Percom PHD-10 Hard Disk; increased speed and convenience for IBM, Apple, and Tandy machines. (evaluation) Russ Lockwood.
If you frequently get lost in the floppy shuffle, that frustrating game of switching floppy disks to find the data you want, you have probably considered buying a hard disk drive. Percom Data offers one of several solutions to the floppy shuffle--at an attractive price--with its PHD line of hard disk drives.
We tested the PHD-10, an external 5.25" 10Mb unit that works with an IBM PC, Apple IIe, or TRS-80 Model III. Percom sells computer-specific kits to hook up the drive to a particular computer. Each kit comes with a disk controller board (called a Personality Card), a flat ribbon cable to link the board to the drive, appropriate documentation, and a set of utility programs to format, section, and boot the drive.
Practically every hard disk drive on the market works as advertised. The main feature we look for in a hard disk drive, therefore, is ease of set-up and operation, with secondary emphasis on customer support. Percom scores well on both counts.
We tried the drive on the IBM PC first. The entire set-up procedure, from box to operation, took us less than 30 minutes. No kidding: board in, cable attached, formatted, sectioned, and available in under 30 minutes. We transferred several files, ran some programs, and created files on the hard disk without problem. We also appreciated the difference in speed and noise between the PHD and a floppy drive; waiting time and distraction were reduced substantially. Customer Support
Our test with an Apple IIe proved to be more difficult. At first the computer refused to believe that the hard disk drive was attached. Several attempts later, we found that the two pieces of hardware were still not speaking to each other. We had emptied the IIe of all expansion boards except the Percom board and the floppy drive controller board and could think of nothing else that might be interfering with communication. So we decided to test Percom's customer support team.
In short, the customer support team passed with flying colors. They provided step-by-step instructions on installing the PHD. The trick was to switch the floppy drive controller board from slot six to slot four and pay close attention to the sequence of utility programs and selection of options within the utilities.
We did not test the drive with the TRS-80 Model III. However, based on our experience with the IBM PC and Apple IIe, we are sure that the drive works just as well on the Tandy machine. We are also sure that if the Model III proves as cantankerous as the IIe, a quick call to customer support will solve any problems. Documentation
If there are any nits to pick, it is with the documentation. While we had no trouble with the IBM manuals, the Apple versions could use a little work. We wish they were as clear as the instructions from the customer support staff.
In time, you may find 10Mb to be in-adequate for your storage needs. Percom anticipated the ever increasing storage needs of micro users and designed the PHD to be expandable. You do not even have to relinquish your original drive to upgrade. Up to three additional PHD drives can be tacked on to the original drive, creating a system large enough for those with even the most voracious storage appetites.
All in all, we were impressed with the Percom Data PHD drive. It proved to be fairly easy to install, versatile enough for three computer systems, expandable, backed by excellent customer support, and attractively priced for an external hard disk drive. If you are considering buying a hard disk drive, take a look at a PHD drive; it could release you from the floppy shuffle forever.
Products: Percom PHD-10 (computer apparatus)