The device I ordered was US $29 and shipping was $8.90 for FedEx ground. It was ordered on April 4, shipped on April 6, and arrived on April 11. I purchased the "two slot" variety, hoping I could use one CF card for storage and another for a page file and hibernate area.
First we'll cover the device and installation in this video:
The unit was tested with three different CF cards: A PQI 100x 8GB card, a SanDisk Ultra II 2GB card, and a Transcend 120X 2GB card. Right away, some advice left in my comments from another excellent UMPC blogger (JKK) rang true: The SanDisk card, in either slot, prevented the system from booting. The error: Operating System Not Found. It seems that compatible cards are a kind of hit-or-miss.
The second disappointment was apparent quickly: For some reason, I was having problems when I had a card in the 2nd slot. While my POST screen showed the presence of a primary and secondary drive, Windows sat at the "loading screen" forever and never passed it. Windows would enter Safe Mode and I was able to partition and format the second drive, but never booted into a normal environment. I am going to blame my BIOS for this: Clearly the UMPC BIOS was never intended to have a secondary drive attached. In the BIOS configuration screens, it only showed the presence of a Primary IDE drive even though POST showed both.
Since there was no way to get Windows to install on a 2GB card from my restore DVDs, I was stuck using the 8GB card exclusively. Once in that environment, Windows felt a bit sluggish. Testing results follow:
Battery Life Test:
Test method: Using the standard 3 cell battery, I ran Battery Eater Pro in "idle" mode, started Windows Media Player with a looping playlist of six music videos (stored on the desktop,) turned the volume off, set the power savings to "always on," disconnected all USB devices, and let it run until it automatically entered "sleep." 40 GB Toshiba drive: 94 minutes of video playback until sleep.
Adapter with 8GB PQI card: 102 minutes.
While the difference is only 8 minutes, that test scenario was heavy on CPU power and display backlighting. 8 minutes from a 94 minute base is an additional 8.5%.
Test method: Used DiskSpeed 32 with the AC plugged in.
CompactFlash card: 13,462 KB/sec average
HDD: 26,164 KB/sec average
The CompactFlash card I chose averaged half the transfer rate of the hard drive.
- Smaller and lighter than IDE hard drives.
- More shock resistant.
- Slightly increasted battery life.
- Slower (depending on card chosen)
- Much higher cost per GB
- Lower storage ceiling.
If you really want a solid state UMPC, it's best to buy an SSD drive intended for computing use and not attempt to use CF cards. In paraphrasing the advice from JKK, you can't expect any old CompactFlash card to perform comparable to a real SSD hard drive. Companies like SuperTalent offer drop-in IDE replacements that are meant to be used in this environment.