Portable storage comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You can go for solid state removable USB keys, currently available up to 8GB in capacity and we’ve also looked at small hard drive versions of the same capacity from Memorex and Iomega . However, these are based on small Compact Flash sized drives, and are limited in capacity and performance.
If you want to go for a larger capacity drive then you might consider a fully fledged external hard disk drive such as this Seagate 400GB hard disk. However, this sort of drives is bulky and requires an external power supply, which seriously hampers portability.
This is where something like the Seagate Portable External Hard drive comes in. It’s a good compromise between the two, being portable yet also offering a decent capacity, with 160GB the largest size currently available. The drive inside spins at 5,400rpm, and has 8MB of cache, as you’d expect of a standard drive. There is a version available that spins at a faster 7,200rpm but that’s only available at a capacity of 100GB.
It doesn’t require any drivers to be installed and takes its power over USB. However, as it contains a full sized 2.5 drive internally, as used in notebooks, it requires two USB connections – one for data transfer and one to draw its power. This means that you have to take the cable with you, which is just something else to lose.
In the specifications, the drive is listed as weighing only 29g, though it came out on our scales at 31.5g, going up to 35.8g with the cable. Our scales are from Homebase though, so it’s not exactly atomic accuracy.
The drive’s housing is a very smart affair, with a two tone grey casing with a metallic grille round the sides, giving some airflow. At the rear of the casing is a mini USB socket for connecting the supplied cable. It’s preformatted for FAT32 and plug into Windows XP and it’ll pop up as a drive letter enabling you to drag and drop. As Seagate promises it’s also quite quiet in operation, which is always a boon. A blue light at the front of the drive illuminates when it’s plugged in and flashes while data is being transferred.
The drive supports both Mac and PC but Seagate suggests that you don’t use one drive to transfer files between one and the other. If you do need to do this then the manual suggests that you format the drive for Mac and then go out and buy third party software for Windows that lets you read and write from a Mac formatted drive.