The premise here is that flash memory cards are expensive when compared to a 40MB Clik! disk that costs about $10 or less. When you travel on vacation or have to shoot a lot of pictures you only need one or two flash memory cards, a Clik! mobile drive and a handful of the 40MB Clik! disks.
The Clik! Drive unit shown here can only be used with Windows PC computers as the
Docking station interfaces to the computer via the parallel printer port. Iomega
has since come out with a newer USB Clik! drive as well as a PCMCIA Clik! drive too.
The parallel port units are now being liquidated on the net (check with www.Ubid.com)
for incredibly cheap prices - I bought this one for $19 brand new!
The Clik! disks are really just miniature, 2-inch diameter Bernoulli drive
cartridges. The storage capacity is 40MB for each disk. In operation the tiny
Clik! drive is almost completely silent. The included NiMH battery pack snaps onto
the belly of the drive and allows completely portable operation anywhere you want to go.
The Clik! Drive is completely modular in design. When used as a portable device you
attach the Card Reader to the end of the drive and then insert either a CompactFlash
or Smartmedia card (16MB or smaller) into the appropriate slot.
Copying files from your flash card couldn't be easier, slip it into the slot and then press the button next to the LCD display. The unit will check the Clik! disk first and then begin copying files as indicated by the picture of the LCD above.
During the copy process there are little arrows that blink between the icon of the flash card and the Clik! disk. The amount of space used on the Clik! disk is continuously displayed by the "%" number on the right. If the disk is full it dislays "nr" for No Room. There are other errors indications that can be displayed as well.
The important thing to remember is that these disks can only hold 40MB of data so you
cannot use a flash card larger than 40MB unless you're sure that it only has 40MB
or less of image data on it. You can not copy only a portion of the flash card's
contents, this is an "all or nothing" copy process.
When you get home you disconnect the
Card Reader portion and then slip the Clik! drive into the Docking Station. This
charges the NiMH battery in about 2 hours and interfaces the Clik! drive into
your computer's parallel printer port. You can plug your printer into the piggy-back
parallel connector but the Clik! drive and printer cannot be used simultaneously.
This is the Software utility supplied with the Clik! drive. From here you can check or
format the drive as well as copy files to your hard drive.
One of the functions of the Iomega software is to give you important information about
the disk itself. Here you can see the type (40MB), status (protected / unprotected),
the very important Disk Life and Format Life percentages -- these disks do not last
forever, they have a very finite life span and can only be reused just so many times.
Copying image files can be done using the familiar Windows Explorer interface.
I put 15MB of pictures on a 16MB Lexar CF card and copied them to the Clik! disk in about a minute and a half. That translates to a transfer speed right at about 10MB per minute from flash cards to the Clik! disk.
Copying Clik! disks to the
computer's hard drive is going to depend on several factors; (1) how fast your computer
and hard drive is and (2) how fast your parallel port is. The optimum transfer speed
will be attained if the parallel port is set to EPP (enhanced parallel port) mode.
What comes in the box? The Clik! Drive, the Docking Station, AC power adapter,
NiMH rechargeable battery pack, Flash Card Reader, 40MB Clik! Disk, leather carrying
case with belt clip, user manuals, utility software and drivers on CD-ROM.
Steve's ConclusionThe Clik! Digital Camera drive reviewed here is now about a year and a half old and Iomega has now discontinued it. Iomega is selling a whole line of other devices that use the same 40MB disks including a USB interface drive, a PCMCIA interface drive and a PCMCIA adapter for using the disks directly in a laptop's card slot. So what happened to the Clik! Digital Camera drive?
When it first came out my initial reaction was "too little, too late." Too little storage capacity at only 40MB a disk and too late to the market. Flash card prices were already dropping and the only real capacity limits were with the 64MB SmartMedia cards. The Clik! drive won't work with 32MB (or larger) SmartMedia cards or CompactFlash cards larger than 32MB unless you have less than 40MB of data on them.
The Clik! Digital Camera Drive when it first came out was priced around $300 and I didn't see it as a being very cost-effective at that price. Now it is being liquidated by the likes of www.UBid.com, I picked up several of them for only $19 each brand new. Heck of a deal considering the 40MB Clik! disks are about $10 each and there's one included in the package -- so I got the rest of the gear for just $9 !!!
The package itself was really well done. The Clik! drive is a marvel of miniaturization and modular design. It is well crafted and all of the pieces snap together securely and work as advertised. The Docking Station works OK with my Windows 98 SE machine but requires that the Clik! drive be in the cradle on bootup. The data transfer rate is rather slow via the parallel port, Iomega decided against a USB upgrade and has created the FotoShow Digital Image Center instead. The FotoShow device is not battery operated but it is small, somewhat portable and uses 100MB or 250MB ZIP disks, it does work with larger SmartMedia cards and it interfaces to the computer via the fast USB port.
The Clik!'s battery tneds to lose its charge fairly quickly when just sitting so it is a real good idea to charge it the night before you need it. I'd say you'll get about 5 or 6 transfers per charge on average. The biggest problem with the Clik! drive is that it gives you almost no feedback during the transfer process other than telling you that it is doing it and how much space is left on the disk. It doesn't even tell you when it's done, it just quits copying. And worst of all there is no way to check the files that have been transfered except when it is connected to the computer. And if you have an aborted copy process there is no way to format the Clik! disk in the field - this is a real shortcoming and one that will get you sooner or later.
Besides the utility software and the Windows drivers Iomega has also put a copy of their
Photo Printer software on the CD. You can view and print your JPEG or BMP image files.
All in all the Clik! drive is still a useful device for those that only have one or two
small flash cards and the need to store more images during a trip. If you want one though
you better grab it soon as they're going fast at this drastically discounted price and
probably won't last long. Even at these give-away prices the Clik! Digital Camera Drive
is still more of a curiosity than a true utility. My answer is to just buy larger flash
cards or invest in a laptop - they're getting cheaper all the time!
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