EZQuest makes the
Cobra+ firewire drives in the following configurations: 40 GB (37GB formatted), 60
GB (57GB formatted), 80 GB (75GB formatted), 100 GB (93GB formatted), and 120 GB
(113GB formatted). This review is for the EZQuest Cobra+ 120 GB firewire drive.
The firewire drive was tested on a G3/333 with a firewire add-on card, on a G4/800
and a G4/867, both with built-in firewire support.
The Cobra+ firewire drive features 2 standard 6 pin FireWire ports, a universal power
supply, transfer rates up to 36 MB/sec (31 MB/sec write), 2MB buffer , 7200 RPM internal
ATA drive interface, Space Age Promar series case, and Intech Hard Disk Speedtools
software. The unit measures 8.875" x 7" x 2.25", is fully shielded,
and comes with a 2 year warranty.
Look and Feel
The Cobra+ comes in the Promar series case, which has a stylish iMac-like design.
All of the edges and corners are smooth and rounded, with the outer layer of the
case is a smooth translucent hard plastic. Beneath the translucent layer is a solid
silver case with the EZQuest design and logo on the front and top. In the back are
two firewire ports, power supply plug, fan, and on/off switch. On the bottom or
4 rubber boot legs in a real cool space age design. Overall, I really like the appearance
of this unit.
The unit weighs a little over 4 pounds, which is a bit on the heavy side. For a
stationary drive, that isn't a problem; in fact, the extra weight makes it a little
more stable. I like to switch my firewire drives between computers, though, and
lifting this drive frequently takes a small toll on the wrist. On the other hand,
it uses a universal power cord instead of a special power cord with a power adapter
(which most other devices use). Not having to lug a power adapter with the unit
is a plus; in fact, because it takes a universal cord, you don't even have to port
the cord with the unit. I typically have an abundant supply of power cords in all
locations, so I could just use any power cord that is handy.
No software is necessary to use the drive, although two CDs come with the drive:
EZ-Startup Kit CD and Speed Tools CD. The startup kit includes PDF manuals, warranty
card, registration info, and a multimedia manual. The Speed Tools CD provides disk
utilities for formatting and setting up the firewire drive. Although not necessary,
the tool does provide more options than Apple's disk tools, so if you want to have
more control over the drive, it's better to use the Speed Tools.
With 120 GB of disk space, this drive is awesome. I am a big multimedia user, and
like to convert analog video, as well as digital video from external devices, into
Quicktime movies and Quicktime DV streams (for use with iMovie). Digital video takes
up a lot of disk space, especially uncompressed, so having a 120 GB drives really
frees you up to work with all the video you want, without always worrying about skimping
on quality or ignoring certain video clips because you don't have the space for it.
The throughput on the device is fantastic. In full use, I also found that the casing
really does a good job of keeping the heat down. In comparison, my Western Digital
firewire drive gets very hot to touch when it is in full use, whereas the Cobra drive
was still cool when touching the top of the casing (the bottom was warm, but nothing
like the Western Digital).
Throughput on the unit is excellent as well. In one test, I copied 125 files totaling
575 MB of data from the Cobra to my internal hard drive in about 60 seconds. On
the G4's with built-in firewire, Most of my tests yielded the same results. On the
G3/333 with the add-on firewire card, however, my experience with the drive was a
lot less favorable.
Before discussing the problems I had, it's important to note that these problems
exists for most firewire drives working with Macintosh computers that have an add-on
firewire card. Not all add-on cards may have the problem, but from reading the discussions
on Apple's discussion boards, it would appear that most of them do. There are known
issues of using firewire drives with add-on firewire cards where the data transfer
gets out of sync. Depending on the card and the drive, the results of going out
of sync range from a stalled transfer to a hard crash and corrupted volume header
on the firewire drive. Using the Western Digital drive, I have always experienced
interrupted transfers with the G3 firewire add-on card, but I could usually recover
by copying less data at a time. When I began my tests with the Cobra drive, the
experience became a lot worse. My system would freeze, requiring a hard reboot,
and when the system came back up, it asked me if I wanted to initialize the firewire
drive. Initializing it, of course, would wipe out everything on the drive, and not
initializing it means that I no longer have access to it.
Working with EZQuest tech support, it was suggested that I lower the transfer rate
on the drive using Speed Tools. In general, transfer problems may occur when exporting
large amounts of digital video. To avoid the problem you can adjust the driver options
using the hard disk Speed Tools and clicking on the tune option. By lowering the
packet and load sizes, you slow down the performance but decrease the change of transfer
problems. Unfortunately, this did not help my situation at all. The other suggestion
received from tech support was to do a low-level format of the firewire drive. That
is not recommend for the faint of heart! Besides wiping the drive, on a 120GB drive,
this process took over two hours. The worst part is that, after all that, the problem
It was not until I read the Apple boards that I discovered that the issue is really
with the add-on firewire cards, and the problem is widespread. The Cobra drive performed
perfectly on both of the G4 Mac with the built-in firewire. What's missing from the
Cobra's documentation and from EZQuest's support web site is the caveat that there
are known problems using the drive with certain add-on firewire cards, and that these
problems are non-trivial (i.e., can crash your system, corrupt your drive's volume
header, and cause you to lose everything on the drive).
the dramatic saga of using the Cobra firewire drive on a G3 with an add-on firewire
card, this drive is a great piece of work. It's designed with a stylish look and
feel, provides impressive firewire throughput speed, takes power from any universal
power cord, and stays cool even under intensive use. While the Cobra+ drives come
in varying sizes, after using the 120 GB drive, it's hard to go back to anything
smaller. Some might consider that they would never need that kind of space, a thinking
pattern resulting from never having that kind of space. Once you have it, believe
me, you'll find ample ways to use it! In terms of price, I found the unit selling
for $370 at MacMall. That's about $3 a GB, which is not bad. If you have a Macintosh
with build-in firewire support, I recommend this unit.
- 120 Giga-bytes of
- Firewire speed
- Sleek design and
low heat output
- Uses universal power
- A bit on the heavy
side for portability
- Serious problems
on Mac systems with add-on firewire cards
4 out of 5 Mice