Iomega unveiled a smaller, sleeker, and more portable member of its 250MB Zip drive family yesterday at the Seybold Seminars conference.

The new drive, scheduled to be available in October, comes in a USB external version, joining the SCSI external and USB internal models.

The newest Zip drive will sell for a US$179.95 list price and features a smaller, sleeker, and more portable design. The translucent blue drive measures 4.6 inches wide by 6.7 inches deep by 1 inch thick. It weighs 9.1 ounces, or 15.3 ounces with its AC adapter. UK pricing has not yet been announced.

Iomega also offers an optional PC Card interface for the Zip 250 USB. Because the PC Card interface provides power to the drive, eliminating the need for the AC adapter, the company expects the option to be popular with users of portable computers, says Michael Ludgate, the company's director of new product marketing.

The PC Card cable costs $39.95 or comes packaged with the drive for $209.95. The drive and PC Card adapter together weigh 13.4 ounces. (But connecting the Zip using this option will also drain the laptop's battery more quickly.)

The Zip 250 USB ships with a single 250MB disk. Additional disks cost about $16.50 at retail prices when purchased in six-packs. Like other Iomega Zip 250 drives, the Zip 250 USB can read and write 100MB or 250MB Zip disks.

Software shipped with the drive includes QuikSync for backing up files, RecordIt for recording and playing audio files, and IomegaWare 2.1, a suite of utilities and drivers.