Tag Archives: external hard drive

Freecom Mobile Drive Mg Review

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:

hdparm gave 75 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
dd gave write speeds around 82 MB/s.
bonnie++ gave 74 MB/s for writes and 85 MB/s for reads.

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.

LaCie External Hard Disk Review

LaCie’s Hard Disk is a USB2 3.5″ external hard drive unit. Designed by Neil Poulton, it definitely comes from the minimalist school of design as it’s a shiny black box with a blue LED. The exterior is marred only by a discrete LaCie logo on one side; USB connector, power socket and on/off switch at the back. You don’t even see the LED itself, only the blue light reflecting off the desk.

And sometimes a box is just what’s needed, if you want stack or store the drives. All too often stylish designs prevent two units from being placed on top of each, taking up more space. This LaCie unit manages to be stylish and functional at the same time, though it’s a bit of a dust magnet at times.

I have two of the 1 TB drives and they form the heart of my backup strategy. Once a month, they get retrieved from storage, plugged in and the files synced with my NAS. Touch wood, I’ve not had any drive failures.

Performance-wise, it’s always hard to test reliably and consistently.  I’m on Linux, so I’ve a range of tools including dd, hdparm and bonnie++.

– hdparm gave 32 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
– dd gave write speeds around 43 MB/s, with reading closer to 50 MB/s.
– bonnie++ gave 34 MB/s for writes and 36 MB/s for reads.

Given that the maximum theoretical speed for USB 2 is 60 MB/s, these figures are pretty good. For comparison, bonnie++ gives figures around 100 MB/s for my main SATA drive.

Currently, the LaCie Hard Disk comes in 1 TB, 1.5 TB and 2 TB versions and if you look hard, the 1 TB unit can be picked up for around £50. Recommended.

Buffalo MiniStation Portable USB 3.0 Hard Drive Review

Buffalo’s MiniStation portable USB 3.0 hard drive is a 500 GB SATA 2.5″ HDD in a small and not unattractive package. Coming in crystal white (and piano black), it will certainly appeal to those who want to match their white Apple products without wanting to pay for the Apple logo.

Size-wise, it’s very pocketable, measuring just 114 x 77 x 13 mm. The photograph below shows the MiniStation next to a British pound coin (Welsh version) to give an idea of scale. Easily popped into a bag or jacket and the smooth corners should avoid tears or pokes in the ribs.

There’s a single connector on one of the short sides – it’s a micro-B USB 3 socket which can be seen in the photos below along with the necessary cable. This was the first time that I’d seen a micro-B USB 3 connector and there’s detail on the pins at Wikipedia. As is expected on a portable external drive, the MiniStation is bus powered so there’s no additional power supply.

Looking at the photos, the dark line on the side is actually an LED light. In use, when connected to a USB 3 port, the dark strip on the side is bright blue. When connected to just USB 2, the light is green. The light is steady when the MiniStation is simply connected and it flashes during read and write.

Performance-wise, the MiniStation was tested using an HP dv9000-series laptop, with the USB 3 being provided by a Buffalo Interface ExpressCard, which was reviewed earlier in the week.

On a standard USB 2 port, I got about 180 Mb/s write and 225 Mb/s read. With the MiniStation on USB 3, I was able to get write speeds of about 285 Mb/s and 420 Mb/s on read.  For comparison, a generic external 2.5″ IDE drive was just able to hit 100 Mb/s. Please remember that these figures relate to my particular combination of laptop configuration and testing software. Your mileage may vary.

There’s no installation CD as the additional software is included on the MiniStation itself. Running the main installer gives the option to install a couple of “turbo” tools to increase performance, an EcoManager, some RAM disk software and a backup utility. There’s also a copy of Picasa.

The MiniStation USB 3.0 comes in 500 GB and 1 TB versions. RRPs are £69.99 and £109.99 respectively, but prices will generally be a bit less. As a side note, the MiniStation USB 3.0 doesn’t seem to be widely available yet, so it’s difficult to check on real-world prices. Competitor products seem to be around the £60 mark.

Clickfree Automatic Backup

Andy McCaskey invites Ian Collins of Clickfree into the booth to talk about ClickFree’s automatic backup solution. I think all of us know that we’re supposed to backup our hard drives and memory cards, but how many of us actually do it? Not many going by the number of times friends have phoned me up to see if I can undelete files or recover hard drives that have gone south.

Clickfree provide “the ultimate backup experience”, a combination of idiot-proof software and external USB harddrives which makes backing up and restoring files absolutely painless. No software is installed, it’s that easy.

And if you couldn’t even be bothered to plug in a USB drive, Clickfree have released a wireless version of their backup solution, the C3 Wireless Automatic Backup. Connect the unit to each PC, laptop (or Mac) in turn to initialise the software and settings, then simply leave it connected up to the power on a shelf and it does it’s business. 500 GB costs $179, 1 TB is $249. What price peace of mind?

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News.

Please Support our CES 2011 Sponsors.

Save 25% on 4GH Hosting 1yr Subscriptions Save 25% Promo Code CES2.

LaCie USB3 Memory Sticks and Hard Drives

Andy speaks to Philip of LaCie on the latest USB 3.0 devices from LaCie, including the new highspeed FastKey USB3 SSD memory stick which comes in 30GB, 60GB and 120GB sizes – yes, that’s 120GB in a memory stick, so don’t lose it! Also on show were USB3 upgrades across the range, including ruggedised external drives and designer models.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News.

Please Support our CES 2011 Sponsors

Get your 14 day Free Trial of Audible Gold to start Listening to great Books!
Save 25% on 4GH Hosting 1yr Subscriptions Save 25% Promo Code CES2.