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October 1996 Reviews TOC

10/96 Reviews HW: Exabyte Eagle Nest TR-3 Tape Drive

Eagle's Nest Makes for Comfortable Backup

By James E. Powell

The Eagle has landed, bringing a unique design that makes it easy to share fast (but costly) tape backup drives between systems. Exabyte's Eagle Nest TR-3 Tape Drive comes in two parts: the nest and the drive. You install the nest into your PC, and insert and connect the tape backup unit, which you can then remove and insert into another system's nest.

The nest is a shell, a kind of docking bay device that installs into a full-height drive bay. It connects via cable to an accelerator card. This shell acts much like a removable car stereo deck, only what you slide into the nest is the tape backup unit itself, which hooks into power and data connections at the nest's back. You push in and turn the key on the nest itself to finish the connection. Unlike SCSI or parallel port units, this setup has no cords to worry about. A yellow power light indicates the drive is properly seated in the nest, and a green light signals it's ready for backup. You can remove the backup unit and slide it into another nest-equipped PC, then back up the data on that PC.

The drive uses Travan-3 tapes (or QIC 3010/3020) and TR-3 Extra tapes, which store up to 4.4 gigabytes of compressed data. It is read compatible with QIC-80 and TR-1 cartridges. I was particularly pleased with its whisper-quiet operation. I tested the backup and restore functions with 10,000 files consuming over 677MB on my hard drive. It finished the backup in just under 42 minutes (averaging 16.167MB per minute), and compared results in just two seconds less. The hard drive contained a mix of programs and data; Eagle Backup 1.1, which ships with the drive, achieved a compression ratio of 1.74 to 1.

Installation is tricky under Windows 95. The accelerator card shares the IRQ and DMA of your floppy disk controller (you can use your existing controller but performance is slower). After three reboots, Windows 95 finally accepted this configuration. Technical support told me that the device can't be used with some Pentiums with the Triton chipset, but Exabyte is working to correct this.

Exabyte has also promised to ship a full Plug-and-Play version, which should correct the TR-3's installation problems. It should be available by the time you read this.

The company plans other nesting products to work with the Eagle Nest, which may include a hard disk and other peripherals.

For "portable" tape backups, the Eagle Nest TR-3 will give you ease of use and great performance.

Info File
Exabyte Eagle Nest TR-3 Tape Drive
Drive and one nest, $249; each additional nest, $69
Pros: Performance
Cons: Installation
Exabyte Eagle Division
800-EXA-BYTE, 303-516-3000
WinMag Box Score: 3.5

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