Iomega touts 1.5GB micro drive as Flash killer

Clik! all over again?

Iomega is having another go at getting its removable disk technology incorporated into devices other than PCs.

This time it's touting a micro-drive system based on a 1.5GB disk encased in a stainless steel cartridge that's a couple of inches in diameter and weighs 9g.

Iomega calls the unit a Digital Capture Technology (DCT), and it's pushing the product at consumer electronics vendors as an alternative to Flash-based solid-state storage technologies. DCT drives, it says, will offer higher capacities, be more resilient, offer faster data access times and consume less power than today's portable storage solutions. They're also too expensive - Iomega says the DCT will be a "low-cost" solution.

The trouble is, Flash formats are now well-established. And since there are arguably too many Flash formats as it is, do consumers need yet another format to worry about. As it stands, while your camera uses CompactFlash, your PDA uses SD cards and your PC might only take Memory Sticks, forcing you to maintain stacks of different storage products for different devices. No wonder all-in-one media readers are proving so popular.

Iomega also has a heritage of failed attempts to convince the consumer electronics world that removable disk technology is the way to go. It tried to tout Zip as a medium for home entertainment systems, and it once had a go with its 40MB Clik! micro-drive system. Both products had big advantages over solid-state technologies, but neither was able to make a dent in the market.

Clik! was launched in 1998 with the backing of Compaq and Agfa, but we can't recall a single Compaq system that supported the technology. Ditto Agfa. Clik! was eventually rebranded PocketZip in 2000. You can still by the disks for around $10 a pop, and you can still buy USB and PC Card drives, but Iomega now classes these as "legacy" products.

This time round, Iomega lists Fujifilm, Citizen and Texas Instruments among the companies evaluating the technology. Fuji's involvement runs deeper than technology evaluation: it provided the magnetic material, dubbed Nanocubic, used to coat each disk.

"[DCT] media will provide a potential recording capacity of up to 6Gb per square inch by applying Nanocubic, which will be about 10 times higher in recording density than magnetic disks that are currently available," said Toshio Kawamata, general manager of Fujifilm's Technical Division, part of its Recording Media Products Division. ®

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