The next new interface, USB 3.0, promises twice the speed of the current USB 2.0 standard, and now that the new ports are starting to show up on notebooks, storage makers have begun producing external drives that take advantage of these blazing transfer rates. The best one we've seen yet is the Iomega USB 3.0 eGo Portable Hard Drive. For $129, you get 500GB in a tough, stylish case with loads of useful utilities. Add to that some of the fastest transfer rates, and you've got yourself the ideal portable hard drive.
The aluminum Iomega eGo drive is one of the most solid we've felt. Its sleek charcoal-gray and silver trim is a surprisingly dense 8.7 ounces, almost as heavy as the 9-ounce LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 drive, but about half an inch thinner (0.7 inches).
The svelteness of the drive belies it durability. The eGo is built to withstand drops of up to 51 inches, which isn't as much as LaCie's drive (72 inches), but still impressive. Clumsy consumers can also purchase the optional rubber Band ($14.95), which straps on the drive and provides protection from up to 7 feet.
As Iomega is owned by EMC, it's only natural that the backup software on the eGo includes that company's Retrospect Express Backup and MozyHome Online Backup, which recently won an Editor's Choice award. With the latter, users get 2GB of free online storage; it's not as much as the 10GB offered by LaCie, but then again, that amenity only lasts for a year.
Other utilities include the Iomega QuikProtect suite, which includes v.Clone software that backs up the operating system, settings, and applications, and will automatically syncs files. Unfortunately, this last program only works on Windows systems.
The drive comes with a three-year warranty.
While the Iomega eGo's 5,400-rpm, 500GB drive didn't win every test, it came in first on the ones that matter the most. Writing a 4.97GB folder of multimedia to the drive from a Lenovo W710 workstation took 1 minute and 58 seconds, a rate of 43.1 MBps. That was 4 seconds faster than the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 (41.7 MBps), and well above the last place Buffalo MiniStation Cobalt USB (36.6 MBps).
Reading the same folder from the Iomega took 1 minute and 20 seconds, a rate of 63.6 MBps. That's well short of the category leading LaCie drive (57 seconds; 89.3 MBps) and Seagate Agent GoFlex Pro (1:06; 77.1 MBps).
When transferring large individual files, the Iomega eGo was simply blazing. We copied a 1.66GB MPEG-4 from the drive in just 7 seconds, a rate of 283.2 MBps. That's almost three times as fast as the next closest drive, the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 (17 seconds; 99.9 MBps). The eGo fell back down to earth when writing that same file to the drive; it took the drive 28 seconds (60.7 MBps), placing it behind the LaCie (26 seconds; 65.3 MBps) and the Seagate drives (27 seconds; 62.9 MBps).
Thin, stylish, durable, fast, and cheap: what more do you want from a portable hard drive? The Iomega eGo is one of the fastest we've tested. Its great-looking case protects the drive inside from falls, and it has a comprehensive suite of backup and antivirus utilities. And at $129, it's less expensive than the other USB 3.0 hard drives we've tested. If you're looking for a future-proof external hard drive, look no further.