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Iomega eGo Portable 500GB USB 3.0

Madana Prathap 2011-03-13
84 Very Good
Price: Rs 3,999

Full Review

This Iomega eGo Portable 500GB external hard drive offers USB 3.0 SuperSpeed support, making it faster than normal USB 2.0 hard drives. It is a decent drive for storing and transferring large files to a USB 3.0-equipped laptop or desktop PC, and it ships with an encryption utility so that if the drive is ever lost or stolen, its contents can't be read. A major draw is the software that Iomega makes available for it online.


Design
The Iomega eGo Portable 500GB is not as sleek as other external pocket drives on the market. This is because its case has a "Power Grip" band around it that is designed to allow the drive to be gripped easier, possibly preventing drops. But it should not be misconstrued as any type of drop protection. In any case, you should treat this drive with the respect that you would give to any other portable drive. The glossy casing is coloured dark red, and the bands that fit above it are red-coloured as well, together diminishing any ugliness that fingerprints can cause.

The drive has one connector on it - the USB 3.0 interface - and this transports both data and power to the drive. The drive ships with a USB 3.0 cable (thicker than USB 2.0 cables), and you don't want to lose it, because its connector's shape differs from current mini-USB cables. As it is a Y-cable, two USB connectors can be used when using this HDD with older PCs that don't provide enough power over one USB port.

Features
This USB 3.0 SuperSpeed drive is compatible with USB 2.0 ports found on currently existing laptops/desktop PCs. For data safety, 256-bit AES hardware encryption is supported (which will only work on Windows though). Internally, it uses a 2.5-inch rotating hard drive. As is usual for a 500GB drive, the actual available data storage capacity is 465.1 GB. Iomega offers a 3-year warranty.

USB 3.0 cableIn the image to the left, note the differently shaped connector on the drive and cable sides to indicate USB 3.0 - similarly one of the USB connectors is blue colored (to indicate USB 3.0) while the other is simply white (indicating normal connector for power). The thickness of the cable leading to the blue connector is more than that leading to the white one.

The retail bundle includes a Quick Install Guide. A virtual CD drive embedded on the hard drive contains the Iomega Encryption Utility. Provided free is the "Iomega Protection Suite" that can be downloaded in its most recently updated avatar online.

When you first plug in the Iomega eGo Portable, it auto-starts the virtual CD to run its encryption utility. If you do want to use 256-bit AES encryption, it is best that you do it straight away before putting any data on the drive, as setting up encryption will wipe out everything from the drive. After enabling encryption, you will have to run the encryption program every time you plug in the drive and enter your password in order to be able to access the drive's data. If you don't want to encrypt your data, you can simply access the drive in the usual manner.

The downloadable Iomega Protection Suite software has to be the coolest part about the eGo Portable. With constant updates, you'll always get to download the latest version of the apps offered. These include Quik Protect (a backup tool), v.Clone (can back up and run your Windows PC as a virtual machine from the eGo), Trend Micro Internet Security, and Mozy Home Online Backup.

Performance
To prevent bottlenecks, we use our top-end test-rig for testing the Iomega eGo over its USB 3.0 interface. On synthetic benchmarks we measured a read speed average of 71.2 MB/s and a write speed average of 62.4 MB/s. Read and write access times averaged 18.9 ms and 9.21 ms (milli-seconds) respectively, with a CPU usage of 6 per cent on average.

HD Tach graph
HD Tach RW: A performance graph.

Real world file transfer read/write speeds conducted when the drive was empty, showed a speed of 65.9 MB/s and 63.0 MB/s respectively for a single large file (6.42 GB), but fell as expected to 54.9 MB/s and 40.6 MB/s respectively, when copying multiple smaller files (1287 files totaling up to 2.33 GB). Transferring these small files from the first partition to a second one on the same drive (simultaneous read/write) was at a speed of 17.5 MB/s.

To view these details in an easier table-based layout, take a look at the "Performance" tab of this review. I find it worth noting here, that within an hour of starting tests, the drive was feverishly warm to the touch – it heated up to the extent that no external drive until now at the PCW Labs has. This is not bad by itself, considering its good speeds but certainly must be kept in mind.

Bottom Line

The Iomega eGo Portable 500GB USB 3.0 external hard drive is an attractive option in the market. The drive is quite a looker in its red casing and grip bands, even if it is not the thinnest of the lot. At Rs. 3,999 it is priced a bit higher than competing brands, however its value additions do count. Chief among them, I count the virtualization offered by v.Clone as the kind of functionality enhancer that seals the deal for those who work on multiple computers.

Adoption of the USB 3.0 interface translated into real-world large file write speeds that easily occupy the top rungs. Backup software and support for hardware-level 256-bit AES encryption are also good features. But preferably get the 1TB variant of this drive (Rs. 6,000) to get a bit more of your money's worth. If you just want storage capacity without Iomega's value-adds, get the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 1TB at a lower price (Rs. 5,000).

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