From the point of view of the form and technology of recording we have disk, semiconductor and tape media. Nowadays the one that is used most is probably the CD-ROM, which can be found almost everywhere. You see it supplementing printed periodicals, used as a standard software distribution medium, advertising tool, etc. It is also the most widely used medium for audio recordings.
Fortunately there are alternatives to the CD-ROM in spite of its ostensible universality. New ways of saving information had to be found especially in connection with digitalisation of certain traditional media. Classical photography, filmmaking and audio recording were areas which "suffered most" from digitalisation. You will probably know the alternative standards' names: ZIP, JAZZ, MO, MD, DVD, Flash-ROM, DV, Mini-DV, Digital-8, and others.
But we should not forget tape media - there are several types. At the moment the most widely used technologies are Travan, DDS-DAT and DLT. Travan's capacity is 20 MB, DDS4-DAT's 40 MB and DLT's 80 MB. Travan technology is aimed at home use, while DDS4 and DLT are suitable even for the biggest and most demanding professional applications.
ZIP and JAZZ media are usually used as interchangeable media in computers. A ZIP's capacity used to be 100 MB, bit the new generation is capable of storing 200 MB. It is intended to act as an alternative to the traditional 1.44 MB floppy drives. The rival technologies are represented by A:Drive and LS-Drive with capacities of 120 MB. The capacity of JAZZ media is up to 2 GB, but even this value is not unsurpassed - the magneto-optical disk has a capacity of 5.2 GB.
MD is the acronym for Mini-Disk, used as a pleasant alternative to CD and professional reporter tape recorders. Technologically it stands closest to the MO disk. The MD's "computer" capacity is 270 MB, and the latest MD recorders can be placed in your jacket or shirt pocket without any problems. One MD can hold up to 80 minutes of CD-quality recordings, or twice as much in mono recording.
DVD found its use especially for films. Its main advantage is its reproduction quality and capability of carrying several dubbing versions for the movie as well as providing the option of choosing from different camera angles. DVDs with four-layer recording can hold as much as 17 GB of data.
Digital cameras prefer compact flash-cards of various capacities, usually ranging from 4 to 32 MB. Their advantage is a fast transfer of pictures to printers with compact flash-card connectors such as Hewlett-Packard PhotoSmart P1100.
The Slovak market offers all the above-mentioned technologies. The cheapest one is the CD-ROM, which can be obtained for a few Slovak crowns. The other extreme is represented by MO disks and DLT tapes which cost a few thousand.
Peter Krošlák is responsible for Hardware Solutions at PosAm Bratislava. His column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.