Palm Connected Organizers running Palm OS v2.04 and
30 K free RAM
The FlashPlug by JKS Technologie of
Germany is a plug-in 8meg FLASH memory drive for your Palm Connected Organizer.
|The FlashPlug is a small module that plugs directly into the
PDAs hotsync port. The unit is like having a mini hard drive for your PDA.
You can copy files from your PDA to the FlashPlug and visa versa. This
gives you 8 Megabytes of nonvolatile secondary storage. Remember that word
‘storage’. You can’t execute a program directly from the FlashPlug.
You have to first copy it back to the PDA. Third party developers may
solve this problem in the future.
Physically the unit is similar to but larger than the end of a hotsync cable.
It is easy to insert and remove from a Palm III series unit. Although the
FlashPlug has a Palm III series connector, it will also connect and work easily
with a Palm V series if you use The Bridge for the Palm V or the PalmDock.
There are no moving parts, buttons, LEDs or batteries in the FlashPlug. It
draws its power from the PDA it is plugged into and is entirely inactive while
not accessing data, i.e. there is no ‘standby’ power consumption. Power
consumption while reading or writing data is 2mA typical and 4mA max.
To copy files into and out of the FlashPlug, you need to install a 30k .PRC
file called FlashCmd. This is a small easy to use file manager type program. The
program only works when you plug the FlashPlug module into the PDA. This program
allows you to select files to copy to the FlashPlug or to copy from the
FlashPlug to the PDA.
Like a hard drive, the FlashPlug comes partitioned into ‘drives’. Mine
arrived with a 4meg C:\ drive, 2meg D:\ drive and a 2meg E:\ drive. Using the
FlashCmd program, you can delete and create new partitions. You can name the
partitions and even specify the block size (1 block = 8k) for the partitions.
Depending on the block size that you choose, you’ll get a different sized
1.0meg = 128 blocks
1.5meg = 192 blocks
2.0meg = 256 blocks
4.0meg = 512 blocks
8.0meg = 1024 blocks
The program recommends that you use at least a 128k block size. Having
different partitions is nice because you could create a partition called DOCS
and just save .DOC files to it. Or a partition named PICS where you put all your
AlbumToGo pictures. Again, you can’t access the files directly from the
FlashPlug. You have to first copy them back to the PDA. There’s only one thing
that I found that makes having multiple partitions a bit lacking. Using the
FlashCmd program, you can’t copy files back and forth between the
different partitions on the FlashPlug. You can only copy files from the PDA to a
partition and visa versa. So, I deleted all the partitions and created one large
Having different block sizes also may explain why I noticed that the files
that I copied from my PDA to the FlashPlug ended up being a tiny bit smaller.
|Size on PDA||Size on FlashPlug||Difference in sizes|
What about copying speed? The interface is serial and can transfer data at
115,200 bps (RS232). I did some tests as you can see in the table below. Copying
files with the FlashPlug isn’t super snappy. For small files, it’s fine but to
copy large files prepare to wait awhile.
|Copying time till complete||Number of files copied||Total size of copied files|
|~1 min. 29 sec.||10||500,055k|
|~2 min. 12 sec.||9||750,115k|
|~2 min. 56 sec.||15||1,000,350k|
|~4 min. 24 sec.||23||1,500,334k|
The FlashCmd program is very basic. All you can do is select single or
multiple files and copy them to or from the FlashPlug module. There aren’t any
real backup features. If you wanted to use the FlashPlug strictly as a backup
device, you would have to copy all the files every time you wanted to do a
backup. If you had a full unit, this would take a long time and would become
quite tedious. With some good backup features, you could just copy the changed
What about battery drain due to copying back and forth from FLASH? I
didn’t have any drain problems whatsoever. I actually did all the copying tests
in the table above back to back without turning of my Palm IIIc. I started with
a fully charged battery and after I was done with all my tests, the battery was
only down about 10%. I turned off the IIIc for a couple hours and when I turned
it back on, it had recovered to full (all but the very tip of the battery icon).
The FlashPlug quite expensive. But if you have the $$’s, it is a compact
method of storing extra files for your Palm Connected Organizer. It is
good for people that may need to carry around very large databases, or lots of
large .DOC files. Until the FlashCmd software becomes more feature rich, I don’t
think this product is the best choice for someone that just needs a backup
module. It is also not a good choice for someone that has a 2meg PDA and needs
more memory. That type of person would be better off looking at either upgrading
to a new 8meg PDA or actually upgrading their current PDA to 8megs via someone
The FlashPlug is available in the US at PDA
Compact way to carry around extra files.
Can create multiple partitions.
Lack of backup features.
Can’t execute or read files directly from the FlashPlug.
Can’t copy files between partitions.