Storage device maker
unveiled its line of products to Mac users at Macworld Expo earlier this month, and one of the more interesting offerings was the FireWire KeyChain. The diminutive device offers FireWire-based flash memory storage. Today the company announced that when the FireWire KeyChain officially launches in March, it’ll be even smaller and less expensive than originally indicated.
The FireWire KeyChain has been changed as a result of user feedback at the expo, according to WiebeTech president James Wiebe. “We listened to potential users of the product and have improved the product offering in order to satisfy their requests for user configurable units and even more compact size,” he said.
Although many devices have been released which enable users to copy files to a keychain-sized apparatus through USB, the FireWire KeyChain is one of the first to utilize FireWire to do so. Bus-powered, the FireWire KeyChain utilizes CompactFlash-based flash memory storage and Oxford Semiconductor’s popular Oxford 911 bridge chipset. The FireWire KeyChain is fast enough to stream video, as evidenced by demonstrations given by WiebeTech during the show, and because it uses CompactFlash storage media, users can add up to 1GB of total capacity.
The installation of the CompactFlash card can either be done by dealers or by end-users, according to WiebeTech — the FireWire KeyChain sports a bottom plate that can be easily removed. Although the company originally planned to ship the device in a number of preconfigured capacities, they’ve since decided to ship the FireWire KeyChain without a storage module at all — that way they’ve been able to keep the price down to US$99.95.
WiebeTech has also reduced the size of the FireWire KeyChain — it’s now 1.75 x 2.35 x .75 inches. “This makes the module easier to carry in a pocket and attach to a keychain,” noted the company.
Expect to see WiebeTech begin shipping the FireWire KeyChain before the end of March. It’ll be available from dealers in the U.S. and Canada, as well as directly from the WiebeTech Web site.
Following our initial publication of this article, WiebeTech provided a FAQ which details answers to some questions our readers have already asked. Those details have been outlined below.
WiebeTech said that IBM MicroDrives — 1GB hard disk drives which fit CompactFlash Type II interfaces — are currently unsupported.
The unit has been demonstrated booting an iBook using Mac OS 9.2. WiebeTech said that booting under Mac OS X has not yet been tested; it also noted that a Mac OS X 10.1.2 installation would occupy most of the space on a 1GB CompactFlash card.
Macs running Mac software earlier than Mac OS 9.2 will need a special driver, which WiebeTech plans to make available on their Web site.
The FireWire KeyChain’s case is molded from aluminum, and can be engraved if you’d like to customize it or offer it as a corporate gift.
WiebeTech president James Wiebe indicated the FAQ would be posted to their Web site later today. It contains additional technical information and performance specifications not outlined below, so please visit the Web site for full details.