The Good Excellent CD-R mastering and audio-extraction performance; stylish; inexpensive for a fast, external drive.
The Bad Problematic packet-writing performance; flimsy pop top; uses a proprietary drive-to-USB cable.
The Bottom Line The Predator is by far the fastest USB 2.0 drive we've tested at mastering CD-Rs, but it slowed to a snail's pace while packet-writing. The price is enticing, but don't buy until you have Iomega's word that the software issues have been fixed.
Iomega Predator 24X/10X/40X External USB 2.0
At first glance, Iomega's Predator USB 2.0 drive looks like it's ready to devour the competition. It has futuristic good looks, it's bargain-priced for an external drive with 24X/10X/40X ratings, and it masters discs in near-record time. But alas, software problems rendered the drive toothless when packet-writing.At first glance, Iomega's Predator USB 2.0 drive looks like it's ready to devour the competition. It has futuristic good looks, it's bargain-priced for an external drive with 24X/10X/40X ratings, and it masters discs in near-record time. But alas, software problems rendered the drive toothless when packet-writing.
Installing the $229 Predator is easy enough; plug in the power brick, run the USB cable to the computer, and you're good to go--assuming you already have a USB 2.0 adapter. If you don't, factor that into the installation difficulty. You can, of course, run the drive off of a USB 1.1 bus, but then the best speeds you'll see are 4X/4X/6X. Installing the Predator's software bundle is simple but annoying. You're required to enter personal information as a first step, though thankfully, you're not required to submit it. The software includes HotBurn for CD mastering and packet-writing, MusicMatch Jukebox for playing or extracting audio, and Adobe ActiveShare for organizing and sharing images over the Internet.
At approximately 5.8 by 7.75 by 1.8 inches, the Predator is a bit smaller than most full-sized, external CD-RW drives, but it's still a little too large to travel with. It's styled in dark gray and blue curves with a psychedelic spinner visible through the clear window in the light-silver pop top. Overall, the Predator's construction seems sturdy enough, but we have doubts about the rather flimsy lid; its hinges might not survive in less-than-friendly environments. The drive also features a headphone jack and a volume control on the right side of the unit; the AC power jack (the Predator can't run off of USB bus power) and the proprietary USB-cable connection are located on the back.