Just a quickie….if you liked the sound of the Freecom Mobile Drive Mg that I reviewed recently and you need a further incentive to buy one, from 1 August to 31 October 2011, every 100th customer to buy and register a Mobile Drive Mg from either an Apple Store, an Apple Premium Reseller, the Apple Online Store or from the Freecom webshop will win an iPad 2. Freecom has created a registration page with details of how to get involved and the terms and conditions of the promotion.
Congratulations to Rich Costin for winning last week’s competition for G Data AntiVirus 2012 – his prize will be on its way to him shortly.
Disappointingly, the number of responses to the competition was a bit low, though the quality of the response was high, so we’re going to try to attract a few more UK GNC readers and listeners to respond. This week the competition is to win the Freecom Mobile Drive CLS and Dock that I originally reviewed back in December. It’s an interesting take on removable storage for multiple 2.5″ drives.
Again, simply leave a comment below saying how you think GNC could be more relevant to a British audience, and I’ll draw at random from the responses in a week.
Thanks to Freecom for the prize and remember, postage to UK addresses only. Good luck.
The Freecom Mobile Drive Mg is no ordinary 2.5″ external drive. It’s a thing of beauty. Intended to complement Apple’s MacBooks, the slimline Mobile Drive has a magnesium body that looks and feels great. The icing on the cake is that it’s USB 3. I’ve seen lots of external drives but this is the one you want.
Even the packaging reflects the target market. Instead of a relatively dull cardboard box, this comes in an acrylic box so that you can see drive before you’ve even purchased it. The model shown here is the slimline 320 GB USB 3 version which is just 1 cm thick. Freecom have used the bevelled-edge trick to make it seem even thinner than it is but it doesn’t detract from the fact that it is thin and Freecom claim that it is the world’s thinnest external drive. In addition to the 320 GB capacity, there are two 720 GB units which are a bit thicker at 1.5 cm – one is USB 3 only, the other is USB 3 and Firewire 800.
Apart from the USB 3 connector and the Freecom logo, the only other external feature is a white LED which indicates power and disk activity. It’s difficult to make out in the picture below as it’s not lit, but it’s pretty much right in the middle. The drive is bus powered so there’s no power supply needed.
The Mobile Drive Mg comes pre-formatted with HFS+, so if you have a Mac, you’re good to go out of the box. If you’re a Windows or Linux user, it can easily be reformatted to another format.
I think we’ve established that it looks good, but does it perform? Connected up to USB 3, the Mobile Drive recorded the following data rates:
Under USB 2, the figures were obviously slower but still healthy for a USB 2 device.
- hdparm gave 30 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
- dd gave write speeds around 37 MB/s.
- bonnie++ gave 35 MB/s for writes and 40 MB/s for reads.
Looking at the data, using USB 3 roughly doubles the performance when compared to USB 2, which is not unexpected. If you are interested in the specs, there’s a datasheet .pdf.
Price-wise, the model here costs 79 euros, with the 750 GB model bumping the price to 119 euros. Adding the Firewire port will cost 10 euros extra.
You know you want one.
Thanks to Freecom for the loan of the Mobile Drive Mg.
If you are looking for a Father’s Day gift, then you might want to take a look at the Freecom Data Bar XXS. As you might guess from the XXS, it’s a tiny little USB memory stick. My measuring says that it’s just 2.5 mm deep, 12 mm wide and 31 mm long – it’s basically the same size as the USB socket, only longer.
Because it’s so small and easily misplaced, the Data Bar comes with a keyring lanyard and the little silver barrel (see picture) unscrews to easily detach the memory stick when you need to use it. The Data Bar is also waterproof and dustproof, which is handy because anything this small is bound to go through the wash at some point.
Performance-wise, bonnie++ reported write rates at around 13 MB/s and using dd, it came in around the 15 MB/s. Remember these figures will be specific to the particular setup used but should be indicative of the Data Bar’s speed. The Data Bar XXS tested was the 2 GB version.
Available in fashionable white and in 2 GB, 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB sizes, prices start at 9.95 euros going up to 79.95 euros. If you want small, they don’t come much smaller than this.
Thanks to Freecom for the review unit.
Freecom announced the Mobile Drive CLS concept back in July as a new way of storing and organising the vast amounts of data that all of us now seem to collect through our daily digital lives. The CLS stands for Collect, Label and Store and fundamentally it’s about using 2.5″ portable drives to store data according to type or use. One Mobile Drive could have photos, another video. Or they could be arranged by topic with one Mobile Drive storing all the photos and videos from a trip to Europe and another holding the material from a new house you built last year. I’m sure you can grasp the possibilities.
It all reminds me a little bit of the SyQuest EZDrive and the Iomega Zip drive, and the drive even comes with a translucent plastic case with a paper insert where you can write the contents of the hard drive for future reference. It’s so old skool….
But enough reminiscing. If you buy into the concept, what do you actually get? There’s two parts, the first being the Mobile Drive CLS, a 2.5″ hard drive enclosed in a black soft-touch rubberised case and with a label strip down the side. The second is the CLS Dock, a docking station that takes three of the Mobile Drives.
As the Mobile Drives come with standard mini-SD connectors, you can just use the drives with a cable if you want. Power is supplied via the USB cable.
Alternatively, the Dock makes using them much more convenient. You simply slot the Drive onto the Dock, which can take up to three of the CLS Mobile Drives. Cleverly, the mini-SD connector is slightly offset from the centre so it’s obvious which way round the drive has to go. There’s also an additional standard USB port on the Dock for a memory stick.
The Mobile Drive seemed to fit snugly into the Dock and obviously the review unit was new but I’d be fairly confident you wouldn’t need to worry about wear on the connectors anymore than you’d worry about any external unit.
There’s been a bit of care here too with the USB leads. The supplied leads are a cut above the average USB cable and there’s a short one supplied in the storage case, keeping drive and lead together.
Performance-wise, the disks were pretty much as you’d expect from an external USB2 drive. Using hdparm -Tt, I got around 1640 MB/s for cached reads and 30 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
Cost-wise, the Mobile Drives come in four sizes from 250 GB (£60) up to 640 GB (£85). The CLS Dock costs £16. Comparing the price for the Mobile Drives against similar units, there’s a price premium of £10 at the smallest capacity which gradually reduces as the capacities increase.
I liked this product as it’s well designed and convenient. I think this product will appeal to the “laptop generation” – those people who live in lofts and apartments and use technology primarily for their own entertainment. Eventually the laptop hard drive fills up with photos, music or films and this is a clever and attractive way to keep files without cluttering up the internal disk.
It might also appeal to people who just want a convenient way to transfer data between home, work and school. Use the dock at home and the cable while on the road. And the label strip on the side of the Mobile Drive can easily take a name and mobile phone number in case of loss.
Frankly, I’m surprised it doesn’t come in white…
Thanks to Freecom for the review unit.