Nov 03, 2011 13:39:03 PDT
Newnan, Georgia, United States
WDBABM0010BBKEESN, WDBABM0010BBKE, BABM0010BBK, WDBABM0010BBK, 1227905000, 638520, WDBABM0010ABKEESN
My Passport Essential SE
BRAND NEW SHIPS SUPER FAST !!!
Western Digital My Passport Essential SE 1 TB USB 3.0/2.0 Ultra Portable External Hard Drive (Black)### PHYSICAL ###
One terabyte that fits in your jeans' pocket. I don't want to go all "when we were young we walked 10 miles to school, etc." on you, but my first hard drive was such that I would have needed 50'000 of 'em to match the capacity, occupying a solid cube 9 feet on each side and setting me back 30 million dollars. That's mind- blowing progress indeed, and while the original advances were made by firms like Seagate and IBM, those have mostly sold off/sourced out in the meantime, leaving Western Digital as the Bleeding Edge hard drive brand.
This device looks like a cigarette holder with a glossy finish. The edges are rounded, and the usb connector is the only opening in the case, so for my occasional transport I just carry the drive in my jacket as-is. It would have been super- neat to have a rubber flap over the usb and perhaps a more scratch- resistant matte finish, but there is no issue here, especially since WD offers inexpensive hardshell and neoprene cases.
### USB3 ###
Finally, ten times the speed of USB2! The USB consortium calls it Super Speed, to distinguish it (not) from the Hi-Speed of USB2 and the Full Speed of USB1. It's beyond me why they don't just name it "5Gbit USB", a moniker which would pit it favorably against eSATA, Ethernet, Firewire, etc... but at least there's a hilarious joke in there for Sci-Fi comedy fans (Google "They've gone into plaid" for the reference, first video link).
But not so fast, Dark Helmet. First, just because the interface is ten times speedier doesn't mean the drive is, and second, it's likely that even your 2010 PC needs an adapter in the form of a PCIx card. And if it does, the USB ports will be on the back of the computer, which may be a problem as the cable that comes in this package is only 16" long. If you need more, you'll have to purchase a Micro USB 3.0 cable, the connector on the drive end is different from USB2. Currently, these cables are rare (none on Amazon!) and expensive, so be careful not to misplace the one you got.
### SPEED ###
This external drive works with both USB2 and USB3, so the question is, is it worth the extra cost of the USB3 adapter, and what exactly is the speed gain one can expect? To figure that out, I've run two tests, one a simple hard drive test via HD Tune, and one a filecopy test.
- HD Tune: (see screenshots for details): with USB2, the interface is the limiting factor, with a transfer rate of 33 MB/sec over the entire range. With USB3, you get the pure drive performance and up to 87MB/sec can be achieved in the outer regions and still a decent 45 MB/sec in the inner regions (the outer regions of the spinning disk have higher velocity and more sectors, hence the higher rate).
- File copy: I copied a batch of 7000 files back and forth a couple times and measured read and write performance separately. Averaged over 5 runs, I found that the read performance gain of USB3 was 19% and the write performance gain was 25%. It needs to be noted that in this scenario there was a lot of overhead - the copy program (robocopy), the file seeks, the destination drive, etc.
So what to make of this? The raw read performance as measured by HD Tune is 2 to 3 times faster with usb3 - nice to see that WD's marketing blurb "up to 3 times faster" is actually true! However, this advantage quickly comes down as you use more complex operations such as copying small files. Given the choice again, I probably wouldn't bother with an USB3 PCI card and just wait for my next PC to have it onboard. If you mainly copy large files (such as movies), you may benefit more from USB3 than I do.
### SOFTWARE ###
The drive comes with some software on it (in lieu of an installation CD) which does two things: enable a hardware encryption and do backups. I've fiddled with it for a while but it left me unsatisfied. Under my (admittedly elderly) WinXP the GUI had rendering problems (holes in the windows!), it wasn't half as intuitive as other software, and at least once I activated the encryption but it didn't take. It also installs a virtual CD, what do I need that for!? The good news here is that WD seems to ship this software with all their external drives now, so it stands to reason/hope that they'll improve on it and you'll be able to download an upgrade.
Of course, if you happen to be a Mac or Win7 Ultimate user, you don't need the WD software at all, just use the built- in stuff.
### CONCLUSION ###
This is a fantastic little device: a full terabyte, compact and reasonably future- proof; although you might not want to bother with USB3 for now if you don't already have it. I'm deducting 1 star for the mediocre software, otherwise I'm very happy with this capable small data vault.