Comparison of Zip and EZ-135 drives

From Higher Intellect Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

From: (F. Neumann)
Subject: Comparison of Zip and EZ-135 drives

This is the second (and hopefully the last!) revision of my comparison of the
Zip and EZ drives. I corrected a very confusing typo (thanks to Dan Hoefferth
for pointing it out) and I removed the rumour about Zips causing problems with
internal CD-ROM drives. (I've had many messages from people working with such
configurations telling me they had encountered no problems whatsoever.)

Zip vs. EZ-135: A Comparison

version 1.1

This is a comparison of two low-capacity low-cost mass storage devices,
Iomega's Zip drive and SyQuest's EZ-135 drive. The comparison is based on
opionions of users of both drives sent to me by e-mail, and also on some
information pulled from www pages. It was compiled by Florin Neumann

This file is formatted as setext. It can be read with any text editor,
but a setext-compatible browser, such as Akif Eyler's EasyView, is
required for full benefits of the setext format.


If ease of use, portability, cross-platform communication, and
availability are important, then Zip would be the better choice.

If speed, cartridge capacity, and flexibility in integration with other
SCSI devices are important, and if you're willing to put up with
waiting for back-ordered cartridges, and if megabyte/$ is important to
you, then the EZ would be the better choice.

Putting it in another way, if I had a PowerBook or a low-end system,
and/or I wanted the user-friendliest drive, and/or I wanted to make
sure that I could exchange data with more people, then I'd get a Zip.
But if I had a higher-end system, with several devices on the SCSI bus
and I wanted to keep all my options open as to how to id them, and if I
really cared about speed and capacity, but I didn't mind having to go
through a convoluted ritual each time I swapped a disk, then I'd get
the EZ.

Personal Opinion

After reading all the opinions sent to me, and after trying out both
drives at a local dealer, I decided on the Zip drive. The main reasons

(a) price (the drive is cca. US$20 cheaper; the cartridges cca. US$5

(b) availability (no dealer I contacted had EZ cartridges in stock; I had
    no real trouble finding Zip cartridges);

(c) convenience (mounting/dismounting a disk on the EZ is a real hassle
    compared to the Zip, which behaves just like a floppy).

(d) better software driver (not only it uses less memory, but it is also
    present as an application, which allows for mounting the disks even
    when the Mac is booted with extensions off).

As to the Zip's shortcomings, this is what I think:

(1) Capacity (96M vs 126 of the EZ). Sure, larger disks would be nice,
    but one can't have everything.

(2) Speed. Doesn't bother me; I intend to use it mainly as a back-up
    device, but it can be used as boot device or to run applications.

(3) SCSI ID. No problem. All my other external SCSI devices can by set to
    any SCSI ID, so it doesn't matter (SCSI ID numbers have no connexion
    to physical position on the SCSI bus).

(4) No ON/OFF switch. Couldn't care less. I use a power centre for my Mac
    and external drives anyway.



EZ  Hard disk technology. Re-engineered Winchester-type SyQuest

ZIP Combination of flexible and hard disk technology. Does not use
    Iomega's proprietary Bernoulli technology.

Compatibility with Other Formats

Both the EZ and the Zip read/write only their own formats. They are
not compatible with anything else. The EZ cartridge looks like a SyQuest
270 cartridge, but it can't be read in a SyQuest 270, and the EZ can't
read SyQuest 270 cartridges.

One respondent mentioned that Compaq is poised to come out with a drive
that will read 1.44M floppies, as well as a new 100M format, but he
oubted that this new drive would become available for the Macintosh.


Both drives seem to be very reliable. I haven't had a single bad report
on either of them; but it's early days yet...

EZ  Based on the SyQuest technology, which has a known track-record;
    in general it is fairly reliable as a back-up and temporary storage
    device, but not as a primary storage device.

ZIP Based on new mechanism, without a known track-record. However,
    Iomega is known as a reputable company, and its Bernoulli drives
    are considered to be technically excellent (but use different


EZ  Drive available by mail order and from dealers. Cartridges more
    difficult to come by, only by mail order or from selected dealers.
    Back-ordered at every dealer I checked with.

ZIP Drive available by mail order, from dealers, and from computer
    superstores. Cartridges readily available from the same sources.

Comparative Cost

DRIVES      EZ is $20-$50 more expensive than the Zip, depending on source.

CARTRIDGES  EZ cartridges are $4-$8 more expensive than Zip cartridges,
            again depending on source. In megabyte/$, EZ cartridges are
            about 120% more cost-effective than the Zips.

Speed and Capacity

CARTRIDGES  EZs format to 126M; Zips format to 96M.

DRIVE       EZ av. access time is 13ms; Zip av. access time is 30ms; in
            practice the EZ is 50% to 80% faster.


DRIVE       EZ is bulkier and heavier than the Zip, and can only be used
            in horizontal position. Both use external power sources, which
            are pretty heavy themselves.

CARTRIDGES  Both are 3.5'' diameter cartridges. EZs are about 4 times
            thicker and somewhat heavier.

On/Off Switching

EZ  Has on/off switch.

ZIP Doesn't have on/off switch; is on as soon as the power source is
    plugged in.

SCSI Cable

EZ  Has standard 50-pin SCSI connector. Can be connected to the Mac with
    the usual 25-to-50-pin SCSI cable, or to other SCSI devices via
    50-to-50-pin SCSI cable.

ZIP Has non-standard 25-pin SCSI connector. Can be connected to the
    Mac with a 25-to-25-pin SCSI cable (supplied). Requires 25-to-50-pin
    SCSI cable (like the one used to connect the Mac to the SCSI chain)
    to connect to other SCSI devices.


EZ  Can choose any legal SCSI ID number, but ID button is flimsy and
    hard to reach.

ZIP Can only choose between IDs 5 and 6, but ID button is easy to use.

Swapping Cartridges

EZ  Inconvenient. Behaves like a standard SyQuest drive. Have to
    dismount, spin down, and manually eject the cartridge.

ZIP Convenient. Behaves like a floppy. Drag to trash and it ejects
    automatically; likewise upon shutting down the Mac.

Software Driver

EZ  Rather poorly designed.

ZIP Well designed. "Guest" option allows installation of driver in
    RAM for temporary use on other Macs than the owner's. It also 
    allows for the mounting of ther disk even if the Mac was booted
    with extensions off. (Something Apple should imitate for their 
    CD-ROM drives, which can't be mounted whent the Mac is booted 
    with extensions off.)

Bundled software

EZ  Not good, except Silverlining Lite, included on EZs ordered from
    La Cie.

ZIP Mediocre.

Use as a Boot Device

Both can be used as start-up disks.

Customer base

Zip has wider customer base than the EZ, but it has been out half a year
earlier. It has caused more of an impact in the Mac market than the PC
market, but I've seen some local PC dealers offering Zips; I have seen
none offering EZs.

Also PowerComputing is offering as an option internal Zip drives with
their PowerMac clones.

Cross-platform communication

EZ  ?

ZIP Can read PC-formatted Zip cartridges with PC Exchange, although
    Access PC may be more reliable.


(I had no way to check these, so I put them in as I received them.)

EZ  "EZ 135 platters are Syquest 270 platters that failed the quality
    checks on one side of the platter"

WWW Information Sources

*  MacWeek Zip Review

*  MacWeek EZ Review

*  Zip Technical Specifications

*  EZ Technical Specifications

*  Zip Propaganda

*  EZ Propaganda

*  Unofficial Zip Drive FAQ

*  Unofficial SyQuest FAQ

*  Unofficial Iomega Page


The comparison is based on information received from the following
Info-Mac subscribers (many thanks, folks!).

     Chris Eliot
     David Croze
     David J. Swift
     Dean Johnson
     Fred J. Berg
     George McClelland
     Greg Delisle
     Greg Vaughn
     Hugh Vidos
     Jim Hill
     Jimmy Wu
     Larry Pickett
     Michael B. Dixon
     Michael Peirce
     Moshe Sadofsky
     Pat Ullmann
     Patrick Atherton
     Sanjay Mathur
     Shih-Tung Ngiam
     Stephen Bennett
     Tim Lewallen
     Dan Hoefferth

  Florin Neumann

See Also

Share your opinion