The last while, we've reviewed portable 2.5 inch USB drives from both Maxtor (OneTouch 4 Mini) and Buffalo (MiniStation TurboUSB). Both units were solid performers and seemed to bring their own unique features to the table. This time, we've managed to snag one of Western Digital's new MyPassport Elite 2.5 inch Portable USB Hard Drives. The Elite gives us a unique enclosure with a soft-touch finish and an innovative external capacity gauge. It comes in capacities of 250GB and 320GB and is backed up by a 5 year warranty. Let's check it out!
Features and Specifications
The MyPassport Elite sports a USB 2.0 interface for a transfer rate of up to 480 Mbps and is backwards compatible with good ole USB 1.1 in a pinch. The unit measures 15mm x 126.15mm x 79.5mm making it one of the slimmest portable drives that I've come across to date and weighs in at 0.18kgs. Inside the unit is one of Western Digital's GreenPower 2.5 inch SATA 5400RPM hard drives with a 2MB buffer in either 250GB or 320GB (as tested) keeping power drain to a minimum. It'll be interesting to see if this has an impact on performance.
The MyPassport Elite comes in four colours which include Blue/Red/Brown and Silver (as tested) and is coated in a soft-touch finish that prevents it from slipping out of your hand. The unit is compatible with most modern Mac and Windows systems, but comes pre-formatted for Windows.
What's Inside the Box?
The My Passport Elite comes with a small quick start manual and other small pieces of paper that we never read, a single short USB cord and of course a 320GB version of the drive in Silver. I really did like Western Digital's packaging job on this retail box. The package is easy to open unlike those stupid blister packs and included all the relevant information the clear plastic box to let the user make an informed decision.
I was also happy to see that Western Digital didn't just stuff some generic mini-USB cord into the box that would defeat the purpose of keeping the drive small in the first place. Although it isn't as well integrated as the one used by the Buffalo Mini Turbostation, it is a step in the right direction. Missing from this drive is the secondary USB cable that is sometimes required by anemic USB ports to supply enough juice to the drive. Western Digital does note this in their documentation and offers to ship this double USB cable to anyone who needs it, but most modern systems should have no problem.
The mysterious soft touch finish does have a rather grippy feel to it without adding any bulk. Unfortunately, luxury didn't seem to last for me. After packing it around in my laptop bags for the last week, the near velvet softness of the enclosure quickly wore away. It just didn't feel the same anymore. I also noticed that the finish was fairly susceptible to scratching. I was actually wondering why Western Digital was offering 20% off to owners with a coupon strategically placed in the box. I guess it's too late for me now, but if you do pick up the drive, take them up on the case offer.
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