Tag Archives | Hard Drives

Seagate’s Svelte New External Hard Drive

Thin is in, and Seagate has answered that call by launching the thinnest external hard drive on the market. Dubbed the GoFlex Slim, the drive has 320GB of storage and retails for $99.99. The drive measures in at about 9mm, which is about the average overall height of the MacBook Air.

If your computer supports USB 3.0, you’ll be able to take advantage of the faster transfer speeds with the GoFlex Slim. It is also compatible with both the Mac and PC, and includes backup software with the device. For you Apple purists, there is a Mac-only version available, making it an appealing companion for Time Machine.

From where Seagate is going with this drive, its market is pretty obvious: netbooks and ultraportable notebooks. If you’re going with something that small, you’re not going to want a bulky external drive with it — so Seagate sees a natural market for a drive that puts the emphasis on thinness, even though it’s possible to buy a chunkier drive with higher capacity for the same price.


Drives With a Difference

Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Hitachi LifeStudio Mobile Plus

Price: Starts at $109.99

A hard disk is a hard disk is a hard disk–or so it can seem, anyhow. It’s certainly tough to make one stand out from the crowd. But Hitachi took several steps to make its LifeStudio Mobile Plus line of external drives feel like something beyond the same ol’ same ol. For one thing, it worked with the folks at Cooliris to give LifeStudio drives a 3D browser that lets you explore a drive’s contents visually and share photos and videos on Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. It also provided the drives with backup software that can save data to Hitachi’s online service as well as to the disk. And it gave the disks their own satellites–in the form of dockable thumb drives that let you put a subset of the hard disk’s contents in your pocket.


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Iomega Portable Hard Drives Hit the Big USB 3.0

Do you own a computer with USB 3.0 ports? Probably not. You will, though–and when you do, you’ll want USB 3.0 devices so you can take advantage of the sizable speed boost.

USB 3.0-equipped peripherals, like USB 3.0 PCs, remain somewhat exotic. But here’s some good news: Iomega is announcing that it’s going to replace all its current USB 2.1 portable hard drives with USB 3.0 models. The transition starts with new versions of the company’s 500GB and 1TB eGo drives, due in October. It says its other models will follow suit, starting in the first quarter of next year.

Iomega isn’t announcing how much the USB 3.0 drives will cost, because it’s not sure what the going rate for portable drives will be in October. But it is saying that you won’t pay a premium for the USB 3.0 models over 2.0 versions. (It currently charges $114.99 for a 500GB eGo and $189.99 for a 1TB one.) The new versions will come with AES 256 hardware encryption standard, and are rated to survive a seven-foot drop–twice the industry average, Iomega says,

USB 3.0 drives work fine with USB 2.1 ports–at 2.1 speeds–so there’s no reason not to buy a USB 3.0 drive, even if you can’t take advantage of its speed just yet.

USB 3.0 portable drives aren’t new, but they’ve been nichey products at a premium price; Iomega’s move to replace 2.1 models with 3.0 ones at similar price points is a welcome development. If Iomega can afford to make USB 3.0 standard, it seems like a good bet that Seagate (which currently sells USB 2.1 drives that can be upgraded to 3.0) and Western Digital will do the same before too many months pass.

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In Japan, More Xbox 360 Storage Than Necessary

It’s a time-honored geek tradition to lust after gadgets released in Japan, but I wouldn’t waste any desire on Microsoft’s 250 GB Xbox 360 hard drive.

The drive will be sold as a standalone product in Japan starting March 11 for roughly $170, according to this Impress press release. Stateside, Microsoft currently sells a 120 GB hard drive for $150.

Microsoft could bring the 250 GB drive to western markets soon, but not necessarily as a standalone product. Last month, Kotaku reported that the Xbox 360 Elite, which includes a 120 GB drive, was out of stock at Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Gamestop. This suggests that Microsoft is clearing out inventory to make room for Xbox 360s with bigger drives.

I could see why Microsoft would want to pack 250 GB hard drives into its consoles. The basic Playstation 3 slim includes a 120 GB drive, so Microsoft would have one more selling point for the Xbox 360. A standalone drive could theoretically follow, just to even things out.

But to the original point, a 250 GB HDD isn’t necessary, especially if you’ve already got a 120 GB drive. So much of the Xbox 360 is streaming, including 1080p videos in the Zune Marketplace, Netflix Instant Watch movies, Last.fm music and your PC’s entire music and video library. I’ll admit that my Xbox 360’s 20 GB drive feels cramped (though I still have about 5 GB left), but latecomers who got a 60 GB or 120 GB drive won’t have that problem.

Extra storage is best-suited for people who install lots of games to the hard drive and never uninstall them, download insane amounts of Xbox Live Arcade or On Demand games and prefer to put all their music and movies directly on the console. If all three scenarios don’t apply, I imagine 120 GB will be enough, especially given the price of Xbox 360 hard drives as a whole.


Seagate Plugs Into Pogoplug for FreeAgent Go

Seagate DockStarA few months ago I reviewed Pogoplug, a gizmo that lets you connect USB drives directly to the Internet for access from anywhere. I said the best thing about it was the slick, simple service that let you get to your files from any browser. Seagate seems to like the Pogoplug service, too: It’s announced DockStar, a dock for its FreeAgent Go portable hard drives that you connect to your router via a Gigabit Ethernet port. Presto–your FreeAgent is on the Internet, along with up to three other drives via the DockStar’s USB ports. It uses PogoPlug’s service, letting you share folders or entire drives full of photos, videos, and other items across the Net–either to the world at large or to specific friends who you grant access.

Here’s what Pogoplug’s service looks like in your browser (this image is a rerun from my earlier review):

The DockStar looks sleeker than PogoPlug’s own bulky wallwart hardware and costs the same–$100. If you’ve got a FreeAgent Go and are intrigued by Pogoplug’s capabilities, this is the one to get.

In separate Pogoplug-related news, the company has announced a new social networking feature that lets you publish photos and videos to Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. The content stays on your hard drive so there are no limits to capacity, resolution, or length, and you can use Pogoplug’s authorization features to turn access to your stuff on and off at any time.

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Talk About School Gadgets, Win a Half-Terabyte of Portable Storage

Seagate Free Agent Go[UPDATE: The contest is over–thanks to everyone who entered. We’ll announce a winner shortly; if you have a comment here, you’re in the drawing.]

Hey, it’s back-to-school time! I’m just glad I’m not going back to school myself, and I’m kind of amazed that it’s here already–back in the day, I don’t remember school starting until September. But we’re going to celebrate by giving away a snazzy 500GB Seagate FreeAgent Go Special Edition portable USB hard drive to a lucky member of the Technologizer community. (No, you don’t need to be a student at the moment to win it.)

The drive is a $169.99 value, has a red aluminum case (as shown at left), and comes with a docking station, and is provided courtesy of Seagate. I certainly would have found it useful in college, when I stored my data on 72KB floppy disks, although I seem to remember cranking out most of my papers on an electric typewriter–at least it had a built-in correction feature.

To enter, respond to this message in the comments and tell us about the gadgets you found (or find) most essential for high school or college–and/or the ones you wish you had but didn’t (or don’t). Please fill out the e-mail address field so we can contact you if you win the FreeAgent–it won’t be displayed publicly, and we won’t use it for anything other than conveying the happy news to you. (If you’re logged in as a WordPress.com user, you won’t have to enter your e-mail address–just make sure that the address associated with your WordPress account is current.)

We’ll close this contest at 5pm PT this Friday, August 21st 2009, choose a winner at random, and notify that person by the following Monday, August 24th. If you’re shy, you can also enter by dropping us a line with your e-mail address using this form.

Your favorite gadget for classwork could be something like one of these…


Or this…


Or this…

Olympus Voice Recorder

Or even this…

MacBook Pro

Or maybe it’s something weird and unexpected.

Good luck and have fun!


How’s Your Hard Drive Doing?

Steve Bass's TechBiteHard drives are about as dependable as a teenager promising to come home by midnight. The more you know about your drive–the brand-specific idiosyncrasies and the diagnostic sounds that drives produce–the better prepared you are for the inevitable crash.

* Hard Drive Inspector is a handy tool to monitor your drives for spin rate, seek time, and almost 20 other potential problem spots. The program also supplies specs–including drive model, firmware version, and serial number, all perfect when calling for warranty support.

The drive’s temperature is displayed in the system tray; if the drive gets too toasty (I have mine set for 120 degrees Fahrenheit), you can get an e-mail alert, or better, automatically put the computer in Standby mode. You can view a summary health report that’s enough for most of us; the S.M.A.R.T. report has the details. Hard Drive Inspector costs $30, but you can download a 15-day trial version to give you a feel for the tool; the trial is fully functional, though limited to one drive. Nonetheless, it’ll tell you everything you’ll need to know about your drive.

Note: At press time (an antiquated phrase if I ever heard one), the Hard Drive Inspector’s site is temporarily down. You can read about the product by looking at a Google cache.

* It’s not as comprehensive as Hard Drive Inspector, but if you’d prefer a freebie (of course you would!), download CrystalDiskInfo. The tool will show you the number of hours logged on your hard drive and give you its health status. If you see caution or bad, cancel all your appointments and replace the drive, like, immediately, even if you don’t hear any weird sounds from the drive.

* If you listen to your hard drive, all you should hear is a soothing, comforting hum. Yet drives often make weird sounds–thuds, screeches, knocking, or whining — and determining if a sound means trouble can be, well, troubling.

DataCent, a data-recovery company, has an extraordinarily helpful site that plays the actual sounds of flaky hard drives: stuck spindles, bad or unstable heads, bad bearings, and bad media, to name a few. You can listen to your specific drive brand, too. Even better, the data recovery company lists typical drive failures by manufacturer. Listen to a Seagate drive with bad heads making a clicking and knocking sound.

[This post is excerpted from Steve’s TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up–it’s delivered on Wednesdays to your inbox, and it’s free.]


Seagate’s New Drives, and the Resurgence of the Mac Peripheral Market

Hard-drive kingpin Seagate announced a refreshed lineup of FreeAgent external hard drives yesterday. The new models offer all the stuff you’d probably guess they would: more capacity at lower prices with a redone industrial design. The company also introduced what is, as far as I know, the first USB dock ever offered for hard drives–an optional holder for the FreeAgent Go portable drive line that sits on your desk and lets you plug in the drive without futzing with the cable. (It’s $29 and comes with a case for the drive.)

One of the most intriguing things about Seagate’s announcement is this: It’s expanded its FreeAgent offerings with drives designed specifically for Mac users. Smaller companies such as LaCie have catered to Macheads for years, but this is the first time that Seagate has done so. And the fact that a manufacturer as large as Seagate sees a business opportunity in the Mac market is yet another sign of the Mac’s resurgent good health. (It wasn’t all that long ago that big companies were fleeing the Mac, not catering to it.)

Of course, all of Seagate’s drives are Mac-compatible; I’ve used ’em with both PCs and Macs for years. So how did it make Mac-specific models?

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