Manufacturer: Castlewood Systems Inc.
Price: $199 US for drive $29.95 US per disk
Reviewer: Patrick Lambert
In the past few years, I have bought a lot of hard drives for various reasons. From testing to storing Internet downloads and archiving, I always needed more disk space. When I began looking at the available removable media devices, I wasn't impressed. Most contained only a few hundred megabytes and were very expensive. Then I came across the ORB. The ORB is both inexpensive and contains a good amount of data (2.2GB per disk, which can compress up to 6GB). A month later, I was buying a parallel port ORB device and two disks.
The Castlewood ORB is a device capable of supporting removable disks containing 2.2GB of data. The ORB comes in several versions:
The ORB is advertised as a good way to store important data, have portable information, store digital images and other media, back up a hard disk and store Internet downloads. The manual specifies that a Pentium 100 or better system is required.
I bought the ORB from one of the on-line resellers and received it in less than a week. The ORB box is quite large and contains the ORB drive, a disk full of utilities, an interface cable, a power supply, a user manual and an installation floppy. The drive is nice and looks modern on a desk. It is black with a small door for the disk on the front. The ORB power supply is like any other power supply, appearing very common. The interface cable is very short (about two feet), and you cannot use a normal printer cable to link the drive to the PC. The drive has an output port to connect a printer. The manual recommends that no other parallel device be used with the ORB and the printer.
One thing I found out is that even if they include a removable disk in the package, you actually need to buy another one since the included disk has 1.6GB of tools on it.
The installation floppy contains drivers for various systems, including Windows 98, Windows 3.x and DOS. The included media has the following Windows tools:
ORB Tools: a set of tools and utilities used to manage the drive, eject a disk, scan the drive and other similar functions.
1-Click Backup: a full system backup can be done with this utility by right clicking on the ORB's drive letter.
Advanced Backup: this full suite of backup tools is for professional users.
Duplicator: this tool allows you to duplicate multiple ORB disks.
tracker: tracks your files on all your disks.
Rescue: this small utility lets you restore your boot drive in emergency situations.
The disks come formatted in FAT16, which is readable and writable by Linux, DOS and Windows. They can be partitioned and re-formatted like normal hard disks.
The installation in Windows was very easy. When inserting the driver's floppy, you can install the drive in less than 30 seconds. The ORB device will then appear as a drive letter, seen from Windows as a removable hard disk. Installing the tools provides all kinds of interesting functions, including backups and a software-based eject button.
One thing I noticed is that when the RealPlayer is running and I insert a disk in the drive, then try to access it from Windows Explorer, it hangs the system. This may be a bug in the ORB driver, the RealPlayer or both.
Easy to use
Large storage size
Lots of software
Works with Linux, OS/2, DOS and Windows
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