• Price: 249

  • Company: Iomega

  • Pros: The low cost of additional cartridges makes the REV a real rival to tape and DVD archiving systems pros The low cost of additional cartridges makes the REV a real rival to tape and DVD archiving systems pros The low cost of additional cartridges makes the REV a real rival to tape and DVD archiving systems pros The low cost of additional cartridges makes the REV a real rival to tape and DVD archiving systems pros The low cost of additional cartridges makes the REV a real rival to tape and DVD archiving systems

  • Cons: The drive unit seems a little lightweight, and the lack of full Mac support limits it appeal for the design market.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 6 out of 10 We rate this 6 out of 10

There was a time when every self-respecting designer had an Iomega Jazz drive sitting on the desk. The Jazz drive’s removable hard disk cartridges were a handy and cost-effective way of backing up files or sharing them with colleagues, but they were limited to just 2GB, and were soon eclipsed by technologies that offered both higher capacity and lower prices, such as the DVD.

A couple of years ago, Iomega came up with its Peerless drive. This was effectively an updated version of the Jazz drive that used 10GB and 20GB cartridges. However, the disk cartridges were far too expensive and the Peerless drive never really caught on.

Undeterred, Iomega has now released its new REV drives, which look like a much more attractive proposition. The capacity has increased to a healthy 35GB, and the cartridges are affordable enough to compete with rival technologies such as DVD, blue-laser, and tape storage.

Like the Jazz, the REV drive consists of a main drive unit, into which you can insert removable hard disk cartridges. The main drive unit is compact, measuring just 4-x-6-x-1.5 inches (W-x-D-x-H). Our review unit was an external model, equipped with a USB 2.0 interface, but there’s an internal version available too. FireWire and SCSI versions will be available in a couple of months.

Big Mac problem

The drive unit costs £249 plus VAT and is supplied with a single 35GB cartridge. That might seem a little pricey, but the main attraction is the cost of additional disks. Each 35GB disk costs just under £40, which is pretty good when you consider the fact that a conventional 40GB hard disk can cost you the best part of £100. A minor criticism of the main unit is that it is constructed out of fairly lightweight plastic. Given that it costs almost £300 we’d like it to be a bit more solidly built, especially if it’s going to be passed around an office and shared by several users.

The only major problem is that the REV drive isn’t fully Mac-compatible, which is a bit daft if Iomega is serious about selling the REV into the video and graphics markets. The USB 2.0 version that we tested isn't Mac compatible - though Mac's have supported the connection since the launch of the G5. A Mac-friendly FireWire version is on the way, but differentiating platforms by connection is frankly silly.

There are plenty of PC-based designers of course, but without Mac support they won’t be able to share REV disks with Mac-using colleagues or output bureaux. As a result, the REV will probably appeal mainly to PC-based corporate users who are looking for an affordable alternative to existing tape archiving systems.