So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Western Digital My Passport Studio II
Fat, fast and versatile.
- Fast, FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 connectivity
- Boring design, larger and more expensive than the Passport Elite
Although it is bigger and more expensive than the near-identical Elite, the Western Digital My Passport Studio II provides lots of storage space and a FireWire 800 connection on top of the usual USB 2.0 port. If you have FireWire 400 or 800 ports on your computer, then it may be worth having a look.
Price$ 379.00 (AUD)
The Western Digital My Passport Studio II may use the same boring design as the My Passport Elite 320GB and the My Passport Elite, but it is different in two big ways: it's fatter and it's more versatile.
The Studio II looks like a Western Digital Elite that has eaten too many files and let itself go. Measuring 127(L)x82(W)x20(H)mm, this unit will be slightly harder to fit into a pocket than the Elite.
Behind a sliding dust cover and to the left of the mini-USB port sits a FireWire 800 connection. This greatly increases the potential transfer speeds of this device, as long as you have a computer with the appropriate port.
The heart of this portable drive is the Western Digital Scorpio Blue (WD5000BEVT). It has a 5400rpm spin speed, an 8MB cache and two 250GB internal platters; when we tested the Scorpio we gave it a very good rating of 4.25 stars. The hard drive is formatted in HFS+ for Apple computers by default, so Windows users will need to reformat the drive to NTFS or FAT 32 in order to use it.
We benchmarked the Studio II by transferring 5GB worth of files between it and a test PC equipped with a 7200rpm Seagate Barracuda ES2.
When connected via USB 2.0, the Studio II managed to get read and write speeds of 30.28 megabytes per second and 24.43MBps, respectively. We then transferred the data folder from one location on the Studio II to another, achieving an average speed of 13.72MBps. The results almost match those of the My Passport Elite.
Things kicked up a notch when we used a FireWire 400 connection (using the supplied FireWire 800 to FireWire 400 cable). The read and write speeds increased to 37.61MBps and 27.13MBps, respectively, and copying files from one part of the drive to another occurred at 16.26MBps. If you've got a computer that has a FireWire 800 port, you can expect even faster results.
The Studio II has a formatted capacity of 465GB, which equates to a cost per gigabyte of 81.5 cents. Its retail price is $10 more than the Seagate FreeAgent Go, but that unit is slower and less versatile.
Mac users will get a lot out of this drive, but PC users who don't have a computer that supports 6-pin FireWire 400 or FireWire 800 connections or don't care about the increase in speed should stick with the Elite and save $60. The Elite is also smaller and more stylish drive.
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