Iomega's Peerless offering will make its debut in the channel next month and looks set to give both optical and tape storage solutions a run for their money.
The vendor has already begun shipping the drive, a month ahead of its original schedule. The Peerless Drive System is a removable hard drive that is based on the IBM Travelstar 2.5-inch notebook hard disk currently available in 10GB and 20GB capacities.
"We are using hard-drive technology, cost efficiencies and design," said Iomega marketing manager for Australia and New Zealand, Peter Atton. Within six months, and 30 patents later, the system is shipping."
Iomega claims the product can withstand a fall from a desk, largely because the heads are completely locked when supported by its cradle.
"The system is unique in that normally the heads of a hard drive park in a landing zone," explain Iomega country director Peter Dawson. "Now the heads are moved right off the platters - one of the reasons we went with the Travelstar and what makes the product reliable and safe to use. Considering the capacity, the amount of data you could lose is significant."
The product will ship with FireWire and USB connections, with SCSI offered later this year.
Iomega is initially targeting the graphics and publishing market, but predicts the device will also find a place within the home and SME market.
"It opens up an interesting area - a lot of SMEs don't need a DAT tape for backup," Atton said, adding it would be possible to mirror entire systems for very small businesses on the Peerless drive. Most small networks tend to use it once and then forget."
Dawson added: "It's a no-brainer as a replacement for tape as a file server backup."
The FireWire connection offers a sustained transfer rate of up to 15MBps and Iomega plans to increase the capacity of the drives in line with new technology.
Iomega has also pledged to continue to support and sell disks for its Jaz drives, although both Atton and Dawson admitted that new customers will likely choose the Peerless system over the older Jaz technology.
The base station bundled with an interface module and a 20GB or 10GB disk will retail for $1095 and $995 respectively. Individual Peerless disks will be priced at $449 for 10GB and $549 for 20GB.