By Jon L. Jacobi
Your PC's hard drive may be big and fast, but it lacks an attribute required for today's on-the-go lifestyle: portability. New external drives from Iomega and Maxtor provide that quality, as well as speed, size, and flexibility, but at a price.
Before Maxtor's new 60GB Personal Storage 3000DV, external IEEE 1394 (FireWire) hard drives had always been plug-and-play handy, but their performance lagged behind that of SCSI drives and internal IDE models. The Maxtor, however, writes data at a blazing 16 megabytes per second--nearly double the speed of previous IEEE 1394 drives. Its sustained read rate of over 8.5 MBps while copying data to a half-full hard drive was quite impressive, too.
The Maxtor drive measures 6 by 8.6 by 1.6 inches (width by depth by height), and it weighs about 2 pounds and is rugged enough to take lot of handling. The drive draws a bit too much juice to run solely off IEEE 1394 bus power, so an AC adapter is required. But my only real gripe is that the drive lacks a power switch.
But the extra cash buys you a strong combination of reliability and storage in a removable cartridge drive. Peerless cartridges are hermetically sealed to keep out contaminants. Iomega says that they're also far more shock resistant than competing drives.
Peerless cartridges fit vertically inside a docking sleeve that uses a removable connectivity module (either USB or IEEE 1394) as its base. Only the USB module was available for my testing, so the fastest transfer rates I saw were 950 kbps for writing and 750 kbps for reading. Those are speedy times for a USB 1.1 device, but the company claims that the upcoming IEEE 1394 module should multiply those rates by at least a factor of 20.
In my opinion, however, most users' backup needs will be better served by cheaper technologies like CD-RW.
Durable cartridges good for those on the go, but a high price and slow USB connection will deter many.
Street price: $360 (drive, one cartridge)
Personal Storage 3000DV
This fast and rugged IEEE 1394 (FireWire) drive lives up to the technology's name, but you'll pay plenty for it.
Street price: $380
From the September 2001 issue of PC World magazine