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Iomega ZipCD — USB CD-RW Drive

Richard Price
6 June 2000

Last year someone gave me a little USB video camera to trial — what a disappointment! The camera worked, but the nexus between external hardware, USB port, software and Windows was a disaster.

The camera made other software crash, sometimes shut itself down, confused Windows' USB identification procedures and gave me a headache.

What a contrast is Iomega's new ZipCD 650 — a read-write external USB CD-ROM drive.

The software installed itself off the CD-ROM without any intervention from me. After the Zip-CD was plugged in, Windows noticed it and installed it.

It immediately worked and made a perfect music CD for me. It also looks good.

Easy CD Creator and CD Copier Deluxe are the two pieces of software which come with ZipCD. A third product, Adaptec DirectCD, claims to let you write files directly to a CD-Recordable (CD-R) or CD-ReWritable (CD-RW) disc in much the same way as you write files to a floppy diskette or a removable media drive.

With DirectCD you are also supposed to be able to read and write files directly to a disc with any software application that can read and write to a drive letter such as Microsoft Word. But, although present on the distribution CD-ROM, DirectCD is devalued by a separate single-sheet warning message included in the box.

When you see a big message saying don't use this software because data might get lost, you'd be crazy to even test it out.

But Easy CD Creator is quite sufficient for most tasks — making music CDs and/or backing up data.

CD Copier Deluxe is designed for doing exactly what it suggests - copying CDs. Don't get too excited.

The most reliable way to make a copy of a CD involves first copying an "image" of all the tracks onto your hard drive. You need just under 700MB to do that — and then writing them back to a blank CD.

It's time-consuming and slow. The speed at which a CD is written by a computer is proportional to the accuracy of the data transfer-go too fast and data gets lost or corrupted.

For this reason, the best way to write data is to allow a two-pass process. The software performs a real test in which the files to be recorded are passed to the CD recorder. No actual information is recorded to the CD during the test. Recording begins after a successful test.

The reason for doing this is to make sure that the system is up to it — not everyone has the latest Pentium III processor and many hard disks, unless they are SCSI are dismally slow.

If there's a problem with data transfer, a slower rate will automatically be selected by the software.

There is only one major problem with the ZipCD. It only works under Windows 98. Windows 3.X, 95, NT, CE or 2000 are not supported. It's a pity.

The Iomega ZipCD is Macintosh compatible. PC users need a Pentium 166 or higher with built-in USB controller and a 4X CD-ROM drive. Macintosh users need a Power MacintoshG4 or G3 or iMac with built-in USB connection, Mac OS 8.6. and a 4 X CD-ROM drive.

The ZipCD retails for a recommended AU$639. Iomega are running their 20 Birthday promotion until 30 June 2000, so you might get a 20% discount.
Price AU$639



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