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Iomega's Zip and SyQuest's EZ135
Removable Drives For Everybody!

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by Kass Johns
Originally written January 1996, for Corel/DTP Magazine of Lisbon, Portugal.
Prices updated June 1996 for The Computer Paper of Vancouver, BC, Canada.
June/July 1996 for %%timeout The journal of IDIA

[little updated icon] NOTE: This article was originally written in December 1995. It is still accurate to compare product features. However, prices are changing weekly. Updated (Summer 96) info at bottom of the article.

The kings of removable storage, SyQuest and Iomega, have introduced affordable new entry-level removable storage solutions--the Zip from Iomega and the SyQuest EZ135. With these products arriving at a street price around $200 US for the drive, and $20 US per 100MB+ cartridge, the removable market has just become affordable to most computer users. These products debuted in the Summer of 1995. The Zip came first and with promises of low cost backup and transport, they were a fast success. SyQuest later followed with their EZ135 and slightly more capacity, at around the same price.

With the addition of the 1-gigabyte capacity of removable storage devices just introduced, this places removable products in three distinct user levels.

lower capacity, consumer home user, small business user, backup, travelers

  • Iomega Zip
  • SyQuest EZ135

mid-range capacity, utilizing extensive existing user-base, desktop publishing, service bureaus seeking user compatibility
My guess is that this product line (from each vendor) will be phased out gradually.

  • Iomega Bernoulli (35MB to 230MB capacity cartridges)
  • SyQuest (5.25 inch platters: 44, 88, 200)
  • SyQuest (3.5 inch platters: 130, 270)

high capacity, high-end prepress, CAD/CAM, multimedia and video users, mass storage needed

  • Iomega Jaz (1 GB) "now shipping" (still waiting?)
  • SyQuest SyJET (1.3 GB) shipping 1996

At this time, the three levels are not cross-compatible within their own brands. The future may see a change to that. The EZ135 cartridge is the same cartridge as the mid-level SyQuest 3.5-inch 270MB cartridge (but you cannot use the 270s on the EZ). With the EZ135 technology, only one side of the platter is written. I predict that future versions of the EZ drives will cross-read/write across product levels (see July update at end). The Bernoulli, Zip and Jaz cartridges are three unique physical cartridges.

For this article, we focus on the two hot consumer-level products, the Zip and the EZ135. Specifications for these two products follows.

Iomega Zip and SyQuest EZ135 Specs
Iomega Zip SyQuest EZ135
Capacity 100MB 135MB
Formatted Capacity (Macintosh) 94.2MB 125.9MB
Operating System Compatability DOS, Windows, Mac, OS/2 DOS, Windows, Mac, OS/2
Interface (external, except noted) SCSI, Parallel SCSI II, internal ATA/IDE
Drive Weight 1.05 lbs 2.3 lbs
Disk Cartridge Weight .09 lbs 2.9 oz (.23 lbs)
Power Brick Weight with cord 5 oz. (.31 lbs) 1.5 lbs
Power Cord Length 4 feet, 11 inches 6 feet, 8 inches
Drive Dimensions (inches) 1.5 H, 5.35 W, 7.26 L 2.08 H, 4.8 W, 8.45 L
Disk Cartridge Dimensions (inches) .25 H, 4 W, 4 L .39 H, 3.83 W, 3.88 L
Drive Warranty 1 year 2 years
Disk Cartridge Warranty limited lifetime 5 years
Sustained Transfer Rate up to 1.4MB/sec 1.4 to 2.4MB/sec
Seek Time 29 milliseconds 13.5 milliseconds
Drive w/1 Cartridge (street cost) $200 to 220.00 US $240.00 US
Single Cartridge (street cost) $19.95 US (100MB) $24.95 US (135MB)
On SCSI Models...
Iomega Zip SyQuest EZ135
SCSI Ports Twin 25-pin ports Twin 50-pin ports
SCSI Cables included 25/25-pin 25/50-pin
SCSI Termination Switchable/built-in 50-pin terminator included

The cartridge technology used in each system is different. The Zip uses a flexible disk platter with a Winchester head. The EZ135 uses standard Winchester hard disk platter and head.

Bundled Products

Bundled Software with Zip...

Iomega Tools (a diagnostic utility), Zip Tour (marketing demo), Iomega Guest (utility used to mount across systems), Iomega Zip manuals/help documents, DiskDup Pro Starter (disk & cartridge duplication utility), Personal BackUp Starter, VirtualDisk Starter (cataloging with label software EasyLabels Starter), Marathon and Pathways (games).

MS/DOS & Windows:
No information available. Assumed to be similar to the SyQuest product.

Bundled Software with EZ135...

Silverlining Lite (driver/diagnostic utility), DiskFit Direct* (backup), PowerMerge* (File synchronization), VirtualDisk Lite (cataloging with label software EasyLabels Starter), Paint Alchemy* (Photoshop plug-in), Marathon and Pathways (games).

MS-DOS & Windows:
Enhanced SyQuest Utilities for DOS & Windows, Personal Archiver (disk storage manager), PaperClip* (image & fax management), Media Wrangler* (multimedia authoring), Enhanced SyQuest install programs (including ASPI SCSI managers from most HBA suppliers and database of IDE jumper settings)

* Denotes full-function software. Many softwares here are limited but can be upgraded to full-function versions at a nominal fee. Each EZ135 drive cartridge contains both Mac and Windows-compatible software. This bundled software is available on all cartridges, not just the ones shipped in the drive box.

Each drive comes with a flyer of additional accessories available to purchase. These include carry cases and universal power adapters. It is recommended that if you intend to transport between locations regularly, buy an additional power adapter for the other location, carrying only the drive and cartridges back and forth. Note: Iomega also has 25 MB cartridges available for the Zip.

The Test

I installed each drive on a Macintosh IIci system with: Daystar PowerCache 50mhz, 32MB RAM, 105MB Hard Disk, Silverlining 5.3 drivers, SCSIProbe 3.5sq, no additional external SCSI devices. During tests, the drive being tested was the only external device installed. I copied the contents of the 105 internal drive onto the two removables to simulate a backup. There were a total of 1016 files occupying 90.5MB hard disk space. I use Symantec's CopyDoubler (v 2.04) extension for copying. This lists the total throughput and read/write/verify speeds. I had no errors when performing these tests.

Copy Tests
Iomega Zip SyQuest EZ135
Total Copy Time (minutes:seconds:100/sec) 18:45:36 15:08:55
Total Throughput (beginning) 171k/sec 190k/sec
Read/Write/Verify (beginning) 414k/535k/498k/sec 434k/781k/666k/sec
Total Throughput (at 2 minutes) 161k/sec 186k/sec
Read/Write/Verify (at 2 minutes) 300k/339k/498k/sec 294k/510k/638k/sec
Total Throughput (at 4 minutes) 106k/sec 124k/sec
Read/Write/Verify (at 4 minutes) 287k/315k/314k/sec 281k/385k/414k/sec
Total Throughput (at 6 minutes) 101k/sec 123k/sec
Read/Write/Verify (at 6 minutes) 294k/275k/310k/sec 290k/380k/427k/sec
Total Throughput (at 10 minutes) 84k/sec 102k/sec
Read/Write/Verify (at 10 minutes) 272k/216k/266k/sec 263k/295k/368k/sec

Pros and Cons Applicable to Both Products...

(Indicated by a plus or minus sign at each item)

+ Both drives are impressively quiet.

+ Easy of installation. I plugged the equipment in and mounted the included disk without installing the software. I have always hated extra extensions and drivers that were not needed. I did install the drivers just to test them and had no problem and no incompatability.

+ Both drives have printed documentation for each platform within the package. Each instruction sheet is only an 11 by 17 inch single sheet of paper printed both sides--no lengthy manual.

- The power bricks have the electrical plug on the brick itself. Don't we have a hard enough time finding room in our surge bar for plugs, let alone large over-sized power brick plugs? Vendors: Please place the brick further down the cord than at the end. Give us a standard plug on the end of the cord. (Puuuh-leez!)

- The free cartridges that come with each drive are a bit misleading. The flyers and marketing materials boast that the drive comes with your first cartridge. You may not realize that the drive software and free bundled software come on your new "free" backup cartridge! And just where are you supposed to backup that software? Iomega calls that initial cartridge different than their others--it is called Zip Tools. Other cartridges from Iomega are named Zip Disk and have only a small marketing text file pre-installed on them. (Additional EZ135 cartridges come with the same software as the initial cartridge.)

- Because of the popularity of these products, speaking with support at the vendors may be difficult. The automated toll-free numbers (US) warn of 20 to 30 minute wait times before being able to speak with tech support. You may be better off getting support online. Each vendor has an extensive FaxBack system with many troubleshooting tech notes, especially for PC users. SyQuest's FaxBack is toll free in the US.

Specific Pros and Cons to Each Product


My setup: The Zip was set to ID 5 and termination activated. The termination is built in. An on/off switch on the back sets the termination and a separate switch selects SCSI ID 5 or 6. I connected it with a 25 to 25-pin SCSI cable (included) directly to the Macintosh.

Zip Pros
+ Very lightweight, drive and cartridge. Even with the power brick it is light. The brick itself is much lighter than the one I have with my modem. I was very impressed with the portability. Great for use with notebook computers. The power cord recesses into the side of the drive for vertical use so it does not affect stability of the drive.

+ The see-through window on the drive allows you to read the label contents while inserted. This is a definite benefit. With normal removable media, the only thing in easy view is the end label (if you labeled it!). With the Zip, you can see the entire label on the top of the cartridge while inside the drive.

+ The Zip puts itself to sleep after a period of inactivity to conserve power. It seems to wake instantaneously.

Zip Cons
- No on/off switch. If you wish to turn the equipment off for an extended period of inactivity, you are instructed to unplug the power brick.

- Slower (when compared to the SyQuest drive)

- Upon restart, the Zip always ejected itself. I was a bit annoyed when I had to re-insert the cartridge each restart. (I restart frequently when testing new software and hardware.) The instructions with the Zip often repeat the warning that the Zip should be powered up before inserting or ejecting media. I have never had this requirement with SyQuest media and it makes me nervous as to why this instruction needs repeating. I often insert and eject media with power down on a SyQuest.

- The short cable length of the power cord annoyed me and limited my placement of the Zip on my desk top.


My setup: The EZ135 was set to ID 5. I connected it with a 25 to 50-pin cable (included) and the 50-pin standard grey terminator (included) directly to the Macintosh. The included terminator was neither pass-through nor active.

EZ135 Pros
+ Speed. They boast twice the speed in marketing materials, but my test did not show that much of an increase, but it was enough to make it more pleasant.

+ Larger capacity. 135MB (125.9MB formatted). More storage is always a good thing.

+ The EZ drive has twin 50-pin ports, external termination and external fully-switchable ID (0 to 6).

+ Nice SCSI ID switch. I like the recessed externally switchable ID switch. You must use a pen or something with a point to depress the up or down advancing buttons. This is a welcome change from the existing mainstay of SCSI switches. Too often, an unwary user places their hand in the back to power down and accidently hits the advance button to reset the ID, often causing the system to become confused upon restart or next power up. I really like this new switch.

EZ135 Cons
- Weight. The power brick alone is extemely heavy. The power brick for the EZ weighs more than the Zip drive with its brick.

- The eject/insert mechanism is not as nice as it is on the larger SyQuest drives, likely a victim of cost cutting to keep price down. The levers and buttons seem a bit small. I suspect that men (with larger hands) could find this annoying.

Factors to consider when deciding which product to buy...

Tech support and these drives tend to be in short supply as demand has far exceeded production. Your wait time to actually get product may be a factor to consider. They are in short supply in the US, so shipping schedules are likely to be bad outside the US.

How do you intend to use removable media? If you are intending it as local backup and not for exchange of files with anyone else (ever), then you could select either one and likely not go wrong. But, if you are planning to transport files to/from a collaborator, client or service provider, first find out what they use. Unless you are a highly valuable, regular client, they will likely not purchase a specific brand to match your equipment, unless you pay for it. It is critical to match what will be used by the people on the other end of your to/from transport.

Don't be the only one you know with a new technology. It helps to know others who also have the same equipment for cross-support. The vendor's tech support alone may not be enough (and how many times have we found that so in other products?). Friends and acquaintances can be contacted quickly and maybe they have already solved the problem you may just now be experiencing. Even if it cannot be solved, it may be of comfort to know that you are not nuts, someone else experienced the same odd event.

Service and support. Price? Features? Capacity? Nothing is more valuable than your time. If you bought a product at bargain basement prices and then had nothing but problems with it, where is your value? Service and support vary upon your geographical location, as well as that particular vendor's support structure. Investigate first. Ask your friends and business associates. User groups and professional trade groups may also have recommendations. Find out more about this often-overlooked "feature" before you buy. I would rather pay more to get peace of mind in my work, than save a few dollars. My time, clients and deadlines are more valuable to me in the long run.

If you need removables as places to backup, archive and transport, then either of these drives will do. I really don't think you can go wrong with either of these products. It just depends on your configuration and projected use. Speed, portability, and warranty are the primary differences in these two drives.

Updated information Summer 1996

In June 1996, the EZ135 was reduced in price to $119 for the drive. Cartridge prices remain the same. SyQuest has also delivered another product, the EZFlyer 230 which reads and writes 135MB EZ cartridges, as well as its own new 230MB cartridges. The EZFlyer is $299 for the drive and $29 per 230MB cartridge. The EZ135 drive is due to be dropped this fall/winter from existing product lines. It has outlived it's marketing lifeline (as many computer products do). The EZFlyer takes its place.

Speculation is that Iomega will release a 200MB Zip in the coming months. A $50 rebate is presently being offered on the 100MB Zip to compete with SyQuest's EZ135 price drop.

PRICE DISCLAIMER: I will no longer be responsible for prices quoted in this article. Iomega and SyQuest are treating these drives, as well as the Jaz as commodity items. Prices are dropping weekly! Call your local reseller or mail order company for the most up-to-date prices.

Contact Information for Each Vendor

Iomega, Corporation

1821 West Iomega Way
Roy, Utah 84067 USA
In the US...
801-778-3450 fax
800-456-5522 (tech support)
801-778-3000 (tech support)
801-392-9819 BBS (avail 24 hours, 1200-14.4 baud)
801-778-5763 FaxBack

In Europe...
BBS 49-0-761-4504444 (avail 24 hours)

E-mail: info@iomega.com
AOL: Iomega
CompuServe: Go MACCVEN
WWWeb: http://www.iomega.com/

SyQuest Technology, Inc.

47071 Bayside Parkway
Fremont, CA 94538 USA
In the US...
800-249-2440 tech support & FaxBack
510-226-4102 fax
510-656-0473 BBS (up to 28.8)

In Europe...
Voice: 32-11-673140
Fax: 32-11-683525
BBS: 32-11-683525

In Asia...
Voice: 65-294-8484
Fax: 65-294-7277

E-mail: support@syquest.com or sales@syquest.com
WWWeb: http://www.syquest.com/

Visit our home page to link to more articles about SyQuest and SCSI!

Author Bio:
Based in Colorado Springs,Colorado (US), Kass Johns has been a DTP/Macintosh manager/systems integrator for a 100 node publishing network for the last seven years (where she had over 100 SyQuest drives and over 1000 cartridges). She has a degree in design and is presently doing private consultation as an Electronic Publishing Systems Integrator. E-mail her on the Internet at: kass at kassj dot com or on CompuServe at: 73664,2754. Visit her site on the World Wide Web at: http://www2.csn.net/~kassj/

Related original articles on this site...

SyQuest Buying FAQ: Part I of IV -- Initial Buying Questions
SyQuest Buying FAQ: Part II of IV -- Entry-Level & IGB Removables
SyQuest Buying FAQ: Part III of IV -- Troubleshooting
SyQuest Buying FAQ: Part IV of IV -- Contacting SyQuest

SyQuest 5.25" Drive Error Tables
Iomega's Zip versus SyQuest's EZ135 Comparison Article (28k html)
SCSI Manager 4.3 & Mounting Removables (17k html)

© Copyright 1996-2001 by Kass Johns, all rights reserved world wide.
The opinions and recommendations stated here are solely those of the author and are not the responsibility of anyone else. This is an independent publication not affiliated or otherwise associated with, sponsored by, or sanctioned by any vendor. We state here that we have used trademark names in this publication for editorial purposes only, with no intent to infringe on those trademarks. Permission is granted to copy this document for personal use only for *non-commercial* purposes, in electronic or printed form, provided that this copyright notice is not removed. This work may not be used on another Web site or online service, sold for profit, included within commercial works, or altered or changed in any way without the express written permission of the author.



© Copyright 1996-2001 v.7.5.00
Kass Johns
Technical Writer & Consultant to the Publishing & Telecommunications Industries
Colorado Springs, CO • www.kassj.com • 719/635-1306 (vc)
kass at kassj dot com

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