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Removable Storage

By Roland Hechtenberg


When I bought the Panasonic DVD-RAM drive LF-D100 together with the upgrade to Windows 98, I didn't know that there still was no driver for Windows 98 available, and accordingly I didn't install Windows 98 until a driver became available at the beginning of this month.

The Panasonic DVD-RAM drive LF-D100 can read and write DVD cartridges of nominally 2.6 and 5.2 GB and PD cartridges of 650 MB, and it can read DVD-ROM and carious flavors of CD-ROM. As I have been asked frequently about the speed, I decided to run a comparison test between the Zip drive, the Nomai (super SyQuest) drive, PD, Jaz drive, and the DVD drive.

As the Zip drive has the smallest capacity, I decided to use a file of 80 MB for the test. Files of this size can be obtained quite easily by copying a longer music track from a CD to the hard disk as a wav-file. I used the Send command of Explorer to copy the file and stopped the time with a stopwatch.When I started copying to the Zip drive, the indicator nearly immediately advanced to about 50% and the remaining time was indicated as 10 sec. Within one minute, the remaining time increased to 10 minutes, where it stayed for about 10 minutes, and then a message indicating that the file could not be copied appeared.

With the second try, the initial behavior was the same, but the file was copied successfully in 12 minutes and 19 seconds. Next, I tried the Nomai drive with a 540 MB cartridge. Here also, the indication initially was only 10 seconds, which rapidly increased to 10 minutes, but the file was copied in 43 seconds. Then I tried copying onto a PD cartridge with a capacity of 650 MB, which took 3 minutes and 13 seconds. Copying onto a Jaz cartridge with a capacity of 1 GB took 1 minute and 6 seonds.Finally I tried copying to DVD cartridges. As mentioned above, DVD cartridges are available in two sizes, 2.6 GB (where the disc can be removed from the cartridge for playing in a DVD-RAM) and 5.2 GB, where each side has a capacity of 2.6 GB and the cartridge must be removed and turned upside down to use the other side.

Depending on the format, the actual capacity of the cartridges is different. When the cartridge is formatted with FAT16 (FAT32 so far is not available), the actual capacity per side is 2 GB, while it is 2.3 GB with UDF (Universal Disc Format). Cartridges formatted with FAT16 are more suitable for many smaller files, while cartridges formatted with UDF are better for large files. Copying a file of 80 MB to a cartridge formatted with UDF took 2 minutes and 12 seconds, while copying to a FAT16 cartridge took 3 minutes and 13 seconds.

For comparison, copying the same file from one hard disk to another took 27 seconds.

And now a look at the media prices.

While I could get Zip cartridges for 999 Yen at BuyKing last week, the general price still seems to be around 1500 Yen. For the Nomai cartridges of 540 MB, I paid about 5000 Yen. PD cartridges with 650 MB now are down to 1300 Yen and sometimes even can be found for 1000 Yen. Jaz cartridges with 1 GB still are around 13,000 Yen. DVD-RAM cartridges with 5.2 GB (effectively 4.0 or 4.6 GB) have a list price of 4000 Yen, and I already bought some for 3500 Yen including tax.

The approximate prices for (external SCSI) drives are as follows.

  • Zip 17,000 Yen
  • Nomai 30,000 Yen
  • (with parallel port adapter)
  • PD 40,000 Yen (with 24x CD-ROM)
  • Jaz 50,000 Yen

DVD-RAM < 80,000 Yen (with 20x CD-ROM and PD)In regard to bang for the buck, I consider the Nomai drive an excellent buy when you want to run programs from the drive and when you want to transport data from one computer to another, as it has a parallel port adapter, and the media are cheaper than those for the Jaz. The drive also takes the older 270 MB SyQuest cartridges, but it has the disadvantage that cartridges are difficult to find.

For backup purposes, I think that the DVD-RAM drive offers most for the least money. While the drive itself is expensive, the media are cheap and reliable, you also can use it as a DVD-ROM reader, a CD-ROM drive, and a PD drive, and it offers direct access unlike a tape drive. A program coming with the drive offers automatic copying of specified files (or directories), another program offers automatic execution of programs when the cartridge with the respective program is inserted, and you also can copy music CD tracks to PD or DVD cartridges for playing through the computer.

For me, the Zip is too small and too slow, while the JAZ is too expensive. I use the Nomai drive to run games with which I don't want to clutter my hard disks, and I use the DVD drive for backup, storage, and for transport of data from one computer to another computer (using PD cartridges).

© Algorithmica Japonica Copyright Notice: Copyright of material rests with the individual author. Articles may be reprinted by other user groups if the author and original publication are credited. Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from TPC. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

Algorithmica Japonica

November, 1998

The Newsletter of the Tokyo PC Users Group

Submissions : Editor

Tokyo PC Users Group, Post Office Box 103, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo 150-8691, JAPAN