Pros:Sleek profile, convenient portable storage solution.
Cons:Price point and data transfer speed.
The Bottom Line: Although sleek and good looking, similar products may be found which perform better and cost less.
There are a bewildering number of options when it comes to portable storage. Without any serious research or forethought I recently purchased one of Western Digital’s “My Passport Essential” 250 GB portable hard drives. This is a short review of its features and performance.
Recommend this product?
Although Western Digital offers a “My Passport for Mac” version which is specifically formatted for Apple computers, the less expensive Essential model can also be used for Macs. It simply requires overwriting or erasing the PC sync and encryption software that is already installed. Apple’s Time Machine software can be used by identifying the Passport Essential as the backup drive, or you can simply copy files to it using your own methodology.
The 250 GB Essential model is the smallest in terms of capacity in this series made by Western Digital. I purchased it for a retail price of $79.99 (tax excluded), which equates to 32 cents per GB – not the cheapest memory solution when compared to some other lesser known models and internal hard drives.
However, the Essential is small and light, making it not only a good solution for portable data storage, but also ideal for backup. It has a very small footprint on the desktop and doesn’t require any other power source than the USB cable that’s included.
There are faster hard drives available that use FireWire, but the USB 2.0 connection is, I feel, ideal for file back up. Although USB 2.0 theoretically supports rates of up to 480 Mbit/s (60 MB/s), I found it to be a little slow on my new iMac. A 225 MB file took 10 seconds to transfer. This performance level isn’t as fast as I’d like, but then again, most of backups are done at night, when I’m not using the computer, and the timing is irrelevant.
The Essential measures .59 inches high, by 4.97 inches long by 3.13 inches wide, and weighs 6.4 ounzes. One slightly odd feature is that the placement of the LED. It is supposed to light up to indicate when it has power and also flashes during data transfer. However, it’s on the same end where the cable is plugged in, and due to the short length of the cord, it faces away from the user. It would have been better placed on the opposite end of the hard drive where it would be more visible.
The essential comes with a five-year warranty. If it works as intended during the next five years (and hopefully beyond), then I would consider it an OK value in terms of price. The aesthetics and design are nice, outside of the LED placement. Overall, it’s not a bad product, but one can probably find an equivalent for less if they shop around.