Iomega unveils large USB 3.0 drives

Modest speed boost for laptops

Iomega has become the latest vendor to add SuperSpeed USB 3.0 to its external hard drives, announcing a swathe of portable and desktop products.

Most interest will centre on the new eGo Portable Hard Drive, which comes as a 500GB capacity unit that will have to be used with a separate USB 3.0 Express Card adaptor card to get improved performance.

Desktop PC users, meanwhile, are being offered the eGo desktop Hard Drive, which offers the same USB 3.0 interface but with larger capacities of 1TB and 2TB.

Iomega is claiming up to 10 times the performance of the equivalent USB 2.0 eGo drives, which have also been refreshed with higher capacities, including the 1TB eGo Portable Hard Drive Compact Edition.

Impressive as this sounds, informal tests carried out by ComputerworldUK.com's sister title Techworld some weeks ago suggest that as far as laptops are concerned the transfer boost will probably be much more modest. Desktop USB 3.0 drives can be used with internal USB 3.0 PCI Express adaptors at a reasonable tilt, but laptops have to make do with the more limited Express Card 1.0 interface. Until a newer version of this spec arrives - it is due out this year - this interface will restrict USB 3.0.

Mac users might be tempted by the new eGo Blackbelt Mac Edition drive, which sticks with Firewire 400/800. This is basically a portable drive with rubber protection belt that claims to protect against drops of up to seven feet. Bar the formatting using HFS, some colour co-ordination and the odd bit of backup software, Iomega's Mac drives are identical to PC equivalents.

Iomega does appear to add software benefits to its drives not always available with skimping rivals. Thsese include a 1-year subscription to Trend's Internet Security Suite as well as a serviceable backup utility, QuikProtect. Parent company EMC's Retrospect is also part of the deal but only in its Express version.

The 500GB, USB 3.0 eGo drive costs £89.50 (inc VAT), while the 2TB desktop version costs £157.90. As ever, the Mac user pays more. The equivalent 2Tb desktop drive for Apple will cost £214.99. The Express Card interface for laptops costs £34.99, with an identical price for the internal PCI Express version for desktops.

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John E. Dunn

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