What is it: a removable SCSI hard disk drive for PCs and Macs that stores 1Gb of data on 3.5in cartridges
Applications: direct-to-disk audio recording, video editing, CD-ROM application development and file backups and transfers
The size of an average file increases with every new generation of application, and hard drive capacities seem to be keeping pace. But are drives getting bigger because files sizes are increasing, or vice versa? Whatever the reason, transferring a 100Mb file between two distant PCs can be a painful process, and a full hard disk is a major problem.
The solution is a mass storage device with unlimited capacity, such as a removable hard drive. These have been around for some time, but have tended to be cumbersome devices with limited space.
All this makes the Jaz drive something of a revelation. About the size of a hardback book, it uses compact cartridges that can hold 1Gb of data.
It's available in either internal or external versions. Although both are SCSI, the external model is more versatile because it is easily moved between computers.
The external Jaz drive has been designed with curved edges which means it cannot be placed on its side, but it takes up little desk space anyway.
Cartridges slot in to the front of the unit. Unlike similar devices, these are not hidden behind a flap, so you can see their identifying label.
The Jaz cartridges are the same size and shape as 3.5in floppy disks, and about three times as thick. They are sturdy and light enough to be carried in your pocket.
The Iomega Jaz is a SCSI drive, and installation, particularly with Windows 95, is quite straightforward. It features automatic SCSI termination, so you just simply set the SCSI ID and plug it in to both the PC and mains supply. However, few PCs have a SCSI adaptor card as standard, and this does add about #100 to the price.
The Jaz doesn't require any special drivers with Windows 95 and can be used as soon as it is connected. The supplied Jaz Tools software offers some useful utilities. For instance, the drive can be set up so it can't be removed, which means the system sees it as a normal, fixed hard drive.
In addition, disks can be easily copied between one or more drives. The tools also allow the drive to be powered down after a period of inactivity, which saves on both power and wear and tear on the disk.
Verdict: with a typical street price of considerably less than u400 and cost per megabyte of about 7p, the Jaz drive is a comparatively cheap and easy way to add unlimited mass storage to a PC.
Iomega has two other storage devices for
business users: the Zip takes 100Mb 3.5in
cartridges and comes in parallel port and IDE
versions. It costs around #109 for the drive and #10 for a cartridge.
The Ditto is intended for backups, and uses 2Gb tapes. It costs around #150, and tapes are #17 each.
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