Power Tools for Technical Communication:
Summary Tables for Recommendation Reports

In this lab, you develop a summary table from the information in the comparison and recommendation sections of a recommendation report. You need to have studied Chapter 4 and 10 of Power Tools for Technical Communication to do this lab:
  1. Copy the text below this box, and paste it into your preferred word-processing software.
  2. Create a table with points of comparison as the column headings and the products as the rows.
  3. Study the paragraphs to determine the contents of the cells for this table.
  4. Put your name, Summary table, and the date on this document, and print it out for your instructor.


Today's PCs commonly have disk drives of 20GB or larger. PC disk storage capacity has increased rapidly in the last five years, but backup media has lagged in development [1]. Many tape drives and media designed for small business servers are capable of storing gigabytes of data, but they cost $1500 or more. The three tape drives compared in this report offer backup solutions for large capacity disk drives, and they are designed with a home PC user in mind. A maximum price is not defined as a requirement because drives supporting 20GB or more are limited.

Speed. Speed is important since it is recommended that a full data backup be completed at least once a week, and an incremental backup be completed daily. Productivity is impacted if a full backup requires more than 36 hours to complete. The backup speed for the Hewlett Packard (HP) Colorado 20GB drive is 1.83MB/sec. The OnStream DI30 30GB drive has a speed rating of 1MB/sec. The Tecmar 20GB NS20 tape drive is rated at 2MB/sec. The Tecmar has the fastest backup speed.

Price. The suggested retail price is used for the comparisons, but mail order and on-line prices can be as much as 50% less. It pays to shop around when purchasing computer hardware. The HP Colorado 20GB drive is listed for $259. The OnStream 30GB drive sells for $299. The price listed for the Tecmar 20GB drive is $695, which is more than twice the cost of the other drives. The HP Colorado 20GB drive has the lowest price of the tape drives reviewed.

Ease of Use. A requirement, especially for a home PC user, is a tape backup system (tape drive and backup software) that is easy to use. All three of the tape drives reviewed include easy to use software that allows automated backups. All the tape drives are essentially equal in this category. Ease of use will not impact the final recommendation.

Warranty. Tape drives are a hardware component that can have a high failure rate; therefore, a good warranty is important for this reason. The OnStream carries a one-year hardware warranty. The warranty for both the HP Colorado and the Tecmar NS20 is 2 years. The HP Colorado and the Tecmar provide the same 2-year warranty.


Table 1 summarizes the comparison points for each of the reviewed tape drives.

Place table here.

The data listed in Table 1 is used to arrive at the following conclusions:

  1. All three drives are comparable in the ease of use category.
  2. The Tecmar NS20 tape drive has the fastest speed with the HP Colorado a close second.
  3. The OnStream DI30 has the slowest speed and the shortest hardware warranty.
  4. The HP Colorado and the Tecmar NS20 both have a two-year warranty.
  5. The HP Colorado and the OnStream DI30 are comparable in price.
  6. The Tecmar NS20 is the most expensive drive.
  7. The HP Colorado 20GB tape drive is the best choice because the warranty is the same as the Tecmar, the speed is almost equal to the speed of the Tecmar, and the cost is $436 less than the Tecmar. The significantly higher price of the Tecmar is the deciding factor.

References Cited

  1. Galletta, David M. "OnStream DI30." Issue 817. http://www.crn.com/testcenter/reviews/817/817onstream.asp (22 Nov. 1998).
  2. "IDE interface." http://www.webopedia.com (1999-2000).
  3. Downing, Douglas, Ph.D., Michael Covington, Ph.D., and Melody Mauldin Covington. Dictionary of Computer and Internet Terms. 6th ed. NY: Barron's Educational Services, 1998.

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