Western Digital My Passport Studio 500GB external hard drive
A fast external hard drive with FireWire 800 and an electronic label
- FireWire 800 provides fast transfer speeds, FireWire 400 to 800 adapter provided, hardware encryption
- WD SmartWare backup software has limitations, eInk label is largely a gimmick
Western Digital charges a premium for its flagship Mac-formatted external hard drive, but the addition of an eInk label and the faster FireWire 800 interface make it a worthwhile choice of you need to transfer large files.
Price$ 239.99 (AUD)
Mac users rejoice: Western Digital has finally upgraded its My Passport external hard drive range with a FireWire 800 interface. This means faster transfers, though the considerably thicker enclosure is a slight trade-off for Nudie-wearing hipsters.
The biggest difference between Western Digital's Studio-branded external hard drives and the company's Essential models has traditionally been connectivity. The WD My Passport Studio offers up both USB 2.0 and the speedier FireWire 800, while the Essential models only have the former. As we noted with the My Passport Essential SE, WD is using micro-USB ports, which are allegedly sturdier than starndard USB ports but the cables can be more annoying to replace.
FireWire 800 is a great inclusion if you have a compatible device; it has a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 800 megabits per second. USB 2.0 is restricted to 480Mbps. It's also known to have a higher average throughput when transferring large files, which should mean faster overall performance using the interface. Western Digital even includes a FireWire 800 to 400 adapter, which means you'll be able to use the connection with older Macs and Windows PCs like the HP Pavilion Slimline S5380a.
The downside, though, is that FireWire 800 is a large interface, which means the My Passport Studio is bulkier than it would be otherwise. It's even slightly thicker than the higher capacity My Passport SE, so it might not fit in small pockets so easily.
An unusual feature of the WD My Passport Studio is its electronic label, which is like the one found on the My Book Elite. The eInk display is similar to the screens of e-book readers like the Amazon Kindle, and essentially acts as a capacity gauge and volume label. You can change the label with the bundled Windows and Mac-compatible WD SmartWare software and it can stay visible without power for six months. If you have multiple external hard drives, you can label what each one is used for.
Western Digital doesn’t include any formatting tools, so if you choose to change between Windows and Mac file systems, you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way. Thankfully, all bundled software is protected on the drive; if you do format, you won’t lose any of the utilities like you would on the Hitachi SimpleDRIVE Mini.
WD SmartWare lets you change your hard drive's label.
The bundled WD SmartWare software acts as a configuration hub for the hard drive, letting you configure the eInk label and manage the 256-bit AES hardware encryption and backup schedules.
WD SmartWare's backup utility is, like the HP SimpleSave Portable, designed to be intuitive and largely automatic. After categorising data on your computer and the external hard drive based on file extensions, WD SmartWare lets you choose which types of file formats to back up. While certainly simple, it doesn't let users set custom extensions, so obscure formats are simply be listed as "other" and bundled with miscellaneous system files. WD SmartWare supports up to 25 sequential backups of the same file, though the scope of configuration isn't as great as that offered by the BlackArmor WS 110.
Unfortunately, all the extra features do affect the price tag somewhat; with the current RRP you can expect a cost per formatted gigabyte of 51.6c. By contrast, a 500GB external hard drive without all the extra functionality (like the Astone ISO GEAR 290) will cost you about 32c per formatted gigabyte.
|Small File (3GB) Transfer Test Results|
|Western Digital My Passport Studio||$239.99||500GB||USB 2.0||25.4||13.1||7.2|
|Hitachi SimpleDRIVE Mini||$109||320GB||USB 2.0||26.1||17.5||11|
|LaCie Rikiki (USB Boost enabled)||$159||500GB||USB 2.0||30.9||17.2||11.1|
|LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive||$139||320GB||USB 2.0||24.5||17.1||11.1|
|Astone ISO GEAR 290||$149||500GB||USB 2.0||20.5||13.5||9.7|
|HP SimpleSave Portable||$139||320GB||USB 2.0||20.4||12.6||8.2|
|Transcend StoreJet 25M-R||$159.95||320GB||USB 2.0||23.8||15.3||7.2|
|Western Digital My Passport SE||$379||1TB||USB 2.0||26.7||11.7||7.6|
|Large File (20GB) Transfer Test Results|
|Western Digital My Passport Studio||$239.99||500GB||USB 2.0||28.1||21.2||9.7|
|Hitachi SimpleDRIVE Mini||$109||320GB||USB 2.0||28.9||23.8||12.7|
|LaCie Rikiki (USB Boost enabled)||$159||500GB||USB 2.0||37.7||26.7||13.3|
|LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive||$139||320GB||USB 2.0||27.4||25.9||12.7|
|Astone ISO GEAR 290||$149||500GB||USB 2.0||28.7||25.2||11.5|
|HP SimpleSave Portable||$139||320GB||USB 2.0||27.9||25.1||11.6|
|Transcend StoreJet 25M-R||$159.95||320GB||USB 2.0||28.5||24.3||11.9|
|Western Digital My Passport SE||$379||1TB||USB 2.0||31.4||24.8||11.2|
The My Passport Studio is an average performer when using the USB 2.0 connection, and you can expect similar results when using the FireWire 400 adapter. However, the FireWire 800 interface means you’ll be able to transfer large files at a much faster rate.
While we’re not convinced that an eInk label is useful on a portable hard drive, the FireWire 800 interface is certainly a godsend for Mac users who want to transfer large files regularly. Power users may want to invest in a better backup suite, however.
Stay up to date with the latest news, reviews and features. Sign up to PC World’s newsletters
Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Huawei Y5 (2017): Full, in depth review
- 3 LG G6 Plus: Full, in-depth review
- 4 First Look: Nikon D850
- 5 OnePlus 5: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Seagate joins Bain bid to take control of Toshiba Memory
- Seagate and Baidu sign strategic cooperation agreement for big data analysis
- Western Digital Announces Acquisition of Upthere
- Western Digital to acquire Tegile
- New development for Western Digital
PCW Evaluation Team
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.
It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.
- Jabra Elite Sport (2017) review
- How to download the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update right now
- Opinon: Life after KRACK
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
Product Launch Showcase
- CCSAP Finance AnalystNSW
- TPRelease CoordinatorNSW
- FTIT Service Management LeadQLD
- CCSite Acquisition CoordinatorNSW
- FTSenior Technical Business AnalystOther
- CCProject SAP Asset CoordinatorNSW
- FTEmail Campaign Production SpecialistOther
- FTTransport Capacity Planner - Telecom domainVIC
- FTCustomer Marketing ExecutiveOther
- FTSAP Operations AnalystOther
- TPDeployment Analyst - Office 2016 rolloutVIC
- FTMarketing Communications ManagerOther
- CCScrum Master - Digital/ Marketing ProjectsNSW
- CCSenior Workbrain Functional Expert - Brisbane BasedVIC
- TPProject OfficerQLD
- FTSenior Business Analyst - Superannuation/WealthOther
- TPICT Strategic Sourcing SpecialistQLD
- CCSenior Workbrain Functional Expert - Brisbane BasedNSW
- FTTeam Lead, Asset Mgmt & OperationsOther
- CCSenior Applications EngineerVIC
- CCSite Support Officer - FIFO - Cape PrestonWA
- FTIT Project ManagerOther
- TPProject OfficerQLD
- CCFinance AnalystVIC
- TPIT Security ManagerQLD