The Fujitsu DynaMO 1300 U2 Pocket is an external Magnet-Optical drive for PCs and servers with a USB 2.0 power and data connection. It uses 3.5 inch form factor disks which come in cartridges similar to 100/250MB Zip disks. These are nominally 1.3GB in size but become 1.15GB when formatted.

Installation is a breeze. Install the device driver and additional software from a CD: it takes all of two minutes. Restart the PC. Connect the drive with the USB 2.0 cable and wait while Windows XP detects new hardware, etc. A minute or so later My Computer shows a new removable drive option. Load a cartridge in the drive, remembering the slant corner is on the front left-hand side of the cartridge facing the drive entrance, and wait a few seconds while the drive detects and verifies it.

Now you have an unformatted MO disk. Right-click on the drive icon in My Computer and select format. Six minutes later you have 1.15GB of space ready for use. Not too bad. I transferred 0.99MB to it and this took 54 minutes which equates to 0.3MB/sec. It is not fast. But it works, which is more than can be said for transferring the same folder to a 40GB Amacom external hard drive where the transfer often stops because of I/O errors.

What would we use such an MO drive for, bearing in mind that MO disks are typically used for archiving. It holds around twice as much as an average CD, ten times more than a 100MB Zip disk and 500 times more than a 2MB USB thumb drive. It also holds it inside a sealed cartridge which is kept inside a case, so it is more robust than a CD.

The drive is solid and well made and everything works. So if you need to hold up to 1.1gGB of information reliably in one place and transport it then this device is good news. It can work with a notebook computer but you obviously need a drive attached to whatever target computer you are going to work on if you jet across the Atlantic with it.

Transferring 1GB across a broadband link is pretty dire so the device will work well where you must have 1.1GB on one disk. You could burn the same data to two CDs and not have to take the drive with you as you travel because virtually every PC or notebook you come across these days has a CD drive. In fact many of these are CD Writers too and they write faster than this device writes and I’ve just blown a hole in the case for using an external MO drive as a general data transport mechanism. Even more so if you have DVD readers on your PCs and notebooks.

What about WORM, for greater data security? There’s only a movable write protect tab, as on the old Zip disks. A non-rewritable CD is better. Oh dear.

There is no backup software and no compression. There is special software available for viewing medical images such as X-rays so that’s a niche that could use it.

Also the drive is quite heavy, at around 400 grams, so although it will fit in a jacket pocket it may spoil the hang of your jacket.

MO technology is being superceded as an optical archive technology by Plasmon’s UDO and assorted BluRay technologies. It looks as if positioning MO devices as better data transport mediums than CDs is not generally useful either. The 2.3GB version will fare better versus CDs since you’ll need four CDs to hold what it holds, but then the writing time may well be quicker for the CDs.

But for this device, if you require that your data transport hold up to 1.15GB, that it hold it reliably – more so than CDs, and you can’t use DVDs, and that the drive works simply and properly – more so than external Amacom hard drives, then this drive is a jolly useful piece of kit. Particularly so if you need the niche medical viewing software.

OUR VERDICT

If you need data transport disks holding up to 1.15GB that are more robust than CDs or DVDs, and external hard drives are not an option, then this external MO pocket drive is a good choice. Particularly so, if you need the optional DICOM medical image viewing software.