InnoPocket FlashPlus Plug and Play Compact Flash Springboard Adapter

Product Requirements:
Device:
Visor, Visor Deluxe, Visor Platinum, Visor Prism
35K 

The FlashPlus from InnoPocket  is a Plug and Play version of their
CompactFlash Adapter product.
This Springboard adapter allows you to use Compact Flash cards with your Visor
as a means of extra file storage space. The difference between the FlashPlus and
the CompactFlash Adapter is that instead of having to install the necessary drivers/utilities on to the Visor in order to use the
module like you have to do for the CompactFlash Adapter, these files are automatically installed whenever the FlashPlus module is inserted. When the Springboard module is removed, the drivers/utilities are removed.
So, the FlashPlus is plug and play meaning you need no other software in order
to use it. Of course, you’ll need some Compact Flash memory cards though. And,
before you ask, this adapter is only for memory cards.
The hardware/software is not compatible with CF+ cards (non-memory CF cards
including CF modems, bar code readers, serial ports, etc.). The InnoPocket
hardware and software is also not compatible with IBM’s Microdrive line of CF
hard drives.

The FlashPlus is a sturdy semi-transparent plastic Springboard module. The clear
plastic allows you to more easily guide the Compact Flash card into the slot
because you can see what you’re doing. Like their other product, the card is inserted into the Springboard so that you have to take the Springboard out of the slot in order to remove it. A
small cut out on the inside edge of the module is there to let you get your
fingernail on the Compact Flash card edge to pull it out. When the module is in
the Visor Springboard slot, you can’t get your fingernail easily into this
opening…

 

Compact Flash cards can be inserted completely into the FlashPlus so that they
don’t stick out at all like some other storage card Springboard solutions. Also,
the FlashPlus module is flush with the back of the Visor so you don’t have to
worry about it fitting in different cases.

If you insert the FlashPlus into the Springboard slot without having a Compact Flash card installed, the Visor will not power on and the software from the Springboard will not automatically install. But as soon as you insert a CF card, the Visor will power on, and the
FlashPlus utilities will be available. They show up in the launcher screen with a black square next to the application title.

The programs that become available to you are:

FAFileMover v1.4.0
FAUtil v.1.0
CSpotRun v.dev

The FA utils are the same set of Kopsis
utilities that the CompactFlash Adapter and the MatchBook Drive
use. As a result, you’re going to have the same incompatibility problems with different CF cards like I ran into with the MatchBook Drive and CompactFlash Adapter. My Lexar and large cards (128mb Kingston) won’t work with the FlashPlus.
But, my Sandisk cards work fine.

The FAFileMover application allows you to copy, delete, get info, create
directories, and change the CF timing. The timing setting can be toggled between
two settings: max speed and min power. The default being the min power setting.
This application copies files at an adequate speed. I did some timing tests and
they were the same as the CompactFlash Adapter speed tests that I performed for
that review. The following test is on the default max speed setting.

  Time to copy a 292k
file 
from RAM to CF
Time to copy a 292k
file
from CF to RAM
96meg CF card ~12 seconds ~7 seconds
4meg CF card ~11 seconds ~7 seconds

These are the results for the min power setting.

  Time to copy a 292k file 
from RAM to CF
Time to copy a 292k file
from CF to RAM
96meg CF card ~20 seconds ~12 seconds
4meg CF card ~13 seconds ~7 seconds

The larger the card, the more benefit that you seen from the max speed
setting.

I do find it a little funny that this application is called FAFileMover when
it doesn’t let you MOVE files, it just lets you COPY files. 

The FAUtil application lets you test the CF card, quick format it, full
format it and view the info log. I’m not exactly sure what the Test function
does. When you choose it, it sits there for awhile and then comes back and says
that it passed and asks if you want to perform write tests and it does the same
thing. It would be nice if it could give you a little more info.

CSpotRun is also included on the FlashPlus
module. This is a very nice freeware DOC reader that can read DOC files directly from the CF card.
CSpotRun is one of my favorite readers and it’s a nice touch to have it
included. 


Besides those three programs, I noticed that when the FlashPlus is inserted into the Visor, a toggle menu appears in the regular Info dialog. This toggle will let you see the info of the internal Visor memory or the memory on the module. From this, I learned that the
FlashPlus actually has about 1MB of onboard memory. 915k of it being free and
unused. It would be really nice to be able to use that 915k for programs, DOC files etc.

I’m also noticed that the FlashPlus installs 35K worth of ‘stuff’ in to the
Visor’s memory. Most of it is the FlashAdapter Library which is 29K. The rest
are small 1k log and data files.

I think the FlashPlus is the best CF adapter solution to date although $50
may seem a little expensive. However, this module is plug and play which the
others aren’t. If InnoPocket can figure out a way to let users run their apps
directly from the cards and use the extra
915K, that will make this module an even better value.

Price: $49.90

Pros:
Plug and Play
CSpotRun DOC Reader included

Cons:
Not all CF cards will be recognized by this Springboard
Can’t run applications directly from the cards
915K of wasted memory in the module

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