So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Western Digital My Book Studio 3TB external hard drive
WD My Book Studio 3TB review: Fast, stylish and Mac-friendly
- Sturdy, good looking
- Fast transfers over FW800
- No USB 3.0
- Formatted for Mac only (although easily fixed)
Western Digital's My Book Studio 3TB offers massive storage and fast transfer speeds to older-generation Macs using FireWire, and USB 2.0 is also included. We're waiting for a Thunderbolt update for Western Digital's range of Mac-friendly external hard drives, but for Macs of a slightly older vintage the My Book Studio is a high quality product.
Price$ 299.99 (AUD)
The Western Digital My Book Studio 3TB external hard drive is a simple solution for backing up data from your pre-2011 Mac via FireWire. If you've got a newer Mac you can use USB 2.0, but we'd wait for a Thunderbolt enclosure on those devices.
WD My Book Studio: Design and setup
The WD My Book Studio matches the latest crop of Mac desktops and notebooks — the iMac, the unibody MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini — with its brushed-aluminium finish. We're a big fan of this look — it's understated and quietly stylish and extremely scratch resistant. We carried the My Book Studio in a backpack with its power adapter in the same compartment, and the few surface scratches it sustained were easy to rub off with a damp cloth.
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There are no fancy screens on the My Book Studio, with only a single white LED on the enclosure's front. It flickers brightly when the drive is in use, and turns off when the My Book Studio enters its low-power standby mode. In this mode, the hard drive spins down, saving power and silencing the device — the only downside is a wait time of around 8.5 seconds when you start accessing the My Book Studio again.
The enclosure's rear has two FireWire 800 ports — one direct connection and one to daisy-chain another device — and a USB 2.0 port using a mini-USB connector. Any Mac up to the end of 2010 or thereabouts will be spoilt with the high speeds from FireWire 800, and every other Mac or PC can use the USB 2.0 connection instead. Of course, Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 would be preferable, but we expect a bit more of a wait until these connectors are common.
WD My Book Studio: Performance
The WD My Book Studio is available in 1TB, 2TB and 3TB flavours, with corresponding prices of $179.99, $229.99 and $299.99. We think the 3TB is actually the best deal: the amount of storage space is immense for a single drive, and the price really isn't too far off buying a Western Digital 3TB internal drive and cheap FireWire 800 enclosure. The drive is HFS+ formatted and so will only read and write on Mac OS X. You can easily re-format the drive to NTFS for Windows use, but this is another step for new and possibly amateur users to undertake.
We tested the WD My Book Studio by half-filling it with data and then transferring 13GB of files back and forth from a mid-2010 MacBook Pro (with a third-party 120GB SSD installed) over FireWire 800. We were able to transfer 13GB of files from the MacBook Pro to the My Book Studio in 3min 12.3sec. Reading 13GB of files from the My Book Studio to the Mac took 3min 29.3sec. Both tests were averaged over three successive runs.
These transfer times translate into raw speeds of 69.3MB/sec for write and 63.7MB/sec for reading files — more than fast enough for any average user's needs, and fast enough to deal with the demands of video or photo editing software suites. We haven't tested the USB 2.0 speed of the WD My Book Studio 3TB yet, but we expect figures of around 40MB/sec for both read and write.
WD My Book Studio: Conclusion
The Western Digital My Book Studio 3TB external drive is quiet, fast and has plentiful storage. Its reasonable price tag makes it an easy-to-recommend choice for any Mac user looking to boost storage capacity with an all-in-one device.
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