Comdex: Iomega expands Zip and pushes PDA storage

Iomega is hammering home its lead in removable storage media by more than doubling the capacity of its Zip drive and detailing plans to revolutionise storage for handheld computers, cameras and other small devices.
Written by Martin Veitch, Contributor

At Comdex, the company showed a 250Mb version of the 'Zip' drive that has become a 19 million sales hit over the last couple of years in its original 100Mb capacity. The new drives will ship in parallel port and SCSI versions as well as integral versions for PC makers and other devices. Iomega said the SCSI version will offer faster performance than the 100Mb Zip SCSI version thanks to optimisation work done by the company. The 250Mb Zip can also read and write to 100Mb disks. The 250Mb drives will ship by end of year in the US at about $199 (£124) with disks at under $17 (£11) each when bought in packs of 10.

Iomega also plans to have Zip drives embedded in a wide range of devices and showed a Microtek ImageDeck desktop scanner, Lexmark colour printer, Roland music sampler and set-top box with integral drives at the exhibition. UK availability may slip into early 1999. Iomega has just begun shipping a USB version of the 100Mb Zip drive.

After two previous Comdex shows demonstrating the technology, Iomega is also on the eve of delivering its Clik! tiny-format media. The two-ounce 40Mb Clik! disk drive is planned to ship by end of year or early in 1999. The drives will be available with choice of mobile PC (parallel port and PC Card Type II interfaces) at $199 (£124) or digital camera connection at $249 (£155). The camera version interfaces to CompactFlash or SmartMedia flash memory slots -- the standard form of storing images on most products in the category. The battery in the drive will last for 30 minutes in constant use according to Iomega, and the drives also fit into a docking device similar to that used by 3Com's Palm handheld computer.

Backing Iomega, Compaq said it planned to bundle Clik! with a version of its C-Series Windows CE-based handheld computer next year and an integrated version after that. Sharp also plans to offer handhelds and ultra-thin notebooks with Clik! storage and NEC is to produce an external USB drive. Clik! disks will cost about $10 (£6) each when bought in multi-packs.

Iomega said Clik! had had a long gestation because hardware makers had disapproved of the original 20Mb-capacity serial connection version that was then known as n.hand.

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