Iomega Zip 250 USB w/Firewire Adapter

Iomega Zip 250 USB w/Firewire Adapter
Company: Iomega Corporation
Estimated Price: $179.95
(Firewire Adapter: $79.95)

Iomega’s Zip is the defacto standard for
removable storage in today’s cross-platform
world. Long replacing the floppy, the pocket size disks can go almost anywhere. But as technologies change, and storage capacity grows at a feverish rate, standards also change. Zip cartridges are now capable of handling 250MB of data, as opposed to 100 in their previous incarnation. What’s more, Iomega has kept up with the industrial design revolution, designing an ultra-slim Zip 250 drive that, like it’s handy disks, can go almost anywhere.

A Road-Warrior’s Best Friend
The Zip 250 USB drive was obviously designed for PowerBook users, (aka. road-warriors). It’s sleek, slim design compliments a PowerBook extremely well. Even its power adapter has a smaller “brick” than before, making it much easier to manage. Moreover, unlike the Zip expansion bay modules, the Zip 250 USB drive can easily be used with all of Apple’s current portable and desktop machines. In fact, you can even use it with an older Macintosh if a USB card is installed.

The Zip 250 USB drive is also backwards compatible, and will read all of your old 100MB Zip disks as well as the newer 250MB versions. Since 100MB drives are still much more common than their big brother, this is great news for everyone who wants to maintain compatibility while getting the added benefit of a significant storage increase.

On Fire!

Unfortunately, as with most middle to high-speed devices that
use the USB interface, the Zip 250 drive is unbearably
slow, and almost twice as slow with 100MB disks than it is with
250MB cartridges. Luckily, Iomega makes an adapter
that will convert the Zip 250 drive to use the Firewire interface,
which more than doubles your transfer speed to around 2.0 MB/sec. Additionally, if you have built-in Firewire, the Zip 250 drive will be powered by the bus, eliminating the need for an external power supply. This makes traveling with the Zip 250 drive even easier and much more economical.

Since the speed increase is so dramatic when using Firewire as opposed to USB, I thought I would crunch a few numbers to show the dramatic increase. To test the two interfaces, i used an 89.8MB Photoshop file, copying on a “Pismo” PowerBook G3/500 with 256MB of RAM and Virtual Memory on. A 250MB cartridge was used for this test.

From disk to HD: USB – 117 seconds
Firewire – 61 seconds
From HD to disk: USB – 132 seconds
Firewire – 76 seconds

As you can see, transfer rate was approximately doubled using Firewire as opposed to USB.

The Zip 250 USB drive requires any Macintosh computer with USB, Mac OS 8.1 or higher, 8MB of RAM, and 31MB of hard disk space. The Firewire Adapter, of course, requires a Macintosh with a Firewire interface, and built-in 6-pin Firewire if you want it to be powered by the bus as opposed to an external power adapter. The Zip 250 USB drive comes with all the appropriate software needed, though I recommed you download the latest updates from the Iomega web site to prevent any compatibility problems.

The Zip 250 USB drive is also cross-platform, and can be used with the USB/Firewire interfaces, or the PCMCIA interface, which also does not require an external power adapter. The PCMCIA card and cable are sold separately for $39.95. All of the above products mentioned are available from IomegaDirect and many reseller catalogs.

The Summary
Iomega is a very reputable company with years of experience under their belt, and great products to back it up. The Zip 250 drive is no exception. Even though USB is slow, making it compatible with both of today’s new standard interfaces makes it a very versatile product with true plug and play compatibility. What’s more, I have no doubts that with Iomega’s long-standing commitment to the Macintosh platform, this product will function flawlessly under Mac OS X. Though the noise of the Zip drive is a constant complaint of critics, I can’t help but digress. I continue to be pleased with the Zip format, and I will continue to use it. It sure beats a floppy.

I do, however, have a problem with the price of this drive and it’s Firewire adapter. While $179.95 is not too off-the-wall for such a slim Zip drive, I feel that $79.95 is simply ridiculous for an adapter that should come standard with the drive. As more and more people buy computers with Firewire interfaces, shouldn’t a standard Zip drive which uses that interface make sense? Perhaps a combo drive could be built, with both USB and Firewire interfaces, as many external Hard Drives are built today. The Iomega Zip 250 USB is a great product, but if you want to have the added speed of Firewire, it’ll cost you. However, the price of the Firewire adapter notwithstanding, the Zip 250 USB is a solid product, worth a recommendation from

MacMice Rating: 4

Adam Karneboge


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