- Review Price: £141.00
External hard drives have become very popular since USB 2.0 and FireWire became standard on most PCs and notebooks. Both USB 2.0 and FireWire offer decent transfer speeds, so they are well suited to external storage solutions at a more affordable price point than the traditional SCSI offerings. Add to this the fact that hard drive capacities keep increasing and prices keep dropping, and it’s easy to see why external devices have become popular for both consumer and business markets.
Of course external hard drives are easy to use, you plug them in, wait for Windows to detect the device and it appears on your computer just like any other hard drive. Considering that the average PC is shipping with at least a 120GB if not a 160GB hard drive these days there is really no other way of keeping a full backup of your PC than by using a similar sized external drive.
The Seagate device on test here is the first 100GB external hard drive to arrive at TrustedReviews which features a 2.5in disk. This means that this is a far more compact device than most external hard drives, although it can’t quite compete in terms of capacity. The hard disk inside the very stylish metal casing is rated at 5,400rpm so it won’t be as fast as the latest generation of 3.5in hard drives, but this still represents a decent turn of speed for a 2.5in drive.
Where it does compete with desktop drives is when it comes to cache memory – just like many current 3.5in drives, this one comes with an 8MB cache. Seagate also offers a 40GB version, but this only sports 2MB of cache. Of course the amount of cache probably won’t have a huge impact on performance, since the interface is always going to be the bottleneck.
As I mentioned, the drive case is very stylish looking, with air vents all around the sides – apart from the back – and there is a hidden blue light at the front that illuminates when the drive is plugged in. The case itself is made from chrome plated aluminium and Seagate claims that it’s scratch resistant. Two rubber strips at the bottom keep the drive from scratching any surface it may be placed on, but they don’t make it stick to the surface. The back of the casing is were the mini USB port is located as well as a power connector, although no power supply is provided.
A USB cable is supplied and this has a mini USB connector at one end and two standard USB plugs at the other. One is blue and labelled power only while the other one is green and is labelled power+data. This has been done to avoid any confusion as to what the two connectors do and both need to be plugged in for the drive to work properly. The reason for this is that the hard drive needs more than the 500mA of current that a single USB port can deliver.
The Seagate is not as small as some other external 2.5in drives – it measures 94 x 127 x 25mm (WxDxH). This makes it quite a bit larger and heavier than my current external 2.5in drive although it feels a lot sturdier. The heavy duty casing definitely adds to the weight, as it’s hardly feather weight at 292g. This equates to about the weight of three modern mobile phones. That said, I think that a solid and strong casing is worthwhile with a delicate device like a hard disk.
As this drive is much larger than the 5GB Seagate Pocket hard drive that I reviewed previously, I decided to work it a bit harder. To test the drive I copied a DVD sized amount of data – 4.41GB to be precise. This took four minutes and 10 seconds to copy across to the 100GB Seagate drive. Reading the same data back to the desktop PC took a less impressive six minutes and 21 seconds, but neither result is really all that bad considering that the USB 2.0 interface is the bottleneck here.
The drive does of course work with a wide range of operating systems and apart from all versions of Windows from 98SE upwards, it also works on Macs. However, it is worth noting that if you only have USB 1.1 ports on your computer you will need an optional power adapter and of course, performance will be severely compromised.
The drive comes with a one year warranty, which seems a bit stingy when you consider that Seagate’s other retail products come with a five year warranty. The price might seem steep at first at £140.94 inc VAT which gives a price per GB of £1.41 which doesn’t compare too favourably to larger 3.5in drives. But if you don’t want to carry a large unit around with you and still require a decent amount of storage space, the Seagate definitely looks attractive.
The 100GB USB 2.0 portable hard drive from Seagate definitely isn’t as cost effective as a 3.5in external unit, but it is smaller, lighter and still large enough to store masses of data.
Score in detail