Small, sleek and preloaded with a number of helpful utilities, the Seagate GoFlex Turbo ($179) makes a good first impression. But when it comes to speed and storage, the most important qualities of any portable hard drive, does the Turbo have it where it really counts? Read on to find out.
Click to EnlargeThe 750GB Seagate GoFlex Turbo appears to be a smaller version of the GoFlex Satellite. It features the same glossy black plastic top, silver plastic sides and matte finish on the bottom. Like the Satellite, the Turbo uses Seagate's proprietary docking connector, which allows you to easily switch the drive's interface from USB 3.0 to powered eSATA or FireWire 800. The only features of the Satellite missing on the Turbo are the power port and button on either side of the drive.
Measuring 4.4 x 3.3 x 0.5 inches and weighing 6.4 ounces, the GoFlex Turbo is positively sleek compared to its competitors. The LaCie Rugged Mini, which measures 5.5 x 3.5 x 1 inches and weighs 10.6 ounces, dwarfs the Turbo, while the Buffalo MiniStation Extreme, although small at 5.1 x 3.5 x 0.7 inches and 8.2 ounces, still cannot match it for size. To be fair, the latter two are bulkier as a result of having ruggedized features.
Setup and Utilities
While we could begin transferring files to the GoFlex Turbo immediately after plugging it into our notebook, the Turbo comes bundled with a number of handy utilities from Memeo that can be installed from the drive. The Seagate Dashboard, which launches as soon you plug the GoFlex Turbo into your notebook, makes the bundled software a breeze to install. Installed applications are listed at the top; software that is available for installation appears at the bottom of the dashboard.
Memeo offers two backup solutions, Instant Backup and Premium Backup. Instant Backup is the standard set-and-forget backup program, while Premium Backup offers a number of additional options, including the ability to create multiple backup plans for different files and folders.
Memeo Sync, Send and Share are also installed on the GoFlex Turbo. As its name suggests, Sync automatically synchronizes files stored in multiple locations, including computers, USB devices and portable hard drives. Memeo Send allows users to digitally transfer large amounts of data from one location to another, while Memeo Share keeps photos on multiple computers in sync and allows users to easily upload and download multimedia to their smartphones and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The applications themselves are intuitive. Using Memeo Backup Premium, we created multiple backup plans for our photos, documents, and desktop - making two copies of every file - within minutes. Memeo Send is similarly easy to use. Its visually appealing design makes it readily apparent how to use the program without ever watching the helpfully provided tutorial. Simply drag the files you wish to send into the open cardboard box, enter the recipient's email address and a personal message, and fire away. We were impressed that Send also offers a tracking feature that lets you know when the recipient has received and downloaded the files.
Despite such an excellent software suite, the GoFlex Turbo delivered below-average performance as a USB 3.0 drive. When we tested the drive's write speed, it took 2 minutes and 21 seconds to copy 5GB of multimedia files to the drive, a rate of 36.3 MBps. The category is almost 10 MBps faster. The Buffalo MiniStation Extreme, our category winner, offered a blazingly fast write speed of 74.2 MBps.
The GoFlex Turbo's read speed was closer to the category average, clocking in at 1 minute and 41 seconds, a rate of 50.7 MBps, but fell just below the 55.6 MBps average. The MiniStation Extreme once again beat the Turbo by a wide margin, clocking in at 86.8 MBps, as did the Iomega eGo with a read speed of 73.1 MBps. The LaCie Rugged Mini, although slower than the MiniStation Extreme and eGo, still exceeded the Turbo's read speed by 8.2 MBps.
When reading and writing a single 3GB file, the Turbo fared slightly better, turning in a write speed of 43 seconds (71.4 MBps) and a read speed of 33 seconds (93.1 MBps). These times beat or match the Rugged Mini (71.4 MBps write, 85.3 MBps read), and matched up well against the MiniStation Extreme, which had a faster write speed of 99.1 MBps, but a slower read speed of 87.8 MBps. Nevertheless, the Turbo still could not exceed the amazingly fast read/write speeds of the Iomega eGo (122.9/99.1 MBps).
The GoFlex Turbo looks slick and comes with a bevy of helpful applications, but as a USB 3.0 drive, it's middle-of-the-road. The Turbo caps out at 750GB for storage capacity, but at $179 it costs $10 more than the 1TB Buffalo MiniStation Extreme, which had much faster transfer speeds. While we like its software, value-conscious consumers will find a better deal elsewhere.