The Zip drive may have made the company famous, but Iomega's long-standing reputation for innovative storage technologies would have faltered long ago if it hadn't evolved to deliver modern solutions at a price users could easily afford.
This neatly designed portable hard drive has everything you could require from a small form factor drive. Its aluminium enclosure is minimalist - barely larger than the 2.5-inch 80GB laptop hard disk it sheathes. The case is finished neatly with a clean white front and rear panel, which will sit comfortably beside your iMac, Mac mini or indeed your mouse and keyboard.
The drive is almost silent in operation and is powered either via the USB or FireWire ports, doing away with any unnecessary wiring. Iomega supplies the drive formatted for the Mac, although you can reformat it should you wish to share the drive's contents with a PC. This will prove useful if you want to use Apple's Boot Camp on your Intel Mac.
Iomega has packaged the drive well with everything you need in the box, including both FireWire and USB cables.
The USB cable also features a second USB connector to provide extra power for the drive (on laptops, and with some USB cards, the power provided by one USB port isn't sufficient to operate the drive properly). The drive also features a 5V DC power connector, but no power supply - the drive works fine powered by the USB ports and FireWire ports, so this isn't a necessity.
We tested the device via both FireWire and USB 2.0 and the performance is typical of any other brand of portable hard drive. Via USB 2.0, read performance averaged 14.88MB/ sec, with write speeds slightly higher at 15.62MB/sec.
FireWire performance was faster, with typical read speeds of 27.9MB/ sec and write speeds of 27.8MB/ sec. The aluminium case keeps the drive cool, too - even after several hours use, it didn't feel warm to the touch. Drive activity is indicated by the flashing of a bright blue LED, located on the top of the casing.
Instructions for use are provided along with a CD that has a full copy of Retrospect Express 6.1 - a cut-down version of Retrospect Desktop, which normally sells for around £85. Retrospect may not be the most intuitive software around, but it is reliable.
The app includes software compression and can keep incremental backups over time, so that, as you work with files, each version is kept within the backup. You can also use the software to keep a live copy of your drive backed up so that its a fully functional bootable disk. Its inclusion is a welcome addition to this reasonably priced portable hard drive. Ed Haynes