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SuperDisk 240, a Sequel that Surpasses the Original

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SuperDisk 240, a Sequel that Surpasses the Original

As you probably know, when it comes to removable floppy-drive replacements, I've preferred the LS-120 SuperDisk for several years now as they are much more reliable, supported by the BIOS for booting, plus generally faster and use less expensive media than proprietary alternatives like ZIP. The original ZIP format was only 100MB while SuperDisk stored 120MB, giving SuperDisk a slight capacity advantage. ZIP then came out with a newer design called the ZIP-250 which stores 250MB per disk, giving ZIP a much larger capacity advantage; that is until recently.

A new SuperDisk format officially called the SuperDisk 240 or LS-240 (LS for Laser Servo) has been recently released that just about matches the newer ZIP capacity, and yet still retains the reliability and media cost advantages. Additionally, the new SuperDisk also provides you with the ability to use virtually free 1.44MB floppy disk media at much higher storage capacities than normal. . Although the new drive's official name is the SuperDisk 240 (after its 240MB media capacity), as a Star Trek fan I prefer to call it "SuperDisk, The Next Generation".

What's New About the SuperDisk 240?

The LS-240 drives are still read/write compatible with the original LS-120 media, and also still read and write standard 1.44MB and 720KB floppy media at their normal capacities. The LS-240 drives, however, have two big differences over their predecessors:

  • Support for 240MB LS-240 media.
  • FD32MB technology, which allows you to reformat standard 1.44MB floppy disks and store 32MB of data per disk.

If you thought that CD-R media was cheap enough to give away when you transfer data, how about floppy media? If you're like me, you probably have a lot of new or used-once floppy media that is hard to use at its normal capacity (it's just not big enough), but will work very nicely for larger data files and project files if you use the LS-240 drive's FD32 technology to reformat the media to 32MB.

Who Sells the LS-240 Drives?

Panasonic (Matsushita Kotobuki Electronics Industries Ltd.), a major OEM supplier of the original LS-120 SuperDisk, developed the LS-240 format along with the FD32MB technology found in the new SuperDisk 240 drive. They released the USB-based Panasonic SuperWriter 32 for the Japanese market early in 2001, however, LS-240 drives are now being sold by other vendors in the US, including:

  • Que, Inc.(www.que-inc.com) (not related to Que Publishing): The SuperDisk 240 FD32 connects via the USB port, is bus powered, and comes with a software bundle which includes Que! D2D (for recording DVD to floppy media) and Restrospect Backup. Retail price is about $180, but some vendors are offering a $30 rebate through September 2001. Que also offers the D2 Dual Drive, which combines an 6GB hard drive and LS-240 SuperDisk drive in a single unit which connects to an IEEE-1394 (Firewire) port. Check Que's web site for pricing.
  • Addonics (www.addonics.com) The Pocket SuperDisk 240 is also USB-based and bus powered, and retails for about $190. Addonics also offers 3-packs of the LS-240 media for about $50.
  • IBM (www.ibm.com) The IBM SuperDisk (LS-240) Ultrabay 2000 drive fits into the Ultrabay 2000, ThinkPad Dock, UltraBase X2 media slice, and the IBM Portable Drive Bay 2000 used by the IBM series A, series T, and series X notebook computers. Check IBM's web site for pricing.
  • If you're hoping for a bootable replacement for your 1.44MB floppy drive, check your BIOS before you decide whether the LS-240 is for you. Some of the latest system BIOSes can use USB drives like the Que or Addonics versions of the LS-240 as bootable devices.

Conclusion

While the new LS-240 SuperDisk has only been on the market a short time, it promises to breath new life into SuperDisk technology. If you're already a SuperDisk user, or have been wondering which way to go on a floppy replacement, the LS-240 "SuperDisk, The Next Generation" deserves a careful look. Even though it is superior to all other current types of floppy drives, I feel that the SuperDisk 240 merely delays rather than prevents the demise of the floppy drive in PCs. The real floppy replacement we've all been waiting for is the new Mt. Rainier CD-RW standard coming sometime next year which will truly render the floppy drive (in most all configurations) obsolete.

© Copyright 2002 Pearson Technology Group. All rights reserved.

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