When the Zip drive first arrived on the scene, the storage market was itching for affordable, easy-to-use, and higher-capacity removable media. Iomega’s latest offering, the Zip 750MB FireWire External Drive, still scores on these counts, but today’s scene is dramatically different — most users already have CD-RW drives that meet the same criteria. What’s more, CD-R/RW discs are not nearly as expensive: they cost less than a dollar each, and one 750MB Zip disk is $15.
Still, the Zip 750MB drive has a speed advantage over CD-R/RW technology. In our tests, it was about 25 percent faster than a CD-RW drive writing a CD-R at 40¥ and twice as fast as a drive writing a CD-RW at 12¥. It’s also two and a half times faster than Iomega’s previous Zip drive, the USB Zip 250.
Reading and Writing
The Zip 750MB reads and writes 750MB disks that look similar to the older Zip disks. In practice, these new disks hold closer to 710MB and cost $15 apiece. (Unfortunately, no Zip disks are included with the drive.) It also reads and writes 250MB Zip media but only reads 100MB media.
The drive comes with Iomega Tools and Automatic Backup software. The former lets you format disks as HFS, HFS+, or DOS and lets you write-protect disks. The latter lets you schedule backups and determine how many versions of a file you want to save. While it isn’t as full-featured as Dantz’s Retrospect (Reviews, July 2002), Automatic Backup will remind you to back up important files.
At 7.0 by 4.5 by 1.0 inches, the Zip 750MB is slightly smaller than the original Zip drive, and it’s quite portable. We installed the Automatic Backup program, but after we disabled it and disconnected the drive, it auto-launched whenever we restarted our Mac. Iomega recommends uninstalling the application if you decide not to use it. Though the Zip 750MB is powered by the FireWire bus, the drive ships without a power supply. If you already run a bus-powered FireWire device, you can request a free AC adapter from Iomega.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
If you have a substantial investment in Zip disks, and if you prefer the way you can immediately copy files to them, to the slower process of burning CD-RWs, the Zip 750MB is a natural upgrade. You get the advantages of backward compatibility with your old media, as well as improved speed and capacity with the new media.
Otherwise, it’s hard to compete with a CD-RW drive. Along with their other benefits, CD-ROM drives are as ubiquitous as Zip drives once were: if you burn your files onto a CD-R, you’ll be sure to find a drive that will read it no matter where you are.