USB 3.0 External Hard Drives are starting to pop up more and more now that Microsoft and others are standardising on the USB 3.0 Hard Drive interface. Here’s a really slick looking drive from Freecom (Mobile Mg) that comes in a magnesium case echoing the style of a MacBook. Not only does it have a USB 3.0 hard drive interface but it feels feather-weight in your hands.
Here’s an unboxing:
The magnesium casing gives the drive a pleasant feeling in your hand – smooth, sleek and pleasant aesthetic. Unfortunately, it scratches. I’ve had the drive for a month and already some of the exterior shine has worn away in a few places on the bottom of the unit.
The USB 3.0 hard drive interface is either a pain in the behind, or a boon – depending upon your computing equipment. For MacBook Air users like me, it’s a pain. It would have been much better as a Thunderbolt hard drive that also came with a USB interface for backwards compatibility. As it is, I cannot use the full 3.0 USB spec of the interface. Plus, I have to carry around an extra cable that is harder to find (USB 2.0 on one end and a USB 3.0 compatible connector on the other). Given that I already have a lot of different USB cables (mini, micro, A, B, etc)… I am unhappy about this. There are rumours, though, of Apple upgrading the MacBooks to include a USB 3.0 port. We’ll have to wait and see.
If you do have a USB 3.0 interface, which is likely to become the norm on Windows devices, then you’ll be excited to get the full speed that the drive will allow without it being throttled by 2.0.
Bear in mind, however, that the actual drive inside the casing is a Hitachi 5400 rpm drive – which is somewhat slow to begin with. This helps when it comes to power management but doesn’t offer the blistering speeds you might come to expect. Still, the USB 3.0 hard drive interface means that you might manage to get the 80MB/s transfer rates that you’d expect.
I’ve been a fan of Freecom when it comes to size. Check out our Portable Hard Drives – size comparison [VIDEO] and our posting: Hard Core Hard Drives – Best Portable External Hard Drives and Storage Solutions.
In terms of relative size, the Freecom XXS is still smaller than the Mg but the Mg is much more stylish. The Mg feels a bit longer than the XXS in your hand.
If you asked me which I preferred, it would be a tough call. I like the fact that the XXS is the smallest and has a rubber, non-slip casing. I’m often perching my hard drive on the edge of a seat tray, or train table, etc. Having it grip the surface has been very useful to me. It also comes in a 1TB model.
The Mg looks sleek, has a faster interface, is better protected than the XXS and actually feels lighter – although it isn’t. Perception-wise, it’s more stylish and a pleasure to handle. It does have four non-slip, rubber stubs (feet) on the bottom to give it some grip. It only goes up to 750GB at present. Although, there is a model that includes both a USB and Firewire interface.
If size (physical/storage) is your main concern, go with the XXS. If performance (and Firewire) matters most, go with the Mobile Mg.
If you can’t decide… get both. You’ll probably need the extra storage anyways!
Perhaps it’s time, now, for a Thunderbolt version??
If you’ve got a Mac Desktop computer and want to make use of your USB 3.0 hard drives, check out this product from Highpoint – RocketU Quad USB 3.0 for MacOS. That’s four USB 3.0 ports from one PCI-E slot.