The plus in ZipPlus is for connectivity, not speed

Iomega's Zip drive had a greater impact on the PC market in the 3 years since its initial release than just about any other product in recent history. With more than 12 million units in use, Zip drives are almost as standard as CD-ROM drives. Iomega has retooled its original Zip drive, without changing the base functionality, to create the new ZipPlus drive.

An important feature in ZipPlus is the 25-pin AutoDetect connector cable that plugs into both parallel and SCSI ports. The original Zip drive came in two versions, SCSI and parallel port. The SCSI version provided greater speed, but the parallel port version provided better portability. However, each version worked only with its respective type of port. So unless you purchased a SCSI-to-parallel adapter, the SCSI unit only connected to external SCSI ports. The original Zip drive also shipped with a bulky power adapter that often got in the way.

Iomega's ZipPlus drive includes other enhancements, such as an on/off switch that doubles as an eject button and a slimmer, lighter (4-ounce) universal power supply. The drive contains an impressive selection of bundled software: full versions of Adobe Systems' Adobe PhotoDeluxe 2.0; DataViz's Web Buddy, an offline Web browser; Iomega's RecordIt, an audio recording tool; PictureWorks Technologies' NetCard, a client that lets you email pictures and sound files; and Digital Arts & Sciences' ImageAXS, a multimedia cataloging utility.

zip driveInstallation
Installing the ZipPlus drive in Windows NT is simple. To use the drive in SCSI mode, you need to connect the cable to the external port of a SCSI adapter. However, the supplied cable requires a 25-pin SCSI connector. Most Adaptec SCSI controllers have a 50-pin hard disk connector, so you need a 25-pin to 50-pin hard disk cable converter to use the ZipPlus drive with this type of controller. You can connect the ZipPlus to a Jaz drive (Iomega's 1GB removable storage system) and pass the ZipPlus drive through to the SCSI bus. However, the Jaz drive's connector is also a 50-pin hard disk connector, so you can't link the two devices without an adapter.

NT automatically recognizes removable SCSI drives, so you can use the ZipPlus drive as soon as you connect it. Using this drive on a parallel port in NT is trickier, because you have to install a miniport driver first. However, other than having to disconnect the printer, installation shouldn't present any problems. The AutoDetect cable plugs into the parallel port (you can plug most printers into the back of the ZipPlus drive and pass the parallel port connection through the drive), so NT won't automatically detect the drive. For NT to recognize the drive, you need to install Iomega's parallel port driver in the SCSI Adapters applet in Control Panel.

Problems Remain
Unfortunately, Iomega hasn't improved drive performance in ZipPlus. Users complain that both versions of the original Zip drive are slow. This lack of performance is partially because Zip's flexible medium limits rotational speed and Zip's SCSI-1 interface limits transfer rates to 5 MB per second (MBps).

In parallel port mode, the ZipPlus drive is also lethargic. To test its performance, I created a 20MB file on a Zip disk and copied the file to the hard disk, which took about 6 minutes. Copying the file back to the ZipPlus drive required a less disappointing 5 minutes. The ZipPlus drive's performance is two to three times faster in SCSI mode (depending on the operation being performed), but still not quick enough to use the drive as a secondary storage device.

If you already own a Zip drive, you want to stick with it instead of upgrading; Iomega simply hasn't improved the ZipPlus model enough to justify the additional purchase. If you haven't invested in a Zip drive, the flexibility that the AutoDetect connector cable provides might justify the premium price you'll pay for ZipPlus. You'll have to purchase only one ZipPlus drive and cart it between systems instead of buying a SCSI version of Zip for your desktop and a parallel port version of Zip for the road. ZipPlus' universal power supply makes transporting the drive easier. For portable users, the ZipPlus drive is compact, portable, and a convenient way to obtain extra storage space.

Iomega ZipPlus
Contact: Iomega * 801-778-1000, Web: http://www.iomega.com /TD>
Price: $199
System Requirements: Windows NT or Windows 95, 386 or better
Parallel port or 25-pin Advanced SCSI Programming Interface-compatible adapter, CD-ROM drive