Making an external hard drive stand out when there are so many to choose from can be quite a challenge, but Western Digital (http://www.westerndigital.com) has always been an innovator in this realm. In addition, they have the experience given that they are a leading provider of OEM (original equipment manufacturer) drives as well as with their own products that bring a little more to the table than just plain old storage.
Case in point, their WD home entertainment solutions that work with all brands of external storage, not just their own. In this case, so-to-speak, the new My Passport - Studio models really go that extra mile beyond the storage and with all the speed you need. All that and it slips into your pocket at a size that's just slightly larger than an iPhone. Very nice.
One thing that "MacNews" readers may like is that this drive is for the Mac-at-heart. Even as most drives are now plug-n-play for Macs, WD has Mac formatted these drives and they report immediate compatibility with Apple's Time Capsule backup hardware. Sure, that's easy to say, but the proof is in the performance. WD also includes connectivity via FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 -- all cabling is included as well. A very nice touch. The WD SmartWare software mounts when you mount the drive and the setup is quick, easy, and effortless.
Once installed, you can personalize the LCD display and register the drive and 256-bit encrypt your password to protect access to your stored data. At that point, the software monitors both your Mac's internal storage and the capacity of both drives as well as checking for software updates. Simple backup is also part of the software package. The only real system requirement is Mac OS X (Tiger or later).
According to Western Digital, well ... you can do the math on how many songs, photos, movies, etc., this cool little drive can hold, but the real test is in the performance. Although WD does not provide the RPM speed of the internal drive, performance tests rated well for a bus-powered portable drive. Using the FireWire 800 connection, the My Passport - Studio drive rated 40008145bytes/sec and 41823064bytes/sec via USB 2.0. Certainly fast enough for most consumer applications. Oh yea, and it looks great doing all of it with its easy-to-read eLabel LCD display that stays on -- even when the drive is disconnected. The drive also comes with a three-year limited warranty.
For photographers, musicians, or with one of those cool WD home entertainment solutions, the My Passport - Studio is slick, secure, simple, and swift. This is a great personal drive and a great value. Stand out, it does.
Price: US$199 USD as tested (a 640GB). It's also available in 500GB and 320GB models.
Rating: 10 out of 10
-- Daniel East