They’re an odd kind of beast — halfway between a floppy and a CD read-writable. You can use the media over and over, which is good because it costs a truckload more than a CD. But you can chuck them against the wall and bounce them around and they’re pretty hardy wee beasts. They’re magnetic though, so stick one in your pocket next to your cellphone and see what happens to your data. Not pretty.
Also, size has been an issue. The first Zip came out in 1994 and held 100MB of data. The latest version weighs in at a more modern 750MB with promise of a 1GB drive waiting in the wings.
Disks will set you back around $40 each, which is steep compared with a $1 blank CD, but then you can’t password protect you CD and can’t re-write data. Iomega has a product in the US that includes a tax application on the disk — it launches when you load the disk and wipes itself from the PC when you shut it down. Nice.
The new drive will read or write your disk faster than a CD player can as well, and with USB 2.0 or Firewire you can suck the data down to your machine that much faster as well. The 750 drive will also read your old 250 and 100 disks, but get ready to migrate — the 1GB drive won’t read the 100MB disks.
Also in the works: wireless connectivity, but that’s another story.
Got a toy for the box? Email us.