Following Iomega's move into the optical end of the storage business, comes the ZipCD 650 USB. This is an external drive that reads, writes and rewrites CDs but uses a USB port to do so. This is great for those set-ups where a number of PCs need to share a drive - but they ought to be at the same location as this drive won't fit in any pockets.
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Rewritable drives are extremely useful for copying data from one place to another. Today's burners, CD-R as well as CD-RW, are ideal for getting all the MP3s you download during a hard day at the office back home. An external drive also means that you can share it with other colleagues creating MP3s from CDs they own solely for their personal use.
The drive itself is about the size of a hardback history of Europe but weighs rather more. It has been given some of the stylish Iomega design treatment, sporting a fetching purple cover and a rounded shape. The 650 is a 4x4x6 drive so, while it has an average 4x write and rewrite speed, it is not going to win any contests for fastest CD reader with its 6x capability. By comparison, Iomega's internal CD-RW is 4x4x24.
Setting it up is relatively straightforward - simply install the software then plug in the drive. Being USB, it should run fairly smoothly. The software is fairly standard, consisting of Adaptec's Easy CD Creator 3.5 and DirectCD 2.5. The former is for single-session recording of either data or audio CDs, while the latter gives you drag-and-drop, Windows Explorer functionality. You can use the drive like any other drive on your machine. The latest versions are 4.02 and 2.0 respectively so it is a pity that the deal with Adaptec didn't extend to the latest versions.
Avery's Media Software for creating CD labels and jewel-case inserts is also included, as is Iomega's own Quiksync - a real-time folder-level back-up and versioning system. This simply copies a folder's changed contents to CD at set intervals, optionally saving versions.
I have two complaints about this drive. One is the size and the other is that I would really like it to read/write DVDs too. Iomega are being tight-lipped about upcoming products but you can see where they are going.