FireWire Storage Solution available anywhere, with a Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery that allows this tiny hard drive to operate self power with laptops, iLink (4-pin non-powering) computers, and digital video devices supporting FireWire storage.

The Spark EP is unique and a first of its kind in its use of a rechargeable Li-Ion battery that will enable the drive to power itself, making this FireWire storage solution truly plug and play for iLink (4-pin) computers and laptops that would normally require power supplied by AC. Digital video users will find this drive ideal for working with cameras that support FireWire storage. It can be moved on battery power without powering up or down, making it ideal for interoffice file exchanges and the battery will recharge itself automatically when plugged back into a powered FireWire port or when connected to the AC adapter so it's always ready to go.

FireWire Direct continues to employ the industry's thinnest hard drive mechanisms - 9.5 mm drives - so the new Spark EP measures barely 3/4" in height and is among the tiniest designs ever seen in a full featured FireWire storage solution. It is supported on any computer running Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Silicon Graphics , Novell, Sun Microsystems Solaris, Red Hat Linux or other systems with FireWire support.

  • Two FireWire ports (highest speed Oxford 911 ATA-100)
  • Easy access on/off power for easy operation and conservation of battery
  • Piercing blue power indicator light, red drive activity indicator light, brushed aluminum
  • Ideal for presentations, interoffice file sharing, students, video in the field
  • Rechargeable battery powers drive on both 6-pin and 4-pin desktops, laptops and digital video devices


  • Spark III EP 40 GB drive, $389
  • Spark III EP 30 GB drive, $349
  • Spark III EP 20 GB drive, $219
  • Spark III EP 10 GB drive, $199
  • Spark III EP enclosure kit, $149

PowerBook ResQ Repair Service

MacResQ's PowerBook ResQ program covers all PowerBook models, from the PowerBook 100 to the latest G4 Titanium - and also includes all iBook models.

The $99 fee covers the cost of shipping the PowerBox (which you get to keep for future use), three-way overnight shipping in each direction, and the time for a MacResQ Technician to perform an expedited detailed diagnosis of your PowerBook or iBook. Your repair is then completed within 24 hours in most cases.

The PowerBox was specifically designed to provide a safe and secure home for your PowerBook (or iBook) during transport. Your PowerBook is held securely with strength-tested foam padding that will prevent any mechanical or cosmetic damage.

If you decide not to have your PowerBook repaired, it will be shipped back to you in the PowerBox. There will be no charges other than the initial $99.

The standard warranty for items repaired on your PowerBook is 90 days. Extended warranties are available.

Over the past 9 years, MacResQ has repaired more than 10,000 PowerBooks.

For more information, visit <> or call 1-866-Mac-Repair.

SportFolio for Titanium G4 PowerBooks and iBooks

The SportFolio laptop case offers rugged, high-tech neoprene construction with a built-in plastic shell for impact protection. The exterior features an easily accessible front pocket, a back zippered pocket, and a vulcanized rubber bottom and sides for a secure grip. The case zips closed to hold its contents securely. The all-black interior features a soft, plush fabric, and a large pocket. A removable black shock-absorbing shoulder strap is included. All in all a great combination of features that make this case stand out from the crowd.

Case features:

  • Easily accessible exterior front pocket
  • Roomy, zippered back pocket
  • Large, secure interior pocket
  • Dual zippers for easy opening
  • Rugged 3 mm neoprene construction
  • Plastic inner shell for impact protection
  • Plush-lined interior with document pocket
  • Easy-grip bottom for carrying as a folio
  • Padded for all-around protection

Shoulder strap features:

  • Easy-grip, shock-absorbing design
  • Swivel clips prevent twisting
  • Adjustable length for maximum comfort
  • Easily removable

TiBook inside case dimensions: 13.75" x 10.5" x 2" or 35 cm x 26.7 cm x 5.1 cm

iBook inside case dimensions: 11.25" x 9.75" x 2" or 28.6 cm x 24.8 cm x 5.1 cm

Colors: Black, blue, graphite

Price: $39.95

MCE Lucid-16 Portable CD Burner

The Lucid-16 16x10x24 Portable FireWire CD-RW drive's industrial design handsomely complements all of Apple's current systems, particularly the PowerBook G4 Titanium. The Lucid-16 CD-RW is the slimmest and lightest CD-RW drive on the market today. Just plug it into your computer's bus-powered FireWire port, and the Lucid-16 drive is ready to write data to standard recordable (CD-R) and rewritable (CD-R/W) CD discs - no power cord needed. Weighing in at under a pound and measuring less than an inch in height, the Lucid-16 CD-RW drive is clearly light enough to take anywhere.

Built-in Burn-Proof technology is designed to prevent writing errors caused by buffer underrun, freeing you from the worries of ruining your CD-R or CD-RW discs.

The high-speed FireWire interface allows for simple plug-and-play use with a variety of today's Macs running Mac OS 8.6 through Mac OS X (10.1.x or later), as well as PCs running Windows 98SE or later for those operating in crossplatform environments.

Included with the Lucid-16 CD-RW drive is the popular Toast CD-recording software which allows you to create audio CDs, bootable Mac OS CDs, and general backup CDs in a host of CD file formats. The Lucid drive is also compatible with Apple's iTunes and Disc Burner applications.


  • Maximum speed: 16x (record to CD-R disc), 10x (rewrite to CD-RW disc), 24x (read)
  • Maximum data transfer rate: Write 2400 KB/sec., rewrite 1500 KB/sec., read 3600 KB/sec.
  • Access time: 110 ms
  • Buffer size: 2 MB
  • Device supported formats: CD-DA, CD-ROM Mode 1, CD-ROM XA Mode 2 (Form 1, Form 2), Multisession Photo CD, CD-I, Video CD, CD Plus
  • Supported writing methods: Disc at once, Track at once, Session at once, Packet write
  • Supported Recording Media: 74 Min/650 MB; 80 Min/700 MB; 63 Min/553 MB CD-R and CD-RW Discs
  • Supported media sizes: 12 cm and 8 cm Discs
  • Power consumption (write mode, max): 7W
  • Weight: 15.3 oz (434 g)
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 6.5 x 0.8 in (140 x 165 x 22 mm)
  • Activity LED
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • System requirements: FireWire-equipped Mac running Mac OS 8.6 or later, including Mac OS X (10.1.x or later); FireWire-equipped PC running Windows 98SE or later

The Lucid-16. is available now for$349 from MCE Technologies.

WiebeTech Reduces Prices on FireWire Hard Drives

WiebeTech has reduced prices on certain configurations of its MicroGB line of portable FireWire/USB1/USB2 hard drives:

  • 20 GB MGB-20, $259.95 (was $279)
  • 30 GB MGB-30, $339.95 (was $349)
  • 40 GB MGB-40, $399.95 (was $449)
  • 48 GB MGB-48, $599.95 (was $699)

Poma Wearable Computer, er, Personal Multimedia Appliance

Xybernaut has entered the consumer market with Poma, a personal multimedia appliance. Poma is a featherweight CPU with an advanced head mount display that delivers instant access to email, Internet, music, games, and more.

Poma is comprised of three discrete components: the CPU, the VGA (SVGA display mode optional under Pomacertain conditions) Liquid Crystal Head Mount Display, and the Optical Pointing Device. Xybernaut has put together a number of items that augment the functionality of Poma and make it easier to fit into the ever-expanding lifestyles of its users. There are now more ways to transport and wear Poma with the newly designed pouch, shoulder strap and metal carrying case. There are also more ways to utilize Poma with 802.11b CompactFlash cards and 1 GB external microdrives.

Poma supports standard Manufacturer CompactFlash memory cards. Poma is only certified for use with Socket Communications CompactFlash 802.11b wireless LAN, Bluetooth, digital phone cards, 56K modem, serial and ethernet cards.

Units will only be shipped to addresses in the US and Canada.

The Poma wearable Internet device sells for $1,499.

Good Deal on Refurb Fuji FinePix Digital Camera

Not a portable computer, but has a friendly price on refurbished Fuji FinePix 1400 Zoom FinePix 1400Digital 1.3 MP Cameras which sold new for $479. The refurb units are $164.80, complete with a six month warranty.

This camera features a 1.31 megapixel (1280 x 960 pixels) CCD, 3x optical zoom, 10-second self-timer, and a USB interface.

Other features include:

  • Optical viewfinder
  • 1.6" LCD
  • 4 MB SmartMedia card
  • 2x digital zoom
  • Date/time function
  • Systems supported: Windows 98/2000, Mac OS 8.5.1/9.0

Requires four AA batteries (not included).

Online FinePix 1400 reviews:

Bargain 'Books

There are two different versions of WallStreet running at 233 MHz, the cacheless MainStreet version and the later Series II with a level 2 cache. It's not always possible to determine from the vendor's listing which is being offered, so we've included links within this paragraph to the two models.

Small Dog Electronics


  • iBook G3/500, 128 MB/10 GB/CD-RW 12.1", refurbished, $1,099.99
  • iBook G3/600, 128 MB/15 GB/DVD 12.1", refurbished, $1,179.99
  • iBook G3/600, 128 MB/15 GB/DVD 12.1", refurbished, free 128 MB, $1,199.99

And (mainly) for Canadian readers - in Canadian zlotys (er, dollars) - although I'm sure these resellers wouldn't turn away Yankee dollars. (The Canadian dollar is worth 62.8¢ US as we post this.)



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