ISOStick, USB Memory Überstick…

USB memory sticks have been with us for a while now, like the crocodile of the gadget world they have remained unchanged for what seems like an eternity. This may be about to change with the introduction of the new Über memory stick.

Designed by Elegant Invention for IT professionals, computer technicians, noids and boffins, generally anyone who has found themselves carrying multiple memory sticks or a wad of DVD’s to install operating systems or solve that IT emergency. ISOStick comes to the rescue by rolling all of the functions you require into one nice little unremarkable looking USB stick.

In order for a gadget to achieve the Über classification it must push the limits in some way, be unnecessarily extreme. The ISOStick’ s bag of tricks include, the ability to appear as a virtual DVD-Rom that can use any ISO file as a disk in the drive, switch disks with a button on the USB stick, read-only mode for virus proof safety, upgradeable firmware, completely configurable settings file and flashing RGB LED.

When plugged into a machine the ISOStick appears as two drives, a standard USB memory card and a DVD-ROM with the selected ISO file appearing to be a disk inserted in the drive, ISO files are a single file version of any CD or DVD that your read in and convert to a file, an ISO file. In most situations a combination of windows software and the right memory stick can achieve similar results, but with a lot more work and frustration. If an operating system install spans multiple DVD ISO files installing from memory stick can be a little laborious, after each disc has finished installing you will need to take the USB to a computer, tell the USB the new ISO to use then go back to installing, repeat until finished. ISOStick makes it easy, just tap the button on the ISOStick and the next ISO will be loaded into the virtual DVD-ROM and off you go, no removing the USB required. ISOStick is the most advanced USB device for working with ISO files, hands down.

The ISOStick may look like any other generic USB stick but its whats under the skin that makes all the difference. Using a 32bit microcontroller – Atmel’s 32-bit AVR UC3A3 – as the brains of the operation turns the ISOStick from dumb USB stick to a smart ISOStick. The firmware is updatable with future updates to include support for other file systems – NTFS, the current firmware only supports FAT32 file system -, along with new image formats and boot options. Transfer speeds are quoted at 12.5MB/sec for reads and 4-6MB/sec writes, equivalent to 81x and 9.5x CD/DVD speeds respectively. All settings for the firmware are held in an .INI file – a text file suffixed .INI instead of .TXT – in the main directory of the memory stick. You can alter the settings at anytime and as soon as the changes are saved they will take effect. You can for example turn off the flashing transfer light or change its colour simply by changing the appropriate line in the INI file.

Even the standard memory stick functions are pushed a little further with the ISOStick, to make day-to-day use safer the ISOStick has a Read-Only mode built into the system. Integrated at the hardware level the memory is fully locked down in this mode. This makes it safe even when using the memory stick in a virus infected PC’s, no more catching a virus by plugging into the wrong machines.

Elegant Inventions has reached full funding for the ISOStick with Kickstarter, the backing will be finalised August 21st. The response online has been very positive, they achieved full funding 24 days before their Kickstarter deadline. While the initial production run of 250 has pre-sold the first production run after funding will be larger and orders can be placed now. ISOSticks cost $100 for an 8GB stick, $175 for a 16GB stick, and $225 for the 32GB drive, check the site for delivery to your part of the world.

ISOStick is the swiss army knife of USB sticks with many tricks up its sleeve, the noid toolbox is about to shrink thanks to one nifty gadget, no more lugging DVD’s and USB DVD drives, no more need for multiple USB sticks for different purpose. One memory stick to rule them all. Time to get writing some home-brew custom firmware.

Further information at ISOStick’s Kickstarter Page, Elegant Invention Blog