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External hard drives are becoming ever more common, and for good reason. They allow you to add masses of storage without needing to open up your computer's case, and they allow you to take all of that data with you wherever you go. But there are more differentiators between various external hard drives than you might think. Aside from the obvious capacity, speed, and physical size (2.5 or 3.5in) factors of the hard drive used, connectivity, cooling (which obviously affects noise) and style are all things to consider. At first glance, G-tech's G-Drive Q excels at all of these, so let's see if it holds up to more in-depth evaluation.
First of all, let's just clarify that this is a product aimed at Mac users, though it's actually just as at home when used alongside a PC. Its silver all-aluminium casing was designed to complement Apple's G4s and still goes perfectly with the new Mac Pro, Mac Mini, or even the latest MacBooks. To be honest though, an all-aluminium drive is going to look good next to almost anything, especially when it sports the industrial curves and lines of the G-Drive Q. A look that is perfectly finished off by the white LED-backlit section just under the G logo on the front, which flashes to indicate drive read/write activity.
The titular 'Q' refers to Quad Interface. At the back you'll find no less than Mini-USB 2.0, twin FireWire 800 and a single 400, in addition to eSATA, which is of course the fastest of the lot. G-tech claims its drive to be the first offering this kind of connectivity on external disk storage solutions, but this was back when it won the MacWorld EDDY award in 2006. Nowadays many premium external drives support an equal variety.
Basically though, this hard drive caters to every single external storage connectivity option currently in common use. Also at the back is an on/off switch, something many hard drives are sadly lacking: while you'll mostly want your external hard drive to be on when your computer's on, sometimes you don't and either way, I should be able to control it.
Even better, G-tech's effort actually comes with a cable for every single interface it supports, unlike my Western Digital Elite Book which only came with USB - not the format you want to use when both the drive and your machine support eSATA. In another nod to its Mac leanings, the USB and both FireWire cables are white, although the eSATA and power cables are black. The power brick is averagely-sized, at a length of 10.5cm, has a small green LED and takes a standard figure-of-eight power cable.
Getting back to the actual drive, the only immediately apparent caveat is that it's not very versatile in its placement as it is only designed to be positioned horizontally. The outer shell curves down into two 'legs' running along its length on either side, with rubber feet to dampen vibration and prevent damage. Between these are cooling fins which, in addition to the perforated sections of the 'inner shell', help the fan-less enclosure to dissipate heat. Unfortunately, despite its lack of fans the unit is still somewhat noisy, occasionally being audible even over my, admittedly uncommonly quiet, work machine. It also gets very warm - though never hot - to the touch.