Iomega has announced that it is now shipping its new Peerless removable-drive system in the UK – ahead of schedule, according to the company.

Iomega claims that Peerless drives can store up to 20 hours of streaming video, “your entire CD collection, thousands of MP3s, and complete libraries of interactive video games or graphic images”.

Peerless - winner of Macworld’s Best of Show, at January’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco - is a high-speed storage medium based on IBM’s Travelstar hard disk. Iomega has taken the Travelstar, and – according to product marketing manager Lina van der Wel, to the “amazement” of IBM – separated the electronics into a base station, and the mechanics into a disk.

This separation means that the hard disk’s electronics don’t have to be built into every disk – which should save money and weight.

Station to station The £269 base station that the disks slot into is connected to the Mac or Windows PC via SCSI, USB or FireWire. At present, only USB bases are available, but Iomega told Macworld that FireWire bases would be shipping around July-August. Iomega expects SCSI bases to ship in September, with USB 2.0. Iomega presently has no plans for the forthcoming – but someway off – faster FireWire 2 standard.

Iomega claims that the FireWire model – allows sustained data-transfer rates of up to 15MB per second.

Disks - about the size of a Palm PDA – are not tied to any one interface, and can therefore be swapped between USB, FireWire and other interfaces. 10GB disks cost £159, and 20GB are priced at £199 each. The disk is fully sealed, eliminating the risk of dust contamination.

The Peerless base station is also sold, with a 20GB disk for £399.

Look out for Macworld’s Peerless review online – soon.