How to make a laptop ACT like an external USB/firewire drive?

I am considering purchasing a laptop, and notice that many BIOSes nowadays recognize external USB devices as hard drives/etc.

I am interested in taking advantage of this feature and rather than buying a dedicated external USB drive,  just purchasing a laptop and finding a way to use that as an external USB host drive.

Perfect example of a use of this might be using a hard drive recovery software on 1 machine (while not having to boot into Win XP), and having my laptop plugged in via USB and be detected as an external hard drive.  I need this feature for this purpose, as of course I know how to do host-host networking via ethernet, wireless ethernet, USB-USB networking in XP, etc. already.  What I need is my laptop to act and appear as a simple USB external hard drive to another machine, on a raw level.

Are there any products that do this? or is a USB (A-A I think) cable all I need?  I am assuming this isn't possible, but perhaps some consultant out there uses his laptop as an external drive when in a squeeze instead of bringing along an external drive.

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why not just use the NIC and map the drive on the LapTop to a local drve on the desktop, and away you go. No software, not overhead, just map the drive

first things first, I'm fairly certain that this isn't easily accomplished nor are there pre-packaged software to do so, simply because all you really need as stated above, is a crossover cable.  

I think what you're looking for is a USB hard drive enclosure. Essentially, A drive controller board attached to a USB cable and any IDE hard drive you might have lying around. They come in various sizes for anything from a cdrom drive to laptop hard drvice and cost many many many times less than a laptop. you plug it in and voila! instant external hard drive. you can pick an enclosure up for about 40 dollars and a hard drive is easy enough to buy/find/scrounge.
I agree with both replies.

seems like you are doing it the extremly hardway. waste of time really.

If you want a good soluction, by an I-POD, 20gig usb mas storage device. $450 AUS, got one just a few days ago. very very easy and you can listen to music will you travel :)
Old Mac PowerBook Duo's did this, via SCSI. It was extremely handy to connect them to another system for installs or just for instant access & transfer of your files. Then disconnect the "special" cable and the thing's a laptop again. Especially handy in those days since net connections were less common and much slower. The feature died out with the Duo line and I haven't seen it in others (PC or Mac) since. Admittedly, whie the feature rocked for most users it created some confusion among technically challenged.

If I were you I'd get comfortable with the networking solution. It's available for all NIC'd PC's and it works, albeit not as quickly. With a fast connection and DHCP it's almost as convenient.

If your laptop's drive is easily accessed you _might_ consider swapping it to an external enclosure for extended operations. I do that on occassion for things like partition imaging or full defrags.

For mobile transfer operations now I rely on USB memory sticks or for multi-GB stuff use 2.5" HD's in USB/1394 enclosures. Net connections are third unless a friendly network is available.

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