Castlewood Orb 2.2GB USB

The Orb is a 2.2GB drive based on magnetic media, giving higher speed than optical storage solutions. While USB gives the drive greater flexibility, it also introduces a speed penalty.

The USB version of the Orb supports both PC and Macintosh platforms. With its 130cm cable, the Orb should be a comfortable fit for most desktop setups. The Orb actually has a SCSI interface, which is converted to USB by an adaptor built into the cable, meaning that you can also use it as an external SCSI device. You could even daisy-chain a number of these drives and connect the whole string to the computer through USB, if you wanted.

The installation instructions are very detailed, but could be confusing to computer newcomers, especially since the adapter cable and the location of the drivers were different from the descriptions in the manual. Apart from this, the installation went smoothly.

The speed of the drive was somewhat slower than the SCSI version of the same device, taking three and a half minutes to write 100Mb, but only two minutes and five seconds to read the same amount of data. This is about average for an external USB drive, since data transfer rates are limited to a maximum of 12Mbps.

The data cartridges have an unusual shape, and the drive makes interesting sounds when you insert one. The Orb also has some visible moving parts under its rounded, translucent casing, so I'd have to say this is one of the more entertaining mass storage devices on the market. While the Orb is slower than its chief rival, the Iomega Jaz, it's also quite a bit less expensive.

Castlewood Orb 2.2GB USB External

Price: $599 including one 2.2GB cartridge, 2.2GB cartridge $99Phone: (02) 9453 5952URL: www.castlewood.com

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