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4/22/2008
03:29 PM
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External Hard Drives Buyer's Guide

We assess 25 of the hottest external hard disk drives from Cavalry, Iomega, LaCie, Maxtor, Seagate, Western Digital, and more.

SimpleTech

And you thought tech couldn't be simple if it tried. Fabrik disagreed and the resulting company, SimpleTech, really has made things easy.




SimpleTech Simple Drive
(click for image gallery)

Simple Drive
Capacity: 250, 320, 500 GB
Interface: USB
Durability Rating: Tip-over
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps
External Power Supply: Yes
Fan: Yes
Dimensions: 7.5" x 2.2" x 5"
Weight: 4.8 oz.
Price: $80 (320 GB)
Web Site

The name gives away the entire concept of this drive: USB interface, plug and play, in 250-, 320-, and 500-GB capacities. The catch is that you get 2 GB of online backup storage free of charge. That's not a catch? How about unlimited online storage for about $5 per month? No, that's not a catch either. Sounds too simple.




SimpleTech Pro Drive
(click for image gallery)

Pro Drive
Capacity: 500, 750 GB, 1 TB
Interface: USB, eSATA
Durability Rating: Tip-over
Transfer Rate: 400 Mbps, 3 GBps
External Power Supply: Yes
Fan: Yes
Dimensions: 10.5" x 4.0" x 9.0"
Weight: 55 oz.
Price: $270 (1 TB)
Web Site

Add some hard drive growth hormone to the Simple Drive and end up with the Pro Drive. There are 500- and 750-GB and 1-TB versions and they're equipped with USB and eSATA interfaces. The drive also is bestowed with the Simple Drive's same 2 GB of free online storage or unlimited online capacity for about $5 per month. It was probably simpler just to keep things the same.

US Modular

Somewhere in Irvine, Calif., sits a company called US Modular that boasts of having standard and custom storage solutions and providing 24/7 live tech support. We like a company willing to go to extremes.




US Modular XtremeDrive
(click for image gallery)

XtremeDrive
Capacity: 60, 120, 160, 250 GB
Interface: USB
Durability Rating: All-terrain
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps
External Power Supply: No
Fan: No
Dimensions: 5.83" x 3.71" x 1.36"
Weight: 8 oz.
Price: $229 (120 GB)
Web Site

The XtremeDrive is touted as an ideal solution for the military, which makes sense as it meets MIL-STD-810F and IP67 military standards. The exterior shell will protect the 2.5-inch drive during operation against the intrusion of dust, the ingress of water "in harmful quantity" at a depth of up to one meter, and up to 1.0 G of vibration. While there is limited availability of the 60-GB version, the 120-, 160-, and 250-GB drives are mainstays. The USB XtremeDrive weighs in at 8 ounces.

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