Iomega ZIP 250 MB External USB review: Iomega ZIP 250 MB External USB

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Inexpensive; cross-platform; convenient; backward compatible with existing media.

The Bad Slower than IDE Zip drives; no Mac backup utility.

The Bottom Line It's portable and affordable, but this drive's coolest feature is the one it doesn't have: a power cable.

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Traveling with a 250MB Zip drive--or squeezing one into the clutter around your computer--just got a little easier. Iomega's new Zip model doesn't need a power supply or cord. Instead, it draws power through the same USB cable that carries data. This Zip isn't quite as fast as its internal, IDE cousins, but it beats them hands down on installation and convenience. Traveling with a 250MB Zip drive--or squeezing one into the clutter around your computer--just got a little easier. Iomega's new Zip model doesn't need a power supply or cord. Instead, it draws power through the same USB cable that carries data. This Zip isn't quite as fast as its internal, IDE cousins, but it beats them hands down on installation and convenience.

Slim and simplified
The Zip 250 USB Powered drive costs $180 and comes with one U-shaped, 250MB disk (additional disks cost about $15 each). It can still read and write the older (square) 250MB and 100MB disks, too. The Zip drive works with Mac OS 8.5.1 and later, as well as Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, and NT 4.0. The whole thing weighs 9 ounces with the included USB cable, and at 6.5 inches long by 4.5 inches wide, it fits easily in the back pocket of your jeans (just don't sit down on it!). To conserve desk space, Iomega provides a little clip to stand the drive on edge. Zip drives are made for carrying around, so a welcome feature on this model is no-slip rubber edges, which lets you get a good grip so that it won't pop out of your hands.

On both a Windows desktop and notebook, setup is simple: Pop in the CD, click through the default settings in Iomega's installer, plug in the USB cable, and it's rock-and-roll time. The setup pamphlet is only six pages long and has large illustrations on every page. Even if you've never configured a PC before, you'll probably get the Zip drive running on the first try. And unlike SCSI and parallel connections, the USB cable lets you hot plug the drive (unplug and reattach the drive without restarting your computer) once the software is installed. But you can't do this while it's writing, of course, and Windows 95 and NT 4.0 don't support hot plugging.

Iomega ships the drive with two CDs of Mac and PC software; how much you get out of your drive depends on how you want to use it. You can collect, edit, arrange, and share photos using Adobe ActiveShare 2 (for PC) or MGI PhotoSuite (for Mac). MusicMatch Jukebox, for finding and playing digital music, works on both platforms. However, Iomega Backup 4.1, the included backup utility, is for PC only. Iomega also includes Quik Sync 2, a more advanced backup utility, that works with both Macs and PCs, but it's a 30-day teaser version (it takes $20 more to get the full version).

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Weight 0.5 lbs
  • Type None