A generic monitor not specifically designed for photography isn’t going to deliver the colour quality we seek. Processing images on the BenQ SW271 gives the user a stunningly vivid colour range.
Toshiba Canvio Slim portable hard drive
A slim and attractive external hard drive that's a great companion for an Ultrabook
- Password utility isn't great
Not all sub-$100 portable hard drives are created equal. The Toshiba Canvio Slim offers more style than most, and it's a very thin drive that would go well as a backup or supplemental drive for an Ultrabook.
Price$ 79.00 (AUD)
The Toshiba Canvio Slim hard drive is one of the most stylish pocket drives on the Australian market, and definitely one of the smallest. Indeed, the Canvio Slim is true to its name. At only 9mm thick, it's thinner than most typical 2.5in laptop hard drives, which on their own without a case are 9.5mm thick. At 150g, it's also very light and can easily be carried in a pocket rather than a laptop bag.
A brushed aluminium finish gives the Canvio Slim an elegant look and it feels quite solidly built, too. That said, you won't want to mistreat it or drop it — it is a mortal hard drive after all. It has a USB 3.0 interface, a 5400rpm spin speed, and it supplies a storage capacity of 500GB (465GB formatted). You don't need to plug in a power adapter or a second USB cable to give it power; it draws all it needs from one USB port when you plug it in to your computer.
One thing we love about its design is the status light, which shines white when you plug it in to a USB 2.0 port, and blue when you plug it in to a USB 3.0 port. You just have to remember that blue is fastest. We tested it while it shined blue, and it performed well. Our test system was equipped with an Intel 335 solid state drive (SSD) with a capacity of 240GB, and this is a quick drive in its own right.
When transferring large files (12GB to 102GB) from the Toshiba Canvio Slim to the laptop's SSD, we achieved a rate of 105.72 megabytes per second (MBps), while small files (100KB to 1MB) got a slightly slower rate of 96.6MBps. Large file transfers from the laptop back to the Toshiba Canvio Slim drive recorded a rate of 101.15MBps, while small file transfers got 67.9MBps. When we tested the Canvio Slim with CrystalDiskMark, it recorded a sequential read rate of 110.4MBps and a write rate of 110.1MBps for 1GB files, which is close enough to what we got in our real-world transfers.
Basically, it's a drive that's particularly well suited to backing up Ultrabooks that have solid state drives of 128GB to 256GB, not only because it will perform well, but also because it looks stylish enough to be carried around with such a laptop — we're imagining it paired with the lovely Toshiba KIRA, for example. It also ships with NTI backup software that allows you to either backup individual files and folders, or to perform a complete system backup. The latter task makes the drive bootable so that you can easily restore your laptop if you ever run into any problems with the system.
The initial full backup of our laptop's SSD took a quick 4min to complete, although subsequent incremental backups also took a few minutes after that. You can set the NTI backup software to initiate backups as per a schedule, but you do have to remember to have the hard drive plugged during those times. Restoring our system was easy, and it took all of 5min to complete.
It's worth pointing out that the NTI software interface isn't nearly as stylish as the drive it comes with. The window can't be maximised and it just looks a little ugly overall. That said, it's easy to use and has icons that make it clear to identify each task. Furthermore, the drive's backup files can be encrypted (up to 256-bit) through the NTI software. You can't encrypt an existing backup; you have to start a new, encrypted backup. This doesn't encrypt and password-protect the whole drive, so you can still access any other files that you place on the drive, and use the drive on multiple systems.
The drive also ships with a Toshiba password utility. If this is enabled, it password-protects the whole drive. The password utility doesn't execute off the drive when you plug it in, which means it needs to be preinstalled on all the systems that you wish to use the Canvio Slim. If you don't install the password utility on your other computers, then you won't be able to access the drive at all.
The Canvio Slim can be bought for $79 from Officeworks, and this gives it a cost per formatted gigabyte of around 17 cents. This is the same as other typical 500GB portable hard drives from Buffalo, Seagate or Western Digital. However, the Toshiba offers better styling than those drives, as well as a thinner profile. If those things are important to you, then it's a must-buy.
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