Jaz - a gig in your pocket

Jaz - a gig in your pocket

Iomega has beaten its closest competition, SyQuest Technology, in the race to see who could get the biggest, most inexpensive removable mass storage units to market. The Iomega Jaz Drive is, in one word, impressive.

I looked at the portable SCSI version of the Jaz, which includes a cartridge containing Jaz Tools software, an adaptor that provides connectivity to a Macintosh, and a SCSI cable.

Like those of SyQuest's EZ Drive, the cartridges are based on Winchester technology. They're small - roughly the size of a fat 31/2in disk. Unlike EZ Drive, the Jaz can hold as much as 1,080K of data when formatted on a PC. That's large enough to make the Jaz a realistic backup option for the average Australian office. Iomega boasts that the Jaz has an average seek time of 12 milliseconds with a maximum sustained transfer rate of 6.73Mbit/sec. It features a 256K read/write buffer and spins at 5,400 revolutions-per-minute, rivalling most fast hard drives.

I compared the Jaz's file copying speed with that of an Iomega Zip drive and SyQuest's EZ Drive - until now, two of the most popular removable disk drives on the market. The EZ Drive was slightly faster than the Jaz, and the Zip lagged well behind both of them.

As expected, the drive worked wonderfully on my Power Macintosh. A small quibble: Unlike the EZ Drive or most Macintosh hardware, a Jaz extension needs to be loaded for the drive to be recognised.

I had some difficulty copying large files under Windows NT. The Jaz could copy as much as 254Mb of data before crashing.

The fix is easy enough: Create the partition and set it active using Windows NT's Disk Administrator; after you reboot, you can format the disk using file allocation tables or even the Windows NT File System.

Iomega recommends using its formatting tools, rather than your OS's, for multiple-platform use.

If you'd like the extra space for multimedia, or even if you're just a pack rat, the Jaz is definitely your tune.

The Bottom Line: Excellent

Iomega Jaz Drive

Iomega has finally shipped its big brother to the Zip drive, Jaz, which delivers a gigabyte of removable data with exceptional performance. It's very light, fast, portable, and attractive but, unfortunately, hard to find. If you're lucky enough to find one, go for it. It's definitely worth the search and the money.

Pros: Inexpensive removable mass storage for multiple platforms, including NetWare and Unix; fast enough to run applications or boot multiple operating systems; can select any SCSI ID; auto-termination capable.

Cons: As a new product, and based on the success of the Zip drive, supply is expected to outstrip demand in the initial stages.

Price: $899 externally or $749 internally; 1Gb cartridges: $199. All prices RRP.

Platform: Windows 3.x, Windows 95, Windows NT, OS/2 Warp, Macintosh, Unix, NetWare.


Tel: (02) 9416 0666 Fax: (02) 9511 8028


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