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Hardware Mini-Review: Sony Memory Stick Floppy AdapterReturn to News Page
Sony Memory Stick Floppy Adapter
Performance Tests/Usage Comments:

Last Updated: 11/1/2000, 1:01 PM

Intro:
Today I had a chance to test the Sony Floppy Adapter for their Memory Sticks on my PB G3 wallstreet. The owner of the Sony Vaio SR17 sub-notebook (mini-review of it is here) had bought the adapter at a local store a few days ago ($40 in the returns bin, normally $79.9x) and I was curious as to how it worked in a Mac. I also compared file copy rates of a standard floppy disk and Brian's test results on a PII/366 notebook floppy drive.
Product Info/Specs:
The memory stick specs note up to 2+MB/sec read speeds on the stick itself (in the Sony notebooks and PCs with memory stick slots), but rates using the floppy adapter are much. much lower (I think around 250KB/sec is spec'd). From real world tests of actual file copy performance (noted below), even that rate is very optimistic. (Performance reading/writing to the Memory Stick slot on the SR17 were good he said, so these comments apply only to using the floppy adapter.)

Software Install:
On PCs, the floppy adapter can be written to but only reads are allowed on the Mac. The upside is the software install on the Mac is less intrusive (a single utility), whereas on the PC you're told to not use 720KB floppies after installing the driver. On the Mac all copies are done using a supplied Sony utility (no drag and drop, etc.) and disabling PC/File exchange is required they say.

Performance Tests:
With 8MB allocated to the Sony utility for the floppy adapter, I timed how long it took to copy an appx 2.6MB MP3 file from the 64MB memory stick in the floppy adapter to my PB G3/250 hard drive. It worked out to almost exactly 1MB per minute. That's just a little over 17KB per second (a 1.3MB file copy from a regular floppy resulted in appx. 29KB/sec rates on my PB). On a PC (PII/366) notebook floppy drive, the adapter copy rate was about 38KB/sec.

I'm sure the USB Memory Stick adapter would be much faster for those that have a USB port. (My Wallstreet has a floppy drive but not a USB PCcard.) The floppy interface is rated I think for appx. 500KB/sec, but like all "max spec rates", actual through-the-file-system performance (real world) is usually far less than the interface's maximum.

Observations/General Comments:
Another thing that I didn't like is that filenames are truncated to the DOS limit of 8 characters (with 3 character extension). So the files he created on the PC with long filenames were clipped with the usual ~ character on the Mac.

Another negative is the floppy adapter cannot be used with USB floppy drives according to Sony. The adapter comes with two camera type batteries and goes to sleep if unused for a short period of time. (A dialog pops up noting this, ejects the disk and prompts you to reinsert it to use it again).

The Bottom Line: The SR17 owner got lucky, finding the floppy adapter at $40 in a returns bin and a 64MB memory stick on the web for $95 (after $11 shipping). If bought at retail, the cost would have been $79.9x plus $139.9x for the 64MB memory stick. The USB memory stick adapter is $69.9x list, which a reader later reported worked well (and many times faster than the floppy adapter) on the Mac. (One dealer product page for the USB adapter noted 3MB/sec rates, which is impossible for USB which has a 12 Megabits/sec max interface - that's only 1.5 MegaBytes/sec max - not counting file IO/system overhead.)

A 64MB floppy sounds attractive, but unless you own a floppy adapter compatible Sony Mavica digital camera (which now have 2x or 4x speed floppy drives) the floppy adapter is not a very good value in my opinion.


(Update) Reader Report on USB Adapter for Memory Stick:
A reader noted the USB adapter, as I suspected, is much faster:

" Hey Mike,
I've been using the Sony Usb Memory stick reader for a few months now with my Sony 8mm Digital Camera. It lets you shoot regular photographs onto the memory sticks and it accepts 4,8,16,32, and 64 meg memory sticks. You just pop the stick out of the camera and plug it into the usb reader.

It just mounts the Stick on your desktop as a drive and you can drag and drop till your hearts content. It copies very fast, transferring 10megs of pictures took less than 20secs. To install the usb reader, you just drag 2 extensions to the extension folder and restart. The cd it comes with is mac/pc, I think for pc, you must install a program to use it, but I'm not for sure.

This is a nice way to back up files too for those who own B/W G3's, G4's, or iMac's without a floppy drive. Now if I could only afford the Sony Pen Mp3 player;-)
Great Site,
Sandy "

I don't think the pen player uses a memory stick from the one I saw at Circuit City here, but their Memory Stick Walkman does (but at $399 list, it's very expensive). Cnet liked the design, but as I noted in the Sony Vaio SR17 subnotebook review, the "MagicGate" copyright proctection is considered a negative for end users. Cnet's review of the Mem. Stick Walkman player commented on this as well.

 
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