400GB External Drive
Next on the list is Seagate's new 400GB and fancy external drive. The unit is much less portable than the 5GB pocket drive and will not fit in your pocket no matter how big it is. This unit is designed for users in need of massive amounts of storage and who are on the go. In fact (and according to Seagate), it will hold 100 two-hour DVD quality movies, 400 hours of VHS quality video, 6400 hours of music, 100,000 digital photos or 575 games.
The unit follows a similar stylish color scheme to the 5GB pocket drive and is made mostly out of plastic although still solid and very sturdy. The unit can stand up right with the included stand or if you want to buy more than one, they can be stacked with a unique clip design.
The drive inside the unit is a 7,200 RPM drive with 8MB of cache and we'd guess it's a PATA drive since both USB 2.0 and Firewire cannot transmit data at the maximum speed of SATA which is 150MB/s (not even IDE for that matter) - Firewire can transfer up to 50MB/s while USB 2.0 "Hi-Speed" can transfer up to 60MB/s. There are also 200GB and 300GB versions of this unit available with a 500GB option arriving shortly. You can also buy cheaper "storage only" versions (without the push button backup feature) in 160GB and 250GB versions.
The picture above gives you an idea of the size of the unit next to the DVD version of Battlefield 2 - it's around the same height but almost double the thickness. The unit isn't light and weighs in at over two pounds. The unit is fairly quiet omitting less than 25 db of noise which is lower than most case fans. The most noise you can hear is a slight hum and the most noise you hear is when the device is first turned on and the drive goes through its usual boot up sequence. Even when the drive is being thrashed with data transfers, it's quiet.
On the front of the device is where things start to get interesting. Included in the package is a piece of software called BounceBack Express. You'll notice the button in the picture above in the middle of the two activity lights (power and disk activity), this is the backup button. After you've installed the software and configured it correctly, after pushing the button the data on the Seagate external drive will automatically be backed up to a drive of choice on your system.
As mentioned earlier, you can connect this unit to your PC via USB 2.0 or Firewire depending on what you have available on your system - we'll test which method provides the best performance shortly. Installation is a piece of cake - if you're using Windows XP, just plug either of the devices in and Windows does the rest, no drivers required. If you're using older versions of Windows (such as ME or 98) you'll need to use the included driver CD. Included in the package are both cables along with the power cable. On the back of the unit is an extra Firewire port and this is in case you intend on daisy-chaining to another Firewire device which you may have.
Our only real concern with the device is that it doesn't seem to include any cooling fans inside the unit. We couldn't work out how to open up the unit to take a closer look minus breaking the thing to bits. Inside there does appear to be a lot of aluminum which seems to suggest the drive might be passively cooled. There are air vents on every side of the unit which allows for decent airflow but we would have felt more comfortable seeing a couple cooling fans (even though there could well be tiny fans inside the unit we cannot see).