Carrying a hard drive around has inherent risks, mainly due to the proximity of the heads to the platters. One ill-placed knock and you could see your precious backups scattered to the wind. It doesn't happen often but it does happen, and Iomega seems pretty dedicated to helping you avoid finding yourself in such an unfortunate position.
The REV, now in its second incarnation, is a storage system in many ways akin to Iomega's other notable formats - Jazz and Zip drives - but structurally rather different: instead of a floppy-style magnetic disc, it uses a hard drive platter. The heads and mechanics are secreted away in the drive itself, meaning your data should be safe in its knock-proof headless caddy.
REV's indestructibility is one of its major selling points, so much so that Iomega offers a five-year warranty on its discs. In our experience, they held up to rigorous shaking and dropping, as they well should. But after juggling one of said 70GB cartridges around for a while, mildly crushing it in a brief period of (admittedly warranty-defying) madness, the result was less than satisfying.
Not only did the disc itself seize up, but the drive we jammed it into followed suit. You shouldn't follow our reckless example, of course, but the likelihood is you'll never want the chance. This is an impressive technology that's going to need to scramble desperately to try and find a market, at least outside of the small business market.
Tape backup, previous smallbusiness stalwart, is progressively looking too expensive to compete with the ever-decreasing price of hard drives. REV does improve upon tape to a great extent - 8x the transfer speed, no more awkward rewinding and tension problems - and beats it easily on price.
But Iomega's own range of USB hard drives shows REV up, especially on that all-important price-to-gigabyte ratio. A REV drive and eight cartridges (each £50) would set you back a hefty £800. To buy eight 250GB external hard drives would cost around £150 less, and give you almost 1.5TB of additional space to play with. The mathematics say it all.
In conclusion, unless you're absolutely desperate to put a tapebased backup system out to pasture and couldn't live without the extreme portability that REV offers, there's really nothing on offer here that warrants a purchase. Alex Cox