Despite being more susceptible to damage and data failure than their magnetic competitors, CDs are far more versatile, cheaper and easier to transport between PCs. Perhaps this is why Iomega has taken the plunge and released its own CD-RW drive.
In an unusual move for Iomega, the price of the ZipCD is at the mid to lower end of a very competitive market. However there have been some compromises: the burner uses the less desirable IDE connection rather than the more reliable SCSI card. It is clearly a cost saving measure as Iomega has shipped many of its products (Zip, Jaz and Buz) with its own proprietary cards in the past. So pop up the bonnet of your PC and make sure you have a spare IDE channel.
The unit's specifications are 24x, 4x, 4x (24 speed read, 4 speed write, 4 speed re-writable) which is slower than SCSI models from TEAC or other manufacturers. How-ever, don't be conned by the speed issue: important data should be written at single speed on any home CD burner, with 4x being the maximum for audio CDs. Failure rates climb quite considerably with speed.
Despite the "adequate" hardware of the ZipCD, the most impressive feature is the bundled software.
The burner software is Adaptec's DirectCD and Easy CD, currently the best and friendliest product on the market. You also get a copy of Avery Media software for creating labels, and Iomega's QuikSync - an automated backup program that I've found to be overkill when it comes to archiving files.
However the big drawcard is a limited edition copy of Photoshop. It is clearly designed to sway people toward Iomega's product since it has very little to do with burning CDs. Remember, this is a "limited" edition and many features of the full product are absent - not recommended for middle to high-end users.
All up, the ZipCD provides a good opportunity for the home user to buy a CD-RW burner from a reliable manufacturer, albeit with some sacrifices that hardcore geeks may not want to make.
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