Toshiba’s MobilPhile full review
11/22/02 by Angel Lee

How does that ‘ol saying go . . . “time will tell”. Back in early August, after waiting endlessly for the continuously “postponed” MobilPhile to arrive from Toshiba, our initial impressions right from the box was that it was "sooooo cool." Seeing it for the first time, handling it, ejecting the neat 5GB PC Card HDD were all we could do, but we really couldn’t use it you see.

The Toshiba MobilPhile is USB 2.0 and well there just aren’t many notebook PC’s out there with this vastly over rated “high speed” port. In fact, we not only didn’t have any new evaluation PC notebook here with USB 2.0, we also don’t have a desktop PC with USB 2.0 either! To top that, when we called Toshiba to borrow a notebook with USB 2.0, they told us they don’t make any. Huh!? Toshiba still doesn’t have a notebook with USB 2.0 as of December 2002 and most PC notebooks don’t either. But, nearly all have Firewire!

We tried to make do with attempting to transfer MP3, WMA or WAV files to the MobilPhile using a variety of USB 1.1 equipped notebooks from HP, IBM and Sony. Some balked, the rest were so painfully slow at the 12 Mb/sec transfers rate we quit. We then tried a USB 2.0 CardBus card from KeySpan in a new HP Omnibook X3E-GF and the Toshiba “Audio Application” made the system crash on transfer

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attempts, the same happened when we put an after-market USB 2.0 PCI cards in our Tech Lab PC’s. We were quickly becoming very disillusioned.

The only way we could get music files into the MobilPhile, was by putting the 5GB PC Card HDD from the MobilPhile directly into a notebooks PC Card slot. Transfers were still horribly slow. Remember that the PC Card HDD is only 16 bit, even if the CardBus slot is 32 bit. bar
First you’ll have to rip your tunes using Windows Media Player, hardly the most efficient application around.......
Fortunately, two weeks later a new Compaq Presario 1510US arrived for our “Life with only a notebook, PC or Mac” article series, it had two USB 2.0 ports. (As a footnote, of the five high-end notebooks in that article, only the Compaq comes with USB 2.0, all but one had Firewire!)

Finally we could move music files the way Toshiba had intended it to, but what a laborious path it takes compared to the iPod and iTunes. First you’ll have to rip your tunes using Windows Media Player, hardly the most efficient application around and Toshiba leaves you no alternative here.

It would be nice if you could then copy those file right to the MobilPhile, but oh-no! You must use the Toshiba “Audio Application” to encrypt those music files and boy is it slow! In fact, we dragged the same file directly to the MobilPhile without using the “Audio Application” (they won’t play) as did using it and the time difference was nearly 22 time slower using Toshiba’s mandatory Audio Application to encrypt the music files! It basically meant you were worse off than using USB 1.1.


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