Floppy drives go head to head


Two of the latest USB floppy drives to be created for iMac and the new blue-&-white G3 Macs, are the TEAC USB floppy drive and Newer Technology’s uDrive Although the iMac is geared for Internet use and lets you easily send files larger than a floppy disk can hold, there are many users who still have a need for these disks. Those of us who frequently swap data with non-connected friends with older Macs, have a wealth of software backups still held on floppies, or wish to save a few pennies (until telephone charges become cheaper or better still free), make a market for floppies. Being small, slim and translucent blue-&-white, the TEAC drive looks very attractive. It is light enough and portable enough to shove in your handbag or pocket every morning, and take to work to transfer your files. The Newer uDrive is much larger, chunkier and heavier, but its smooth curves and Bondi blue colouring is designed to match Newer’s other USB peripherals. The uDrive also has an indicator light showing when data transfer is occurring from the floppy disk. When connecting either of these floppy drives to your Mac, you’ll notice that they don’t need their own plug although the uDrive has an AC adaptor socket if you need it and don’t yet own a powered USB hub. This is because they need very little power to run and take their power directly from the USB connector. The plug-&-play feature of USB means you don’t need to shut down, connect the device, then restart each time you plug a new device in. Before you install anything you must check you have the correct version of USB Manager. If you own one of the earlier iMacs, you need to install the iMac Update 1.1 to fix a bug in the way the iMac recognizes some peripheral USB devices. This will update older versions of USB Manager to version 1.1. To check which version you have, use the Apple System Profiler on your Mac and follow the instructions. The Newer drive comes with the software updates on a CD ready to install if needed. For the TEAC, you must download it from Apple’s Web site along with the iMac Firmware update 1.1. There’s just one slight criticism in using both these USB floppy drives. You must remember to drag the disk icon from your desktop to the Wastebasket before pressing the eject button on the actual floppy drive. If you forget, a scary warning will flash up on your screen telling you to immediately replace the floppy or data will be lost or damaged. Make sure you read the manual before use.
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