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4/22/2008
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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.

Micronet (Fantom)

Does the Fantom know? Possibly. Micronet seems to know enough to produce some mysterious hard drives.




Micronet Titanium Mini USB MTT120
(click for image gallery)

Titanium Mini USB
Capacity: 160, 250 GB
Interface: USB
Durability Rating: Tip-over
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps
External Power Supply: No
Fan: No
Dimensions: 5.125" x 3.37" x 0.62"
Weight: 6.3 oz.
Price: $90 (120 GB)
Web Site

The USB "MTT" series consists of pocket drives in 80-, 120-, 160-, and 250-GB capacities that weigh in around 6 ounces and are powered through the USB bus. The downside is that the drive carries only a 1-year warranty while the hard disk industry in general is moving toward 3 and 5 years of coverage.




Micronet Fantom G-Force 500 GB
(click for image gallery)

Fantom G-Force
Capacity: 250, 320, 500, 750 GB
Interface: USB, eSATA
Durability Rating: Tip-over
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps, 3 GBps
External Power Supply: Yes
Fan: Yes
Dimensions: 7.75" x 4" x 1.375"
Weight: 38.4 oz.
Price: $132 (500 GB)
Web Site

Weighing in at a slim (for a desktop external drive) 2.4 pounds, the G-Force 500-GB drive permits both USB and eSATA connectivity. The aluminum case acts as a heatsink, negating the need for a fan. The big boy among Fantom drives also carries just a 1-year warranty.

Seagate

Although it gobbled up Maxtor, Seagate has managed to maintain its own identity -- and more. Its FreeAgent line of drives is actually stylish!

FreeAgent Go
Capacity: 80, 120, 160, 250 GB
Interface: USB
Durability Rating: Tip-over
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps
External Power Supply: No
Fan: No
Dimensions: 3.9" x 4.8" x 0.7"
Weight: 6.4 oz.
Price: $122 (250 GB)
Web Site

Seagate thinks you should not only have 80, 120, 160, or 250 GB of portable hard drive capacity, but also peace of mind when you take it with you. The USB pocket drive will let you run e-mail, keep cookies, IM contacts, and your settings and files on the drive so you can run and access them no matter what computer you've attached it to. And not only will leave no footprint behind, but it also will synchronize your data and keep it safely encrypted as well.




Seagate FreeAgent Pro
(click for image gallery)

FreeAgent Pro
Capacity: 500, 750 GB, 1 TB
Interface: USB, Firewire, eSATA
Durability Rating: Tip-over
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps, 400 Mbps, 3 GBps
External Power Supply: Yes
Fan: Yes
Dimensions: 7.5" x 1.4" x 6.3"
Weight: 16 oz.
Price: $260 (1 TB)
Web Site

Although this is technically a desktop drive, Seagate provides the same file and settings options as it does with the Go model for running some applications and accessing your data without leaving a trace of what you've done on an attached PC. There are two iterations of the Pro: one that supports FireWire, USB, and eSATA and another that lets you shave a few dollars off the price by omitting the FireWire option.




Seagate FreeAgent Desktop Drive
(click for image gallery)

FreeAgent Desktop Drive
Capacity: 250, 320, 500, 750 GB
Interface: USB
Durability Rating: Tip-over
Transfer Rate: 480 Mbps
External Power Supply: Yes
Fan: Yes
Dimensions: 6.4" x 1.6" x 7.5"
Weight: 16 oz.
Price: $100 (500 GB)
Web Site

While the Pro version of the FreeAgent tops out at 1 TB, the Desktop Drive takes a step "backward" with 250-, 320-, 500-, and 750-GB sizes. It also sports only a USB interface. Seagate's brag for this line is that its footprint is about the size of a stapler and the USB port is in the base.

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