As Comdex Fall '97 approaches, the storage market is awash with announcements, pre-announcements, and re-announcements from major players and eager start-ups, all trying to outdo each another on storage capacity, economy, and technology. Here's a roundup of the pre-Comdex storage buzz.
SyQuest today announced for the second time a drive and removeable cartridge that stores an industry-leading 4.7GB, enough space to store a full-length film. Dubbed Quest and originally announced to stockholders in the first quarter of this year, the drive with one cartridge included will cost $599, with additional cartridges priced at $199.
Primarily directed at multimedia developers and information technology professionals, Quest comes close on the heels of a more consumer-oriented SyQuest product called SparQ. A direct challenger to Iomega's 1GB Jaz drive, SparQ stores 1GB and costs $199 for the drive and $33 for cartridges purchased in packs of three. (See related story)
But Iomega is surpassing its own 1GB limit: In September the company announced plans to deliver a next-generation Jaz drive and cartridge with 2GB of storage space. The 2GB Jaz drive will cost $649 for the external model and $549 for the internal model. Disks bought in quantities of three will cost $149 each. The product is expected to be available by the end of the year.
Industry veterans like Iomega and SyQuest face a challenge from Castlewood Systems. The Pleasanton, California-based start-up, founded by SyQuest founder and former CEO Syed Iftikar, will debut its flagship product Orb next week at Comdex. Orb, scheduled to ship in January, will store 2.16GB at a mere $199 for a drive and cartridge, with additional cartridges priced at $29.95.
Castlewood Systems (whose Web site will go live with the Orb announcement on November 17) acknowledges that it has entered the crowded field quite late. But spokesman David Swanson claimed the company would establish its foothold because of its competitive price point.
Another familiar storage system is expanding its reach, with today's announcement that the LS-120 has a Macintosh- and workstation-compatible cousin, the new SLS-120. Both products are internal floppy drives that store 120MB and also read conventional 1.44MB floppy disks.
Meanwhile, Iomega tomorrow will announce a family of tape drives that offers users up to 10GB of backup storage space, which will include 125MB of rewriteable file space. The Ditto Max tape drive, with 7GB of storage, will cost $199, and the Ditto Max Professional drive, with 10GB, will cost $299. Cartridges will range from $20 for 3GB capacity to $35 for the 10GB capacity cartridge.
Tape drives are useful for inexpensively backing up large amounts of information. But the tradeoff for economy is poor accessibility; recovering backed-up information from a tape drive is cumbersome and time-consuming. Removeable cartridges, by contrast, provide easy accessibility, but at a higher cost.