In the months surrounding COMDEX/Fall, held in November 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, a number of vendors jumped on the removable storage bandwagon. The key advantage of removable storage devices, as touted by the vendors themselves as well as users, lies in their portability. Unlike bulky towers, jukeboxes, and other storage configurations, removable solutions are easily transported and accessed from multiple sources. The latest removable devices are also claiming remarkable storage capacities of up to 120MB, true mobility with sizes measuring as little as 2×2 inches, and maximum data transfer rates of up to 290KB/sec.
Because portables have proven to be one of the fastest growing segments in the PC market, it’s likely that more vendors will emerge with their own brand of removable storage in the coming months. In the meantime, worthy products from Imation Corporation, Iomega, Micro Design International, and SyQuest, as well as a “cooperative product” offered by Mitsubishi Electronics America’s Electronic Device Group and Winstation Systems Corporation, have changed the face of removable storage and upped the ante for developers of these in-demand systems.
Imation Corporation helped fuel the trend toward high-capacity, high-speed, and low-cost removable storage by pushing its trademarked SuperDisk technology in the LS- 120 product line With a storage capacity of up to 120MB per diskette, dual compatibility for reading and writing both LS-120 and 3.5-inch disks, a drag-and-drop interface, and performance speeds that move files up to five times faster than conventional floppy drives do, Imation’s SuperDisk replaces the 1.44MB drive and is licensed by a number of removable storage developers.
Furthermore, SuperDisk may be incorporated into both integrated and mobile PC systems, or as an external parallel port drive. The external SuperDisk drive measures 147.6mm (length) x 101.6mm (width) x 25.4mm (height), offers maximum transfer rates of 290KB/sec for 120MB disks or 55KB/sec for 1.44MB disks and an average access time of 70ms. SuperDisk media in the 120MB format contains 512 bytes per sector, between 51 and 92 zoned sectors per track, 55 zones per side, and 1736 tracks per side. The external drive lists for $155-$199; diskettes retail at $1520 and are available in 3-, 5-, and 10-pack configurations.
Iomega Corporation, manufacturer of Zip, Jaz, and Ditto drives and media, may very well have the competition beat in terms of size (for now) with its Clik! drive, announced in November 1997. Designed for use with portable products like digital cameras, handheld computers, and smart phones, the Clik! drive operates on only 3.3 volts and weighs approximately 2 ounces. Clik! measures in at 3.37 inches (length) x 2.126 inches (width) x 0.256 inches (height) and provides an average seek time of less than 25ms and an average sustained transfer rate of 0.7MB/sec.
Touted as the “compact, go-anywhere” storage solution–a claim not yet made by most other removable storage device developers–the Clik! drive may be purchased in both internal and external models. The external version, set to retail for roughly $200, will be available through OEMs by the middle of this year. A low-power internal version is also expected to ship in 1998. Specially designed Clik! disks, with an MSRP of $9.95 and a storage capacity of 40MB, will include a shelf life of at least 10 years.
Micro Design International (MDI) and Maxoptix Corporation combined their respective expertise in optical technologies and drive creation with the U-Stor drive, a 2.6GB writable and removable optical drive providing data transfer rates of up to 6MB/sec. Designed by Maxoptix, the U-Stor drive uses magneto optical technology for read/write compatibility with all ISO standard media and LIMDOW technology for write speeds comparable to hard drive speeds. The drive includes a 1,024KB data buffer size and an average seek time of 19ms, and boasts a 200,000 Mean Time Before Failure.
According to the companies, the U-Stor drive offers a large-scale, removable storage solution for use in desktop publishing, Computer Aided Design, digital audio and video editing, Internet storage, and image retrieval projects. Furthermore, the product is said to provide the most reliable mechanism for secondary storage with a 50-year shelf life that requires no media maintenance. Shipping since mid-November, the U-Stor lists for $1,920 (internal) and $2,095 (external).
The Electronic Device Group of Mitsubishi Electronics America partnered with Winstation Systems Corporation to create the SuperDisk SLS-120 internal floppy drive for workstations and Macintosh-compatible desktop computers. Based on the SuperDisk technology originally developed by Imation, the SLS-120 combines Mitsubishi’s slim-height (1-inch) drive with Winstation’s SCSI solutions to offer SuperDisk technology across Windows (with its IDE interface), Macintosh, and UNIX computing platforms.
The SuperDisk SLS-120 is said to work seamlessly with current 1.44MB technology and to offer “the comfort and familiarity of the 3.5-inch floppy disk format,” says Russell J. Horn, CEO of Winstation. Operating at higher speeds than its IDE counterpart, the SCSI interfaced SLS-120 promises a transfer burst mode of 4MB/sec and an average seek time of 65ms. The internal version of the drive is priced at $199; the external version is available for $269. SuperDisk media match the standard 1.44MB 3.5-inch diskette in size and shape–but hold up to 120MB of data–and retail for approximately $15-20 each.
SyQuest–the inventor of high-performance removable cartridge technology–expanded the removable storage device market even further when it announced not one, but two new solutions in mid-November. The SparQ drive, a 1GB removable cartridge hard drive ideal for small or home office professionals, families, business travelers, Internet users, and PC gamers, is configurable with parallel ports and as an internal EIDE and offers burst data transfer rates of 2MB/sec and 16.6MB/sec, respectively. SparQ also registers an average seek time of 12ms and retails for $199. A three-pack of SparQ cartridges–each holding 1GB of data-lists for $99.
Also new from SyQuest is the 4.7GB Quest drive, which is said to more than triple the capacity of current removable hard disk cartridges. Featuring dual-stripe magneto resistive recording heads and an ultra-wide SCSI interface, the Quest includes a 2MB intelligent cache buffer and an air filtration system to minimize data corruption. Like the SparQ, the Quest drive features an average seek time of 12ms. However, the Quest performs at a sustained data transfer maximum of 10.6MB/sec and registers 40MB/sec burst synchronous in ultra-wide SCSI configurations and 20MB/sec in narrow.