WD My Passport Ultra: Think Local Act Dropbox

WD-My-Passport-Ultra

Local storage is all well and good until a flash flood sweeps through your home or a thief makes off with all your tech goodies; cloud-based storage also has its drawbacks, should you lose your connection to the Web or if Amazon’s servers suddenly collapse under the weight of all your holiday snaps. It’s perhaps with these considerations in mind that Western Digital’s latest hard drive range uses software that combines local storage with Dropbox integration.

The new drives are the latest entrants in the established Passport range, focusing on slim, portable drives that only require a USB connection to power up. They’re ideal for swapping between computers and backing up your stuff, though they don’t quite reach the speeds or capacities of full-size external drives. The new line-up comes in four colours (red, blue, black or grey) and a choice of three capacities (500GB, 1TB or 2TB).

All the drives are USB 3.0-enabled and come with hardware encryption and password protection capabilities, as handled by the aforementioned WD SmartWare Pro software. The latest edition of Western Digital’s proprietary software solution does a neat job of mirroring the files on your drive with your cloud-based Dropbox storage, though you’ll only be able to have your most important files in both places at once unless you fork out for Dropbox’s paid-for packages ($49.99 or roughly £32 a month for 500GB, at the last check). Dropbox gives users 2GB for free, though you can quickly increase that with referrals.

Each drive comes with a carrying pouch and USB cable. The 500GB model has a RRP of €89.90 (roughly £76), while the 1TB version will set you back €129.90 (£110). Pricing has yet to be confirmed for the 2TB edition, which is coming to retailers in the next month or two.

My-Passport-Ultra-Hand

At first glance the most impressive aspect of the My Passport Ultra is how small and svelte it is, even when compared with drives from the same line up just one or two years ago. These drives really are getting to the pocket-sized stage. The 500GB version we put through its paces was set up in seconds and transferred data at an impressive rate, particularly over USB 3.0 — you can expect to shift around 5GB of data every minute, which blows most other drives out of the water. A transfer rate of around 30MB/s was achieved over USB 2.0.

Hooking the unit’s integrated backup software up to Dropbox only took a couple of mouse clicks, and there’s a useful quick backup option that picks out the most important folders from your PC automatically. We would’ve liked to see a tool for backing up to Dropbox and the external drive simultaneously, but for now it’s either one or the other. Of course, you can always use the My Passport Ultra to create a copy of your existing Dropbox folder to keep all bases covered.

With Western Digital’s wealth of experience, as well as the hefty capacities and polished looks of the new models, it’s difficult to look past the My Passport Ultra range when it comes to portable hard drive solutions. That said, there’s plenty of choice out there — Freecom’s Mobile range is worth considering, and the company seems to take as much interest in the look of its drives as Western Digital does. Seagate is another of the big players with a strong track record, and its Wireless Plus drive works without cables and can be accessed by mobiles and tablets as well as computers (though you will of course pay a premium for the privilege).

Connected Data’s Transporter: Off-Cloud Social Storage

Transporter

There’s a lot to be said for the magic of the modern age. At the touch of a button everything I say or do can be transmitted across the world to an audiences of tens. And “cloud” storage has created an impressive array of possibilities for people or small businesses who want to access all sort of information at any point in time, anywhere. Although as Louis CK [link] likes to point out, “Cloud” is a euphemism for “big building with no windows and lots of security guards posted outside”. The amount of personal data we willing beam off into space and entrust into the hands of faceless corporate giants is insane. If I had to write down on paper all the things I send to Apple and Google on a daily basis I’d have some *serious* reservations. If I ever got movie amnesia I’m pretty sure Apple, Google and Facebook could tell me exactly who I am, in harrowing detail. Then again I like being able to share my data with friends and family. And have things like photos and documents backed up seems like the commonest of common sense in this digital age. So what is a boy to do? Enter Transporter.

The Transporter is an off-cloud social storage drive for privacy sharing, accessing and protecting one’s files. There are already a host of drives that enable shared storage – QNAP for example do an amazingly comprehensive NAS. But the Transport is built with regular people in mind, with usage more in line with day to day social sharing – not just the needs of a small business’s IT department.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4WtrvTBDA18

The key feature of Transport is that you own and control all the data that is stored on the device – making it your own private cloud. Users can access files across the internet and the Transport can quickly and easily make contact with other Transporter devices and users (saving many a headache). Because all the files are stored on the device and nowhere else, usage is 100% private – so you don’t have to worry about a sudden change in terms of service ala Instagram’s famous slip up.

The Transporter people also eager to point out that there are no recurring fees for the device. After you purchase a unit, you have the ability to share thousands of files with as many people as you like irregardless of size. All the magic of Dropbox with none of the restrictions. I do a lot of work with video and the ability to share huge HD files globally is a huge boon to productivity. You can also do this on a smaller scale with photos or confidential documents via connected folders. And because files aren’t in “the cloud” but secure hard drives you can circumvent regulatory prohibitions that can cause issues for certain professions.

If you’re an SME, you can also create secure Iron Mountain-style offsite backups by buying another Transporter, storing it in a secondary location and voila – changes on one device are automatically reflected on another. You can even hide and encrypt data on the remote backup.

Intrigued? Find out more at Connected Data. The Transporter w/ 2TB Drive is $399 with UK pricing expected later in the year.

Seagate Wireless Plus: Hard drives built for the road

In the materialistic world of gadgets it’s important to remember that you can’t take it with you when you go. The world of portable storage however, begs to differ and Seagate’s new Wireless Plus mobile storage device even wants to bring your friends and family to the party.

seagatewireless

I’ve always enjoyed companies innovating around limitations. Modern tablets and smartphones have very limited storage (although I’m writing this the day the 128GB iPad was launched) and rather than be confined by this, a new breed of Wireless hard drives that expands storage options has flourished. In the same way I’m hoping that the switch to Lightening ports on iPad will jumpstart a new wave of AirPlay and Bluetooth docks.

Seagate’s new Wireless hard drives are designed with sharing in mind and up to eight smartphones or tablets can wirelessly stream content. The 1TB drive has space for up to 500 high definition movies and a 10 hour battery life which is great for long road trips or flights, when you can’t access the streaming magic of platforms like Bloom.fm, Spotify and Netflix. So you can watch Tron even when you are off the grid.

The drive has a removable SperSpeed USB3.0 adapter loading your content should be quick and painless. There’s also an app (I type that 4 times a week) that works with iOS, Android and Kindle Fire HD devices. And if you have bigger plans, content stored on the Wireless Plus can be viewed on proper screens using an app designed specifically for Samsung Smart TV (2012 onwards) and Blu-ray players.

seagate2

Seagate Wireless Plus mobile storage is available from £169.99.

Buffalo MiniStation: Portable hard-as-nails drive

Buffalo Technology has announced the launch of the MiniStation Extreme – a US Military Standard, compact and sophisticated high performance portable hard drive. That’s going to be pretty damn tough, then.

MiniStation-Extreme

The MiniStation Extreme combines USB 3.0 and Buffalo TurboPC EX providing data transfer speeds of up to 5G bits per second (bps) making it very useful for all of the important social (and business) norms including the transfer and sharing of videos, large digital photo collections, music files and other data-intensive stuff.

The internal hard drive is encased within a highly shock-resistant body with life-saving rubberised elements. If our featuring of this product isn’t proof enough of its quality, then we’ll be glad to inform you that its shock protection features meet with United States Military Standard MIL-STD-810F 516.5 Procedure IV (so, it’s hard as frickin’ nails) and has passed free-fall drop tests of up 2.3m. Pretty damn tough. Like we said.

The new release is available in piano-black, silver and red colour, and is fitted with an integrated USB cable, which snaps to the chassis for pack-and-go portability.

Paul Hudson, Sales Director for Northern Europe at Buffalo Technology (who specialise in the design, development and manufacturing of storage and wireless networking solutions) comments: “The MiniStation Extreme is a prime example of Buffalo’s commitment to product innovation. This latest addition to the MiniStation family is ideal for globetrotters who travel with their PCs and portable HDDs and demand a robust, fast and secure high performance portable storage device.” 

Available in 500GB and 1TB, the MiniStation Extreme also includes 256-bit AES Full Disk Encryption (FDE) to protect your data from unauthorised access.

The recommended retail price for the 500 GB unit is £78 and it’s £113 for the 1TB unit.
For more information visit: www.buffalo-technology.com

Plextor PX256M2S SSD review

Harddrives ain’t the most glamorous of components; no matter how large or fast they get. SSD harddrives have injected a bit of glamour into the market by dramatically increasing performance, but they’re usually dismissed as toys of rich gamin’ playboys. Then one – the Plextor PX256M2S – landed on our desks and we changed our minds; it was wonderful.

Plextor PX256M2S

Using flash memory – i.e. the kind found in SD cards – Solid State Drives are much faster, smaller, lighter and less power-hungry than their old-school counterparts.

The Plextor is the same size as a standard 2.5″ drive, but weighs a meek 72g – nearly half the weight of a standard 2.5” HDD. It’s also pretty aesthetically pleasing, all smooth and silvery.

Aesthetics aside, the performance speaks for itself, with write speeds of 480MBps and read speeds of around 330MBps.

To achieve that intense throughput the drive uses the latest generation of SATA interface – the 6Gbps, SATA3 kind. That means your motherboard has to support SATA3 to get the full benefits – SATA2 may provide a bottleneck to the breakneck speed of the Plextor.

Of course, if you’re spending around £250 on a hard drive, shopping around for a slightly better motherboard is worth the effort.

Beneath the 256GB model, there are 64GB and 128B versions offering “up to 370MBps” for writing and up to 110MBps for reading.

Whatever the incarnation, however, the drives are fast. A straight-up clone of our 210GB Windows 7 installation onto the drive took 45 seconds to boot the first time – down from 77 on our old 5200RPM harddrive.

After a couple of boot-ups to perfect the file-cacheing, the Plextor fell down to just above 30 seconds – considering 7-10 seconds of that was BIOS time, that’s lightning.

The included software (Acronis TrueImage HD) allows you to easily transfer your existing Windows installation over to the Plextor, although some people have reported slight files errors. Of course, a clean install of Windows will always be the best option, and any problems will be the software – not the outstanding SDD.

While we love the fast boot times, it’ll also work well if you’re looking for a second drive for scratch disks (video or photo editing) or want to use Windows 7’s ReadyBoost feature. Ideally, get two.

LaCie Porsche design Mobile and Desktop Hard Drives

The brand name Porsche immediately conjures up thoughts of lavishness and luxury, so when Porsche Design – the luxury brand with a focus on technically inspired products – team up with LaCie –  a leading manufacturer of storage devices for PC, Apple and Linux that has always prided itself through ‘sleek design and remarkable technical performance’ – to produce LaCie Porsche Design Mobile and Desktop Hard Drives, the result, you would imagine, would be flawless functionality in its purist form.

Lacie-Porsche

LaCie’s latest evolution of its portfolio designed by Porsche Design can certainly be described as maintaining the superiority and workmanship supplementary of the Porsche signature. Not only does the aluminium frame the LaCie Porsche Design Mobile and Desktop Hard Drives are contained in exude elegance and quality, but it also presents a durable and scratch–resistant casing to protect the internal mechanics.

Speed, like elegance, is another Porsche-synonymous adjective, and the LaCie Porsche Design Mobile and Desktop Hard Drives are, according to LaCie, the “fastest USB 3.0 hard drives on the market”. Speed is at the heart of these luxury technical products, and users will enjoy transferring their digital data within seconds, causing little delay to time is of the essence lifestyles.

For those who have driven a Porsche, and unfortunately I am not one of them, powerful driving and effortless control, I am informed, is at the core of the experience. Continuing its devotion to providing an effortless experience to the affluent consumer, the LaCie Porsche Design Hard Drives come equipped with software that it is easy to install on PC and Mac. Each drive also includes backup software, to ensure users have complete control of all digital assets.

Unlike many manufacturing companies, luxury or mainstream, concern for the environment is not new at Porsche. In fact ever since the company conducted the first official emission testing of its sports car back in 1966, Porsche has a long history of developing innovative technology that has helped advance the industry’s efforts in producing more environmentally-conscious technology. In-keeping with the luxury brand’s commitment to producing products without being at the expense of the planet, the LaCie Porsche Design Mobile and Desktop Hard Drive’s frames are 100% recyclable.

Whilst no official prices have been released of the LaCie Porsche’s joint ultra-suave and sophisticated new storage accessories, we are slightly suspicious that, like anything associated with Porsche, the humble masses will be excluded.

GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage

Seagate – a global leader in hard disk devices and storage solutions – seems to be going from strength to strength, as not only is the company significantly expanding and strengthening strategic relationships with ‘big boys’ such as Samsung, but it is also creating remarkably innovative products within the world of digital data storage, most notably the GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless storage, enabling you to expand your media capacity without any wires.

SeaGate-GoFlex

With 500GB and Wi-Fi access over 802.11 b/g/n and a rechargeable battery, the GoFlex Satellite is the first battery-powered external hard drive to extend the storage capacity of any Wi-Fi enabled device – without wires or the web.

This latest edition to the GoFlex family enables GoFlex Satellite owners to carry all digital content, including video, picture and music libraries, as well as documents with them. Wi-fi enabled mobile devices are wirelessly connected directly to the GoFlex Satellite drive via the GoFlex Media App, which is available for free on the Apple app store and iTunes.

GoFlex Satellite users can connect up to three Wi-Fi enabled devices simultaneously, and with a stand-up battery life of up to 25 hours, users can enjoy a seamless and extensive local storage connection. Videos being plagued by interruptions and annoying cut-offs half way through will be a frustration of the past, as the GoFlex satellite’s powerful lithium polymer battery delivers up to five hours of continuously streaming video. Not only this but the GoFlex Media App offers an advanced download feature that temporarily loads the video onto the iOS device it is being streamed to, enabling the drive to go into stand-by mode.

Naturally excited by the launch of the Goflex Satellite, Patrick Connolly, vice president and general manager of Seagate’s retail group, spoke of the circumstances of how the GlFlex Satellite was created:

“With the growth of the tablet and iPad markets and the larger volumes of high-quality media now being consumed, there is a clear need for access to content that is not plagued with the challenges of streamed video over the internet. The unfortunate fact that is that these popular new mobile devices are hampered by their limited storage capacity while one of their primary functions is that of media consumption.”

If you want to unleash the media capacity of your iPad or tablet you can now purchase the GoFlex Satellite for $199.99 at Seagate.com, Amazon and BestBuy.com.

Seagate GoFlex Slim hard drive

How many files are clogging up your space on your laptop? Applications, programs, movies and music. They all take up valuable space especially bluray movies. A lot of people combat this problem by having a portable drive. The benefits of this are not only having space freed up but files on the go. Visiting a friend? No problem, plug a portable drive to their HD TV and show your favourite movie which they criminally missed.  The problem is the drives can sometimes be heavy, especially terabyte drives. Enter the Seagate GoFlex Slim.

GoFlex-Slim-Drive

The first thing you notice about the GoFlex Slim is how tiny it is. It really lives up to its name. At a super-svelte 9mm, it is about as wide as a wide a pen. Think of this as the supermodel of portable drives. It has a 7200 RPM drive and USB 3.0 interface which gives faster transfer speeds than USB 2.0. Mac users, do not feel left out as you can use the GoFlex Slim for Mac without formatting or loss of performance. Backup software is included and provides automatic and continuous backups and encrypts files and folders. You can easily sync files between your computer and drive so transporting files is easy as pie.

Tablets and sleek laptops may be the rage right now but the storage can sometimes be a problem. You may use the cloud or a network to access your content. Would it be easier to plug and play from a portable drive?

The size is an average 320GB. I would have liked a bit more or even various size options. But then it would not be so slim so I have to grit my teeth and compromise. If I am really honest do I really need to carry around any more memory than 320GB? You can get the GoFlex Slim for £79.99 now.