Imation Odyssey review

Price when reviewed

Despite hard disks being promoted as a better bet than tape for backup, there’s still little choice for the small business. Disks may cost less and perform better than entry-level tape drives, but media needs to be removable if it’s to fulfill the role of off-site storage – something tape was always designed for. Tandberg Data made a stab at resolving this conundrum with its RDX QuickStor (web ID: 100212) and now Imation makes a play with its Odyssey removable hard disk storage system.

Imation Odyssey review

Essentially, there isn’t a lot between the QuickStor and Odyssey; they both use solid cartridges with compact 2.5in SATA hard disks mounted inside. Imation wins out marginally on price, as after some research we found the kit with the 40GB cartridge on review here costs less than the equivalent QuickStor package, and general costs for Imation’s cartridges are slightly lower as well. However, you’re limited to a USB interface for the Odyssey, whereas the QuickStor is also offered as an internal SATA model.

The Odyssey docking station is nicely designed and looks good on the desktop. Installation is a simple affair, too. You simply load the bundled Media Manager software and then plug in the station, where it’s identified under Windows as a removable drive. The software is designed to overcome the problems of hot-swapping hard disks, as it enables the eject button on the drive and also allows cartridges to be ejected from Windows Explorer. The eject button serves a number of roles, glowing red or green depending on whether the station is connected to the host. The cartridges have a recessed button at the back, allowing them to be set to read-only, and the eject button turns blue if it spots one of these being loaded.

For testing, we connected the Odyssey to a Supermicro 3.2GHz Pentium D workstation loaded with Windows XP SP2. We had no problems using the drive, with cartridges identified as soon as they were loaded, and we could run simple drag-and-drop copy operations. A small irritation is that by default you can’t format the cartridges, and to overcome this you need to access the drive’s properties and change its policy to optimise for performance. The eject button worked fine, with no complaints from Windows when a drive was removed.

Real-world performance is reasonable for a USB device, with a 690MB video clip copied to and from the cartridge in 42 seconds and 27 seconds, giving write and read rates of 16.5MB/sec and 25.5MB/sec respectively. We also copied a larger 2.52GB video clip, which returned similar results. Backup performance using the bundled Retrospect software was in the same ball park. Securing 12.2GB of test data from the PC delivered 15.5MB/sec, while restoring the same data returned an average of 21MB/sec. Usefully, the Media Manager software protects against accidental ejection when a cartridge is in use.

As we observed with the RDX QuickStor, there are few choices for low-cost removable hard disk solutions, with Iomega’s REV being the only other established product on the market. Imation increases your options with a compact desktop solution that delivers decent performance and is good value as well.

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