Maxtor Personal Storage 160GB 3000XT

External FireWire Hard Drive

Aimed at everyone from video, movie and music buffs to creative and production professionals, the $999 Maxtor Personal Storage 3000XT packs a hefty 160GB 5400rpm hard drive into an opaque, Apple-inspired compact external casing (41x152x219 mm - HxWxD) that can be used with any IEEE 1394 (FireWire) equipped PC or Macintosh. If your PC desktop or notebook doesn't have FireWire, Maxtor offers a 1394 ATA 133 adapter card and a 1394 PCMCIA adapter card for $165 and $245, respectively.

With FireWire's 400Mbps speed obliterating that of USB 1.0 (8Mbps), the drive, while not quite as fast as newer internal IDE hard drive configurations, was fast enough to run a video straight from it. The drive works with all flavours of Windows from 98 SE onwards, including XP, with setup basically comprising of plugging in the drive and waiting for it to be recognised.

Mac installation was pretty much as swift. OS 8.6-9 requires Apple FireWire extension 2.3.3, but after running the installer from the supplied Maxtor utility CD and a restart, the drive installs. OS X 10.1 was even easier: no restart was required, the drive only needed to be initialised (formatted) for Mac OS X.

There are a few things that you need to keep in mind. The useful fold-out setup guides state that the drive cannot be used to transport data between Windows-based PCs and Macs. In fact, it warns that if you connect the drive to a Mac running OS X after using the drive with a Windows-based PC, you will immediately experience data loss (due to OS X's need to initialise the drive). Also, the drive cannot be used as a boot device for Macs. It is not intended to be used as a portable product, as bumps and jolts may cause data loss.

All this should not concern most users, who simply need a flexible, all-purpose external storage solution - and a large one, at that.

Maxtor Personal Storage"160GB 3000XT

160GB external FireWire hard drive compatible with both PCs and Macs.

Price: 160GB $999; 80GB $699 (1-year warranty).

Phone: (02) 9369 3662.


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Danny Allen

PC World
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