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NETAC 1GB triple bootable U320 review


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Netac's latest U320 is a USB 2.0 high speed flash drive with Ultra-Stable technology. Actually the U320 is the successor of the Netac's famous U230 and lost a third of its original (16g) weight now with only 10g. Ultra-stable technology is the patent-protected technology developed by NETAC and provides even more protection against data or disk corruption upon accidentally unplug or power off during data transfer.

This would not have been worth a review as the market is flooded with hundreds of this kind, so what's more important, it's triple bootable and supports USB-HDD, USB-ZIP and USB-FDD booting in case your Laptop's System BIOS doesn't have USB-Bootability properly implemented or was castrated by Laptop engineers :) You can decide with help of a switch which mode is used. The bootmode switch was abandonded and replace by a write protection switch (turn off turn on).

Obviously it should totally replace the cumbersome Floppy Disk handling. The reason why NETAC calls it U320 OnlyDisk.

u320-2.jpg

http://www.netac.com/products_show/storage_u320.htm

After formatting with HP's USB stick tool and putting the HD tool mhdd on it, i rebooted and found it does NOT boot as other sticks i tried. I could have done with hours of testing different format styles, but i decided to triple check the specs and compare it with the predecessor U230... Surprisingly Netac has apparantly decided to get rid of USB-FDD boot possibiilty and replaced it with the USB-CDROM one. Which is sad for every veteran Laptop owner who wants to once-and-for-all sell their USB floppy drive at Ebay.

Summarized, the following boot modes are supported by U230

• USB-HDD

• USB-ZIP

• USB-FDD

while new U320 features

• USB-HDD

• USB-ZIP

• USB-CDROM

So you'll get more compatibility with the old U230.

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Thanks to user http://forums.laptopvideo2go.com/index.php?showuser=1477 Splat and the later "Guest" who gave the important hint of NETAC's superb boot capabilties.

About Netac

OnlyDisk was invented in 1999 by the founders of Netac Technology Co., Ltd (Deng Guoshun, "Father of USB disks" and Cheng Xiaohua). The patents are protected by the state law in China and pending worldwide (visit here for patent details). Netac is now suing Sony and its OEM factory in China for violating the patent. Unrivalled in the quality control and exclusive features, Netac is trusted by many world famous companies, including IBM, Microsoft, Dell, HP, Fujitsu, Toshiba, NEC, Hitachi, Epson and even MoD in UK.

Mr. Deng has worked as an IT engineer in Legend Group in China (now Lenovo/IBM) and later in Philips Electronics Singapore. Since 1998, he started to develop with his former colleague in Philips, Mr. Cheng, the technology of USB interfaced removable flash memory disk, which later has brought the biggest ever revolution to the data storage industry.

Here are some of the major milestones in Netac's development:

1999:

May -- Netac was founded in Shenzhen. Netac started to produce and market its USB removable disks under the patent and the brand name of "OnlyDisk".

Nov -- Mr. Deng and Mr. Cheng applied the patent in China.

2000

Mar -- OnlyDisks were first shown in CeBit, Hannover.

Apr -- Mr. Deng and Mr. Cheng applied the patent in Europe and worldwide.

Dec -- Netac’s OnlyDisk was recommended by IBM as a unique mobile storage product for “IBM Solutions of Wireless Application”.

2001

Feb -- Netac released 1Gb capacity OnlyDisks.

Mar -- Netac started business with Weast. OnlyDisks were since introduced into UK and Europe.

Jun -- Netac released Driverless OnlyDisks.

Aug -- Netac released Bootable OnlyDisks, which can boot from USB Hard Disk.

2002

Jan -- Netac released Dual Bootable OnlyDisks, which can boot the system from USB Hard Disk or USB USB Floppy Disk. This technology is regarded as the final solution to replace the floppy drives.

-- Netac released patent pending USB CF Card, which eliminates the need of card readers.

Aug -- Netac released USB2.0 OnlyDisk based on the USB2.0 specification developed by Intel with reading 6Mb/s and writing 2Mb/s.

Sept -- Netac launched legal battles against some major IT companies and manufacturers in China for producing similar products as Netac’s OnlyDisk under the patent law.

Dec -- Netac released Secure III OnlyDisks, the most stable flash memory disk in the industry with secure and non-secure zone separated physically (the capacities are self- definable).

-- Rewarded 'Best Brand in the Year' and 'Technology Innovation' by China Computer Paper and 'Best Product of the Year' by Computer World and 'Consumer Satisfactory Prize ' by Micro Computer

2003

Jan -- Netac and Acer signed the Reconciliatory Agreement in Beijing on the Netac’s patent of USB flash memory storage.

-- Awarded ISO 9001 2000 Certificate.

Mar -- Released Ultra Stable USB OnlyDisks, USB MP3 players

Apr -- Netac covered 50.06% of market share in China.

Jul -- Netac produced its own USB Flash Drive Controller "U-chip"

Netac announced the new industrial standard for removable technology and data safety of USB flash memory: U-SAFE.

Aug -- Awarded the Special Golden Prize for China Patents and Golden Prize for China Patents by China International Patent and Brand Association

Sept -- Netac was authorized the patent of "A Multi-functional Semi-conductor Storage Device" in China.

Dec -- Netac was rewarded as one of best exporters in USB flash drive by Global Source in Hong Kong

2004

Jan -- Netac adopted ERP management system, powered by SAP.

Feb -- Netac released CrossBox, a USB2.0 PC-to-PC data transfer cable.

Mar -- Netac announced Wu Wei, Miss China Universe 2003, as the endorser for all Netac products in 2004.

May -- Netac celebrated its 5th Anniversary from 2 young inventors with USD 35,000 looking for venture capitals in 1999 to 400 more employees (including 100 more engineers) with USD 60 millions annual sales in 2004.

June -- Netac won legal cases against Beijing Huaqi Information and Didital Technology Co. Ltd and its OEM factories for violating Netac's patent right. The defendants were sentenced to stop with immediate effect manufacturing and selling USB flash drives, including flash memory based MP3 players with USB connectors.

Oct -- Netac announced legal action against Sony and its OEM factory in China for violating Netac's patent right. Netac asked for $1.21 million compensation. This is the first major legal proceeding by a Chinese technology company against a major multi-national company.

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Lovely! Looks like a solution to all of your boot problems! So you ordered one? If so for how much?

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  • 2 weeks later...

The USB Mass Storage Working Group is preparing a specification on booting USB devices to enable booting from USB within the industry. Boot from USB has become a highly requested feature. Both USB flash drive (UFD) and USB CD-ROM drives are in a position to pave the way of new booting features on USB. Enabling users to boot from UFD and USB CD-ROM requires industry-wide cooperation to ensure good user experiences with these devices.

The most interesting applications for booting from a USB device focus on operating system deployment, system recovery, and system maintenance. Key scenarios, listed below, are explored later in this document:

? Operating system installation/deployment scenario

? Floppy disk drive replacement

? System diagnostics tools

? Disk duplication/manipulation (for example, partitioning and formatting utilities)

To date, Microsoft has received many requests for boot support for the USB flash drive (UFD). Many OEMs and IHVs have designated UFDs as the next replacement for floppy disk drives, but some in the industry are not ready to declare UFDs a true floppy disk drive replacements until the drives can boot an operating system like floppy disk drives today. Given the faster data transfers, higher capacities, and other technological gains of UFDs, many in the industry believe that the ability to boot to an operating system would truly allow the industry to move from floppy disk drives to UFDs.

The capacities of UFDs are growing rapidly. Within a few years, they will surpass the storage capabilities of CD-ROMs as the price per MB continues to decline. UFDs can be used like fast, light, removable hard drives, and the user scenarios that are the most interesting, beyond floppy disk drive alternatives, come from the possibility of creating alternative methods of booting a computer for deployment and recovery purposes.

Plugging in a UFD to add another bootable disk allows for easy operating system deployment, recovery, and the ability to run disk manipulation utilities that cannot or should not be run from the disk or partitions they are manipulating. Some of the compelling scenarios to boot off UFD are explained in detail below.

? Operating system installation/deployment scenario - Mobile platforms or low-profile desktop systems may ship without embedded floppy disk drives. Having a bootable UFD with an OEM pre-installation environment dramatically simplifies the task of OS installation. This is a valuable scenario for the OEM and for corporate IT administrators or the home consumer seeking to deploy or redeploy an operating system.

? System diagnostic tools - IT managers may need to run system utilities on a machine without starting the operating system, or to recover a system with a non-starting operating system. For systems that do not have a bootable floppy/CDROM and lack Preboot eXecution Environment (PXE) bootability, booting off UFDs is both compelling and simple. IT managers can also carry their system diagnostic tools on a 512 MB UFD and perform their tests easily. This is a valuable scenario for corporate consumers or the home consumer seeking to recover data from a non-bootable system.

? Disk duplication/manipulation/verification - Disk partitioning and formatting utilities need to run before operating system startup or from another operating system. It is possible to boot off a UFD that also contains partitioning utilities or other diagnostic utilities. It is also possible to include a virus checker on a read-only UFD for disk verification purposes. This is a valuable scenario for the OEM and for corporate consumers or the home consumer seeking to configure or reinstall the operating system for deployment or recovery.

http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/device/storage/usb-boot.mspx

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  • 2 months later...

I got it, but it cannot/will not work, as it's missing a vital feature :)

According to the specs i got at some point it features TripleBoot like the predecessor, so assuming that the more improved version also has USB-ZIP, USB-HD and USB-FDD i ordered it.

No, no, no. I should have REread the specs again (which i actually did, but apparantly without the proper attention to the details).

Instead of USB-FDD (the important one), NETAC for some reason replaced it with USB-CDROM booting capabilities.

Anyways now i got the U230 in 128MB size from www.weast.co.uk which is recognized by XP as Floppy Disk, but i hadn't had the time to fully test the real world DOS booting :)

A never ending story........ and now with WorldCup watching each day 2 games and great summer in Berlin i cannot exercise the patience for that.

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