SAN FRANCISCO (05/04/2000) - Although the ultrahigh-speed IEEE 1394 interface is growing popular, it's still not in the mainstream for many PC users. Iomega Corp. is merging into that lane with the release of an IEEE 1394 adapter for the Universal Serial Bus version of its Zip 250MB drive.
Available immediately, the adapter retails for US$79.95. It requires a PC equipped with an IEEE 1394 port, and it works with Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows 2000. Macintosh users running OS 8.6 through 9.0 can also take advantage of it. The 1394 interface is known as Firewire in Mac implementations, and Sony calls it iLink.
IEEE 1394 is a speed demon, capable of moving data more than 30 times faster than Universal Serial Bus. Its most common use is as an interface for digital camcorders and some high-end, high-speed specialized peripherals such as scanners and hard drives. The Zip drive implementation extends its reach.
The Zip IEEE 1394 adapter plugs between the external Zip USB 250 and your PC's IEEE 1394 port. According to an Iomega representative, it makes a major difference in data transfer speed, boosting it from 900 kilobits per second to faster than 2 megabits per second.
If your PC's IEEE 1394 interface has a 6-pin jack, as most do, it can also supply DC power to the Zip drive. This eliminates the need for one of those pesky "wall wart" power supplies.
The typical street price for the Zip 250 USB drive is about $180; a version with both a USB port and a PC Card connector for laptops sells for $210.
Meanwhile, if your current PC isn't equipped with IEEE 1394, you have a new option. D-Link has joined the group of PC board makers offering an add-in IEEE 1394 card.
The D-Link DFW-500 IEEE 1394 Adapter is priced at $109 and is available immediately. It has three external 6-pin jacks and requires a free PCI slot, 32MB of RAM, and Windows 98 SE or 2000.
Although D-Link says the DFW-500 works with virtually any "Pentium class or above" CPU, PC World test experience shows that a minimum of a Pentium II 300 is required to keep up with IEEE 1394 fast data-transfer ability. Data traveling between a digital camcorder and a PC, for example, moves at 3.6M bps (bits per second).