A new project by Elegant Invention in South Bend, IN began on Kickstarter which poses the idea of a USB stick that pretends that it is an optical (CD/DVD) drive. They call it isostick, and it makes the computer believe that there is a USB flash drive and an optical drive plugged in so you can use any CD/DVD images known as ISO files.
The great idea behind this device is the ability to boot ISO files from the BIOS which would save the problem of having to make a physical disk in order to load your OS or another program without having to load up an OS. The device also comes with a read-only switch so you never have to worry about a virus making its way onto the device or overwriting the ISO files.
The device is mostly targeted towards IT people, computer technicians, and geeks in general. And as one myself I understand completely as it can rid the burden of constantly needing to create disks, carry them to client’s homes and then worry if they will get lost, scratched or just stop working. Most annoyingly is having to update your software on your disk with new updates, or patches where with an ISO file you just replace the old one and you’re done.
They have also stated that because everyone enjoys a lightshow and not suspense, they have included a bright LED in the isostick to show drive activity so you don’t have to worry if the computer has locked up or the drive isn’t working. They also make note that in case this feature might bother some people, they included a configuration option to turn the brightness down or even off if you wish.
The drawbacks are pretty simple, at the moment it can only support FAT32 file-system, which will split up ISO’s larger than 4GB, and the Optical Drive can only be formatted in FAT32 (so you can chose to make it a NTFS or other format but the optical drive portion will not work). They make note that they are not making a priority of supporting other file-systems and to not expect it too soon.
The company says that the isostick can be updated with new firmware as new features and bugs are fixed, and they have said it will be free updates for life, so it does not mean you have to donate on the kickstarter page to get lifetime updates.
At the time of writing this, the project has raised $36,891 of their initial $25,000 goal with still 22 days left to go before the project funding is over. So feel free to contribute to this project at their kickstarter page.