USB 3.0’s advantages aren’t just limited to its higher bandwidth either. Data can now travel both ways simultaneously through the interface, allowing for more intricate and complex communication with connected devices. The new standard also provides far more power, resulting in faster USB charging and hopefully making even more devices USB-powered (thus ditching the separate power adapter) than is the case today.
Now that you have an idea of what USB 3.0 potentially brings to the table, it’s time to take a closer look at the first commercially available external drive that’s offering this new technology. Buffalo’s DriveStation HD-HXU3 is an imposing 156 x 175 x 45mm, though its weight of 1.1kg is pretty standard. It’s designed so it can only be placed upright on broad rubber feet.
There are quite a few curves, which combine with the silver strip that runs down its centre and the blue/green LED at the top to make for a reasonably attractive look. Unfortunately, the glossy black finish is as eager as ever to woo fingerprints and dust. Build quality is excellent though, with solid plastics holding up flawlessly under pressure. With the drive you get a compact power adapter and of course that all-important one metre-long USB 3.0 cable.
The 1TB drive is preformatted to FAT32, so one of the first things Windows users will want to do is reformat using NTFS; after all, what’s the point of a 1,000GB drive that won’t take files larger than 4GB? Of course formatted capacity is lower at 931GB. For now, Buffalo’s HD-HXU3 will use a 7,200rpm SATA II 3.5in drive of unspecified brand as these might vary according to “market conditions” (i.e. whichever HDD manufacturer offers the cheapest reliable option).
Software for both Mac and PC comes pre-installed on the drive and it takes up less than 100MB. Mameo is a competent and visually attractive backup utility that takes only seconds to install. TurboUSB is another optional install, but if you’re using USB 3.0 we wouldn’t bother as, unfortunately, in our tests it gave absolutely no speed advantage whatsoever. This might change depending on future revisions by Buffalo, but until then there would appear to be no reason to install it – except on any USB 2.0 systems you might also hook the drive up to.