The demise of SyQuest has left a big chunk of the removable-media market to Iomega. Both the Zip and Jaz formats are widely used, if not always hugely popular. Jaz successfully made the transition from 1GB to 2GB cartridges fairly painlessly – and, now, Zip is moving from 100MB to 250MB.
The first thing you notice with the
Zip 250 is its new slimline design. It's so sleek that the old design looks positively chunky. The poor old 44MB SyQuest format would look like a dinosaur – if there were any left. Part of the reason for its smaller case is that the drive uses USB to connect to your Mac. The USB interface makes it possible to use it with all of Apple's latest systems. Unfortunately, this means a big step-back in speed. It's not quite unusable, but a 20MB file took almost ten minutes
to copy across from Mac to Zip. Compared to burning a CD-R disk, this is terribly slow. That you can burn a 650MB disk in under 20 minutes using a 4x USB CD-R, shows that USB is not necessarily the guilty party here.
So top marks for a sleek design – but speed is a real problem. The wide-use of the disks is a bonus, but it doesn't quite out-weigh the speed problems. Strangely, copying
data from the Zip is much faster. The same 20MB file copied in a couple of minutes.
The drive comes with a stand – so you can have it resting on its side – as well as a USB cable and a PC card. At first, I thought this must be a mistake: why supply USB and a PC card? On closer inspection, the PC card attachment proved incompatible with PowerBooks: it is only supported on PC notebooks. This isn't really a problem – if you want to run the drive with a new PowerBook you could use USB. But, the
PC card is there whether or not you want it. This must have an affect on price. I would hate to think I was subsidizing a card for the convenience of PC users. Somebody at Iomega probably figured out that it's cheaper to market a multifunction PC/USB connection than a separate box for each one.
At £128, the Zip 250 USB is still relatively inexpensive for a removable-media drive. But, it may be worth investigating a USB CD-R as it's faster and the media is cheaper. If you already use a Zip 100 it makes sense to stick with the standard – but be prepared for a sluggish replacement.