Feb 022001
 

We rent computer time at my place of employment and have five G4 Macs, each equipped with an external (USB) Imation SuperDisk Drive. In the year I’ve been there we’ve gone through a total of twelve of these drives, without a single one lasting the entire year.

The Concept

The concept for the SuperDisk drive is an excellent one. This single drive is capable of using both standard 1.4mb 3.5″ floppies and high-capacity 120mb SuperDisks. Considering this is essentially two drives is has a very small footprint (7.75″x5.25″x1.5″) although the fact that it can only operate in the horizontal position does limit its placement possibilities.

The Problems

1)Compatibility-
These drives have been around for a couple of years now and very few people have them. Every night a dozen people or more come in to my store with Zip disks, but in over a year only two people have brought in SuperDisks. So, if you plan on exchanging data with others, disk compatibility can be an issue.

2)Disk Identification-
About 30% of the time, the drive either fails to recognize that a disk has been inserted or simply continues to spin eternally (I actually let one run for three hours one night before cutting power). When this occurs the only way to remove the disk is to unplug the power cord. When power is restored to the drive the disk will automatically eject.

Once the drive does acknowledge that a disk has been inserted, it only properly identifies whether the disk is a standard floppy or a SuperDisk. Not only will the drive not read an improperly identified disk, but it will attempt to reformat the disk (thus destroying any existing data).

3)Access Time-
The stats for the USB SuperDisk list the average seek time as 60ms and the maximum transfer rate as 700kb/s, yet this is the slowest drive I’ve ever seen. Assuming the disk is recognized and properly identified, it still takes as long as five minutes for the icon to appear on the desktop. Filling a disk with data can take as long as ten minutes (for either a SuperDisk or a standard floppy!). While I don’t have actual numbers on file load time, a significant number of customers comment on the drives slow load time as well.

Summary

I can find absolutely nothing to recommend this drive. I suppose if you got it (and some disks) really cheap it would make a decent backup device, but considering they’re the same (or higher) cost as a Zip dive, I’d take the latter any day.

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