Western Digital Passport (160GB)
- Design and style, powered entirely off USB, no drivers or special software required
- Included USB cable is too short where the USB port is located on the back of the machine
A sturdy construction and stylish design make the Passport a good travel companion.
Price$ 429.00 (AUD)
External hard drives aren't exactly sexy, but you'd never know it by looking at the WD Passport. A glossy black finish gives it an appearance more akin to a desk ornament - while it's particularly prone to fingerprints, it also brings a touch of elegance to an otherwise boring office desk.
Eye candy aside, the Passport is available in 80GB and 160GB denominations, using a relatively speedy 5,400rpm platter. We tested the 160GB version; as far as hard drives of this capacity go, the Passport is a featherweight, gracing the scales at 104.8g. A compact footprint of 129.78mm x 79.78mm x 15mm - about the size of a PDA - also makes it small enough to slip into a back pocket if you're so inclined.
The Passport is powered entirely off USB, with a short cable included in the package. Thankfully this is of the standard mini-USB variety - measuring a scant 50cm, it's long enough to use with a notebook, but inadequate on a PC where the USB port is located on the back of the tower.
No drivers or special software are required to get the Passport and a PC or Mac talking - simply plug it in and you're off. WD Sync is an extra application bundled on the drive for synchronising files, Outlook data and machine-specific settings, making it easier to keep files and information consistent between PCs. It's not quite a backup program, but it offers similar functionality and is arguably more powerful.
Software from Google is also preloaded on the Passport, but unlike WD Sync, these programs don't run directly from the drive - you have to install them separately on each PC you connect it to. Also, these applications are freely available from the Internet, so this offering doesn't add much value to the overall package.
A sturdy construction makes the Passport a good travel companion, with a robust and reassuringly solid enclosure. Pressing down on the casing doesn't produce any worrying creaks, and the USB port is hidden behind a rubber stopper so it doesn't get damaged in transit. Four rubber feet on the unit's underside also prevents it from being knocked off a desk accidentally.
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