Disk Drive Review

This is an article I found that had some cool info. Text in Blue I have added and not part of the original file.

* DRIVE TESTS by Mark D. Elliott

Contrary to rumors I heard on CompuServe, about the XF551 (and XF35 Kit) as being only half as fast as the Happy or Doubler equipped 1050, I decided to do a little bench testing myself, just to get an idea of just
"how fast" these drives really are. Since I just "happened" to have all the drives below, just laying around, here's what I found:

Test#1 Test#2 Test#3
Disk Drive (Read) (Write) (Format)
----------------- ------ ------- --------
Atari 1050 (SD) 88 100 35
Atari 1050 (ED) 84 95 36

Doubler 1050 (SD) 50 64 22*
Doubler 1050 (ED) 47 58 22*
Doubler 1050 (DD) 37 44 22*

Happy 1050 (SD) 42(50) 83(63) 23(22*)
Happy 1050 (ED) 39(47) 73(58) 25(22*)
Happy 1050 (DD) 35(36) 54(43) 25(22*)

Atari XF551 (SD) 70 75 26
Atari XF551 (ED) 80 85 26
Atari XF551 (DD) 45 50 50*
Atari XF551 (DSDD) 45 50 50*

XF35-XF551 (SD) 85 90 67
XF35-XF551 (ED) 80 85 52
XF35-XF551 (DD) 45 50 67*
XF35-XF551 (DSDD) 45 50 130*
XF35-XF551 (DSQD) 45 50 130*

* = High Speed Skew was available and used for that set of tests.
Density: SD = 90K, ED = 127K, DD = 180K, DSDD = 360K, and DSQD = 720K.

Notes: All times above are given in seconds, and are accurate to within 1 second. All disks used were formatted in the SpartaDos mode. The Happy 1050 cannot format disks in the Ultra Speed Sector Skew (Standard format
time given). However, with the help of our Happy Doubler program, (The happy.com in RealDos can program a happy drive to function as a US Doubler) the Happy 1050 can be be programmed to fully emulate the U.S. Doubler, including formatting in the U.S. Skew. The times for the Happy Doubler programmed 1050, are shown in parenthesis. For the normal read/write tests on the Happy 1050, a disk formatted under the Happy Doubler program was used. Skewing was used (where applicable), to show the fastest times, under these test conditions.

Test Equipment Used: A 576K-130XE with SpartaDOS X (4.20), the Happy Doubler program, standard 1050, Doubler 1050, Happy 1050, XF551, and XF35-XF551 drives.

Test # 1: Read a file that is 85,750 bytes, copied from the specific drive to a SpartaDOS X RAMdisk.

Test # 2: Write a file that is 85,750 bytes, copied from the SpartaDOS X RAMdisk to the specified drive.

Test # 3: Format a disk, in the specified density.

Obviously, the read and write times, for the XF551 or XF35'ed drive is NOT half this speed of the Happy or Doubler! In fact, they are pretty darn close! (Don't want to mention any names, (like Bob Puff, or Tim Patrick! - <just kidding>). I would have tested the Super Archiver as well this time, but one was not handy at this time. However, tests I performed on it earlier this year, showed it being just a tad slower than the U.S. Doubler. The only "slow" time I see, is when formatting the 3.5" XF35 drive. But, there is soooo much storage there (720K),
that you will hardly be formatting disks that often, to begin with! Even when backing up hard drives, the amount of disks required would be a real time saver! And, those 3.5" disk are soooo neat! You Never have to worry about finding a disk sleeve.

So, what do all these tests mean? Obviously, this is by NO MEANS as complete as possible! Other factors, such as; DOS used and the size of it's copy buffer, sector copying, copying small files, and your other peripherals, will have an effect on the outcomes. However, these should at least give you an idea, of just how fast these drives are (especially when compared to a standard 1050, or even an old 810 drive, which is so sloooooow!)

Other things to consider - Up until this year, the price of the 5.25" blank disks were much cheaper to buy than the newer 3.5" disks. Until this year, the 3.5" disks cost about $1 each. Currently, you can usually find decent bulk 5.25" disks, for about 40 cents or less each. However, since more and more IBMs nowadays, are sold with the 3.5"
drives (in addition to the Atari ST, Amiga, and Macintosh), the price has come down to reasonable levels. Careful shopping can get you the 3.5" disks, for as little as 70 cents (or less) each. As far as using this guide to purchase a new drive or add-on for your system, these are my personal recommendations:

1) For a casual user, a U.S. Doubler 1050 is fine.

2) For routine disk maintenance and sector copying, 2 - U.S. Doubler 1050s should fill the bill.

3) For a person who wants to back-up their commercial software, a Happy 1050 will work. Our Happy Doubler is also highly recommended.

4) For a person that does a lot of disk copies, a Happy 1050 (as D1:), and a U.S. Doubler 1050 will work great.

5) For someone that wants the ULTIMATE in disk copying, then 3 or 4 Happy 1050s cannot be beat!

6) For someone that wants a low-cost add-on drive, that offers a lot of storage, the XF551 is a great buy!

7) For someone that wants the ULTIMATE in storage capability per drive, or for backing up a hard drive, then a XF35-XF551 will do well.

8) For someone that runs a BBS, a couple of XF35-XF551s should do just fine.

9) For a power-user that wants the most storage and the fastest read/write times, then you should consider a hard drive, as well.

Notes: The XF551 or XF35-XF551 is not recommended to be used as D1: with commercial software, especially protected ones. (because they spin at 300 RPM compared to 288 for most other drives, among other things)

Costs per Drive
Atari 1050 - $179.95 (hard to find these days!)
U.S. Doubler 1050 - $39.95 + $179.95 for the 1050 = $219.90
Happy 1050 - $149.95 + $179.95 = $329.90 (Happy board is no longer made!)
Atari XF551 - $199.95 (great buy!)
XF35-XF551 - $34.95 + $100 (3.5" w/cage) + $179.95 = $334.90

Note: The above are the suggested retail prices. Careful shopping can get you an even better deal! So, upon closer look, the XF35-XF551 is not really as expensive (compared to the others), as one might think! And, it offers the MOST storage per dollar!

Hmmmm, I started out just testing the speeds of the drives, and here I am, writing a review of them! It may seem I am a little biased towards our products, however, I am only human! <grin> Oh-well.....

Atari 1050 - Single or Enhanced Density. Maximum storage = 127K. Well-built and very dependable. Uses industry standard ICs on it's circuit board (except for ROM), meaning replacement parts are easy to find. However, the drive mechanism is NOT a typical IBM type part, and can only be found at Atari-type stores. The 1050 is getting harder and harder to find these days!

Atari 1050 w/U.S. Doubler - Single, Enhanced, or Double Density. Capable of formatting disks in U.S. Sector Skew, for added speed. Maximum storage = 180K. Easy to install. Excellent capabilities, at a low price.

Atari 1050 w/Happy - Single, Enhanced, or Double Density. Capable of backing up commercially protected disks. Maximum storage = 180K. Easy to install. Getting harder and harder to find! Happy Computers stopped making them awhile back, and the ones they do have, were raised in price, back to $149.95!

Atari XF551 - Single, Enhanced, Double Density, or Double Sided Double Density. Capable of formatting disks in a special skew (similar to the U.S. Doubler). Maximum storage = 360K. Very easy to service (if required), since it's circuit board is small an easy to follow. Uses industry standard ICs (except ROM). Also uses an industry standard
drive mechanism (finally!).

Atari XF551 w/XF35 Kit - Single, Enhanced, Double, Double Sided Double Density, or Double Sided Quad Density. Capable of formatting disks in the skew also. Maximum storage = 720K. Uses a industry standard 3.5"
drive mechanism.

Copyrights: Atari, 410, XM301, 130XE, 1050, and XF551 are trademarks of Atari Corp. ICD, P:R Connection, U.S. Doubler, and the U.S. Sector Skew are trademarks of ICD Inc. Happy is a trademark of Happy Computers.
Super Archiver, and Bob Puff <grin>, are trademarks of Computer Software Services (C.S.S.). I.C., Happy Doubler, Immitator Controller, IC1050 Controller, SIO Port Box, SIO Switch Box, and XF35 Kit are trademarks of Innovative Concepts.

While I got your attention, I might as well plug some of products that are related to this article:

XF35 Kit - Contains Upgrade ROM and adapting cables, for converting the Atari XF551 to the newer 3.5" - 720K format. (3.5" drive and mounting cage optional). Supports high speed skew, and works in 720K format with; MYDOS, SpartaDos, and the SpartaDos X cartridge. Also works with all other DOSes in lesser formats. Some soldering and desoldering required. Sale Price (until 8/31/89): $29.95 (+ S&H).

Happy Doubler - Allows you to program your Happy 1050 drives to fully emulate ICD's U.S. Doubler, including formatting disks in the U.S. sector skew (which is not normally possible!). Also allows you to reprogram your drive numbers up to D8:, without touching the switches in back! This way, up to 8 - Happy 1050s can be used at once! (4 - programmed as Doublers 5-8 and another 4 - as normal). Completely software based, no installation required! Price: $19.95 (+ S&H).

IC1050 Controller - Write protect module for the Atari 1050 drive (including those equipped with the U.S. Doubler, Happy clone, or Super Archiver). No more notching disks! Has a 3 - position switch for write protect mode; 1) As normal, 2) Do not write, and 3) Will write to any disk. Also has a two color LED, for monitoring the write protect
status. Easy to install, no soldering required. Price: $29.95 (+ S&H).

Immitator Controller - For Genuine Happy 1050 drives; All the features of our IC1050 Controller, plus; An extra 2 position switch, for fast/slow modes. Price: $39.95 (+ S&H).

SIO Port Box - Solves the problem of "dead end" peripherals, like the; 410 Recorder, XM301, and most printer interfaces. Also solves weak signal problems, by allowing you to distribute your system better. Easy to use, just plug-in! No power required. Price: $34.95

SIO Switch Box - Allows you to switch between either; two computers and one peripheral set-up, OR one computer between two peripheral setups (example: two drives set to D1:). Also solves the problem of using two
devices that draw their power from the computer, like the; XM301, P:R Connection, and most printer interfaces. Easy to use, just plug-in! No power required. price: $49.95 (+ S&H).

For more information on the XF35 Kit, please see the article by Matthew Ratcliff, in the September 1989 issue of Antic. Or, you can call or write (we have many other products):

Innovative Concepts (I.C.)
31172 Shawn Drive
Warren, MI 48093 USA
Phone: (313) 293-0730
CompuServe: 76004,1764


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