KbooHK WDrive floppy emulator – first look

The Apple II floppy emulator options have been shrinking lately, with availability being limited to a few devices. From the CFFA 3000 last run to most other devices deprecated, there’s only two or three available right now. That’s why KbooHK coming into the Apple II community is quite welcome, and their product promises a great deal by supporting the new .Woz file format.

The Wdrive is a small device, very well designed and built, It is a real floppy replacement which acts just like that, and has a very good functionality by the use of a small LCD to select and mount floppy images. The design is simple and intuitive: a small monochrome LCD with three buttons underneath, left for moving up, center for select and right for moving down on the screen. There’s a right side button for reset.
You only need to take an SD card, format it and copy .Woz files. Then plug it into the drive and power up the computer and select the image you want to load. There is a red LED that lights up when the data is accessed.

The first tests were done in a ROM 4x Apple //c using the external drive port. Because the device is intended to emulate a real drive, and the .woz files are exact images of the original floppies, some images didn’t load, mostly by starting loading and then activating the real internal floppy, I guess looking for data.
Some of the files did boot and worked right away. I played Gumball, Wavy Navy, Rescue Raiders and Archon without a glitch. Images load fast.
I proceeded to test it in my Chinese Apple Clone CEC-E, to use the drive port directly and therefore emulate completely a floppy drive in Slot 6. All the images loaded ran perfectly.

The last test was performed using an Apple //c+, where everything loaded flawlessly. That’s because this //c model considers the external drive as a primary drive and loads without confusion. Every image I tried worked.

Overall I’m very happy with the drive, it works just like it was intended, it is well designed, small and intuitive. It even looks great with the 3D printed case, like a small UniDisk drive.
The makers of WDrive also have some online tools to convert .dsk images to .woz, .nib or .edf, making it easy to convert your images to a readable format.

If I have to mention some “negative” features (or lack of them) it will be that it doesn’t load .dsk images, but that was known since the beginning. Also, it doesn’t have advanced features like the defunct UniSDisk (which support smart port and hard disk 32MB images) or other disk formats like 800k files like the BMOW FloppyEmu. But it’s small size, lower cost and mostly the .woz support makes it stand out as not only as the most modern choice but also a very good alternative for software that otherwise will not be available anywhere – just because the new format makes exact copies keeping even the copy protection and specific drive format.

The folks at KbooHK are also continuously improving the firmware and they already announced quarter track and Spiradisk support in their upcoming update.

I recommend the drive as a new alternative and the only way (other than emulation) today to use .woz format in your real hardware.

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About the Author

Javier Rivera

I'm an apple //c fanatic, born in Mexico but living in sunny Miami, FL, the perfect place for retrobrite! I like restoring computers to bring them back to their old glory. Also like to combine new technology with vintage hardware to give new uses to them.