New hard drives claim speed boost

USB drives are still dull - only faster.

Buffalo Technology has announced a range of portable hard drives using a new technology claimed to significantly boost performance compared to ordinary USB 2.0 products.

Aimed at small businesses, the new MiniStation product uses the company's proprietary 'TurboUSB' technology to reduce file transfer overhead, thus improving speed. The technology, which works using an optimized driver and controller chip combination, is in the process of being rolled out across all of the company's portable and stand-alone drives.

In every other respect, the MiniStation is just another well-designed and fairly cheap USB drive based around a standard 2.5 inch disk drive. Coming in several capacities of 80GB up to 300GB, the unit features a clever wrap-around USB cable, and a shock-resistant case. Prices range from £55 (AU$134) including VAT, for the 80GB drive, and up to £173 for the 300GB version.

"We have developed the TurboUSB feature in response to consumer demand for faster and better performance from storage devices. The enhanced speed and functionality of the new MiniStation and DriveStation ranges enable users to back-up and retrieve photos, videos and files faster than ever before," said Buffalo Technology's Gerardine Lynch.

There are no independent benchmarks of the TurboUSB feature, and the company has quoted performance improvements ranging from 16 percent, up to 37 percent for the 3.5-inch DriveStation drives, and the headlined 64 percent for the 2.5 inch MiniStation. The actual performance will probably depend on the types of the size of the files being transferred and the drive formatting.

The company also announced the same technology in its DriveStation range, external 3.5-inch drives for desk-side applications. These include a power conservation feature that can power the drive on and off with the PC, and a basic backup utility with file encryption for security. Capacities run from 240GB, which costs £67 including VAT, up to the new ceiling for everyday storage, 1 TB, costing £304.

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John E. Dunn

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