Iomega's new Jaz 2GB drive will never qualify as casual removable storage. After all, who feels comfortable carrying the contents of a small hard drive in their pocket? Unlike the 100MB Zip, the Jaz is designed for people with specific storage needs, from backup to video editing to running multiple operating systems. With these uses in mind, the Jaz is blazingly fast and very roomy, but at $649 ($549 internal) you'll pay for all that extra real estate. The initial cost of the Jaz 2GB is only the beginning. The drive comes standard with an Ultra SCSI interface--great if you use a Mac, but PC owners will need a SCSI card (Iomega sells one for $99). This jacks the price of the external drive up as high as $749. On top of that, each 2GB cartridge costs $169 (one cartridge comes with the drive). That works out to a low cost per megabyte of 8 cents, but all the initial overhead puts the Jaz out of the amateur storage user's league. The Jaz 2GB's major advantage over its predecessor and competing drives is speed. The Ultra SCSI interface and Winchester technology (similar to an internal hard drive) made for throughput speeds averaging 755.71 K/sec. on our tests. The Jaz 2GB also reads and writes the older 1GB cartridges from the original Jaz drive, so it's instantly compatible with the approximately 1 million Jaz 1GB drives out there. The Jaz 2GB comes with the standard set of Iomega Tools, including an AppMover program for easy software transport and the Guest software that lets you plug your Jaz into virtually any computer. For an extra $49.95 you can get Jaz Traveler, a parallel port adapter that lets you plug your drive into SCSI-less machines. One thing we would have liked to see is the cute little power adapter that comes with the ZipPlus instead of the clunkier AC adapter--which takes up two spaces on a power strip--Iomega includes with this latest drive. Iomega has no plans to retire the
old Jaz, but it has dropped the unit's price to a reasonable $299. If you're on a budget but you need gigabytes of storage, consider the Jaz 1GB or the parallel version of SyQuest's SparQ 1.0GB drive, which is slower, but costs less than half the price for drive and cartridges. But if nothing but the highest capacity and fastest speeds will do, the Jaz 2GB is your drive.