Zip vs. EZ-135: A Comparison

The Iomega Zip drive and the SyQuest EZ-135 have both generated a lot of interest and excitement in the comoputer world. And that interest is just as intense in the Apple II neighborhood as it is in the Mac and PC camps. I managed to get one of the fi rst Zips that came out, back in March of 1995, and have been very happy with it. I use it on my PowerBook, my LC III and both my Apple IIGS computers. I also use it at work and to carry and archive client's files. I haven't seen one of the EZ-135 drives yet, but the new drive that is really got my fancy, and the fancy of publishing professionals everywhere, is the Iomega Jaz drive. Hopefully, I will be able to report on that drive in the future.

For now, the EZ and Zip provide lots of expansion room for Apple II users. As such, I thought that this comparison sheet, which I got from the InfoMac archives, might make a good article. I hope that you enjoy it. The following is the author's preface :

This is the second (and hopefully the last!) revision of my comparison of the Zip and EZ drives. I corrected a very confusing typo (thanks to Dan Hoefferth for pointing it out) and I removed the rumour about Zips causing problems with internal CD-ROM drives. (I've had many messages from people working with such configurations telling me they had encountered no problems whatsoever.)
version 1.1

This is a comparison of two low-capacity low-cost mass storage devices, Iomega's Zip drive and SyQuest's EZ-135 drive. The comparison is based on opionions of users of both drives sent to me by e-mail, and also on some information pulled from www pages. It was compiled by Florin Neumann


If ease of use, portability, cross-platform communication, and availability are important, then Zip would be the better choice.

If speed, cartridge capacity, and flexibility in integration with other SCSI devices are important, and if you're willing to put up with waiting for back-ordered cartridges, and if megabyte/$ is important to you, then the EZ would be the better choice .

Putting it in another way, if I had a PowerBook or a low-end system, and/or I wanted the user-friendliest drive, and/or I wanted to make sure that I could exchange data with more people, then I'd get a Zip. But if I had a higher-end system, with sever al devices on the SCSI bus and I wanted to keep all my options open as to how to id them, and if I really cared about speed and capacity, but I didn't mind having to go through a convoluted ritual each time I swapped a disk, then I'd get the EZ.

Personal Opinion

After reading all the opinions sent to me, and after trying out both drives at a local dealer, I decided on the Zip drive. The main reasons were:

As to the Zip's shortcomings, this is what I think:



EZ Hard disk technology. Re-engineered Winchester-type SyQuest mechanism.

ZIP Combination of flexible and hard disk technology. Does not use Iomega's proprietary Bernoulli technology.

Compatibility with Other Formats

Both the EZ and the Zip read/write only their own formats. They are not compatible with anything else. The EZ cartridge looks like a SyQuest 270 cartridge, but it can't be read in a SyQuest 270, and the EZ can't read SyQuest 270 cartridges.

One respondent mentioned that Compaq is poised to come out with a drive that will read 1.44M floppies, as well as a new 100M format, but he doubted that this new drive would become available for the Macintosh.


Both drives seem to be very reliable. I haven't had a single bad report on either of them; but it's early days yet...

EZ Based on the SyQuest technology, which has a known track-record; in general it is fairly reliable as a back-up and temporary storage device, but not as a primary storage device.

ZIP Based on new mechanism, without a known track-record. However, Iomega is known as a reputable company, and its Bernoulli drives are considered to be technically excellent (but use different technology).


EZ Drive available by mail order and from dealers. Cartridges more difficult to come by, only by mail order or from selected dealers. Back-ordered at every dealer I checked with.

ZIP Drive available by mail order, from dealers, and from computer superstores. Cartridges readily available from the same sources.

Comparative Cost

DRIVES EZ is $20-$50 more expensive than the Zip, depending on source.

CARTRIDGES EZ cartridges are $4-$8 more expensive than Zip cartridges, again depending on source. In megabyte/$, EZ cartridges are about 120% more cost-effective than the Zips.

Speed and Capacity

CARTRIDGES EZs format to 126M; Zips format to 96M.

DRIVE EZ avg. access time is 13ms; Zip avg. access time is 30ms; in practice the EZ is 50% to 80% faster.


DRIVE EZ is bulkier and heavier than the Zip, and can only be used in horizontal position. Both use external power sources, which are pretty heavy themselves.

CARTRIDGES Both are 3.5'' diameter cartridges. EZs are about 4 times thicker and somewhat heavier.

On/Off Switching

EZ Has on/off switch.

ZIP Doesn't have on/off switch; is on as soon as the power source is plugged in.

SCSI Cable

EZ Has standard 50-pin SCSI connector. Can be connected to the Mac with the usual 25-to-50-pin SCSI cable, or to other SCSI devices via 50-to-50-pin SCSI cable. ZIP Has non-standard 25-pin SCSI connector. Can be connected to the Mac with a 25-to-25-pin SCSI cable (supplied). Requires 25-to-50-pin SCSI cable (like the one used to connect the Mac to the SCSI chain) to connect to other SCSI devices.


EZ Can choose any legal SCSI ID number, but ID button is flimsy and hard to reach.

ZIP Can only choose between IDs 5 and 6, but ID button is easy to use.

Swapping Cartridges

EZ Inconvenient. Behaves like a standard SyQuest drive. Have to dismount, spin down, and manually eject the cartridge.

ZIP Convenient. Behaves like a floppy. Drag to trash and it ejects automatically; likewise upon shutting down the Mac.

Software Driver

EZ Rather poorly designed.

ZIP Well designed. "Guest" option allows installation of driver in RAM for temporary use on other Macs than the owner's. It also allows for the mounting of ther disk even if the Mac was booted with extensions off. (Something Apple should imita te for their CD-ROM drives, which can't be mounted whent the Mac is booted with extensions off.)

Bundled software

EZ Not good, except Silverlining Lite, included on EZs ordered from La Cie.

ZIP Mediocre

Use as a Boot Device

Both can be used as start-up disks.

Customer base

Zip has wider customer base than the EZ, but it has been out half a year earlier. It has caused more of an impact in the Mac market than the PC market, but I've seen some local PC dealers offering Zips; I have seen none offering EZs.

Also PowerComputing is offering as an option internal Zip drives with their PowerMac clones.

Cross-platform communication

EZ ?

ZIP Can read PC-formatted Zip cartridges with PC Exchange, although Access PC may be more reliable.


(I had no way to check these, so I put them in as I received them.)

EZ "EZ 135 platters are Syquest 270 platters that failed the quality checks on one side of the platter"

WWW Information Sources


The comparison is based on information received from the following Info-Mac subscribers (many thanks, folks!).
Florin Neumann, email

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