capsule review

Iomega Rev 35GB 1394/FireWire External Drive

It takes 123 CD-ROMs to back up the average 80GB hard drive. If your backup needs are overwhelming your CD drive—or even your DVD drive—an Iomega Rev 35GB drive could be the solution. It’s faster than a tape drive, and its removable disks are more portable than an external hard drive while providing a storage capacity that dwarfs optical media.

Each Rev cartridge contains a 2.5-inch hard disk and a spindle motor. Because the motor is inside a plastic case, there’s no danger that dust will clog the motor. The drive heads and electronics are contained in the compact Rev drive case, which is smaller than a Harlequin paperback. This design makes the Rev drive more durable than portable drives; you can’t damage the delicate drive heads by inadvertently dropping the cartridge. The whole package runs off of the power from a FireWire 400 connector, but it comes with an AC adapter for operation with a hub. The drive also comes with Dantz Retrospect Backup.

In our testing, the Rev drive was a snap to connect. It also proved to be twice as fast as an optical drive or a desktop tape drive, though it wasn’t quite as fast as a FireWire hard drive. We were able to write to the Rev cartridge at 13 MBps and read from it at 23 MBps—just about what Iomega promises. A FireWire 400 external hard drive was twice as fast on writes and about 60 percent faster on reads.

A portable FireWire hard drive also costs less per megabyte than the Rev drive. You can get portable, 2.5-inch hard drives for around $3 per gigabyte, while the Rev drive starts at $13 per gigabyte. The Rev’s price is competitive with that of portable hard drives only after you fill up eight or nine disks.

Removable media such as Iomega Rev cartridges have one advantage over hard drives: they let you easily create multiple backup sets, which you can then store off-site for greater security.

But you do need to consider compatibility: only time will tell whether the Rev format becomes widespread enough that you can give the cartridges to a service bureau or to friends.

Macworld’s Buying Advice

The cartridges for the Iomega Rev 35GB drive hold a hefty 35GB but are small enough to easily transport and store. However, the drive-and-cartridge combination is more expensive than external-drive alternatives.

Iomega Rev 35GB 1394/FireWire External Drive
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