Iomega Ego Desktop Hard Drive 1TB
Iomega's popular eGo Desktop Hard Drive range comes in various fl avours. The silver model we're looking at here offers FireWire 400/800 and USB 2.0 connectivity and is Mac-formatted out of the box, but can easily be reconfigured for Windows.
Other variations of the drive include a jet black or midnight blue USB 2.0-only drive, or a charcoal enclosure offering USB 3.0 connectivity.
The eGo Desktop range boasts plastic enclosures, but they look as smart and attractive as any metal casing. They can be mounted vertically using the supplied stand, or horizontally.
You get two free software applications with the drive, though you have to download them – they're not on the hard drive itself or on a bundled CD.
Iomega QuikProtect lets you back up your data to an external or networked drive, according to a schedule or whenever a fi le changes. MozyHome Online backup service lets you back up your data to a cloud server. You get 2GB free with the drive, or you can sign up for MozyPro and buy more storage space for a monthly fee.
Buffalo DriveStation 1TB
This cost-effective drive from Buffalo is USB 2.0-only, but its transfer speeds can be enhanced using the bundled TurboUSB driver.
Windows users can enjoy full disk AES256-bit hardware encryption to keep your data safe and secure, encrypting all data as soon as it's written to the drive, and protecting it with a password.
SecureLockManager Easy remembers your credentials and makes logging-on a simple task when using Full Automatic Encryption, and there's a power saving mode that automatically switches off the drive when you shut down your PC.
Also included is Memeo AutoSync backup software and Google's Picasa software for photo and movie organising.
The DriveStation's shiny black plastic casing is fairly attractive, especially next to a glossy black tower system, but it picks up fingerprints faster than the CSI team. Thankfully, being a desktop drive, you won't have to pick it up often.
It's not the fastest of the drives on test here, but it's not the slowest either and its TurboUSB driver makes it a wise choice if you only plan to use USB 2.0 connectivity.
Hitachi LifeStudio 1TB Desk Plus
If you're looking for a big, dumb hard drive for data storage, look elsewhere. Hitachi's LifeStudio range, available in mobile and desktop form factors, is aptly described as 'the hard drive redefined'. It's far more than a bare storage device.
Its bundled management suite lets you find, organise and share digital content located on both your PC and your LifeStudio drive, view photos you've uploaded to social networking sites, access online content such as games, news, music and videos and auto-sync with the removable USB key mounted on the front of the drive.
This removable storage device uses a MicroSD card, which can easily be removed and replaced if you want to upgrade. It's all accessed through a gorgeous 3D browser too.
The LifeStudio Desk Plus isn't the fastest of drives, and it's USB 2.0 only, with no support for faster connectivity methods.
With its blue and black plastic finish it looks pretty good on your desktop, but the removable USB flash drive means you can't tuck it away out of sight and out of reach.
If you're only looking for a storage device, this isn't the drive for you, but if its lifestyle and management features appeal, it's excellent value for money.
LaCie D2 Quadra 1TB
This Neil Poulton-designed external hard drive is extremely versatile. It has four connectivity options (as suggested in the name); USB 2.0, twin FireWire 800 ports, a single FireWire 400 port and eSATA.
It can be vertically mounted using the supplied aluminium stand or used in a horizontal position, and up to four d2 Quadras can be installed together in a convenient desk rack (sold separately).
The D2 Quadra's casing is made from sturdy aluminium, and its ribbed surface provides a handy heat sink, which LaCie claims offers up to 60 per cent more surface area for heat dissipation compared to a more conventional, flat-sided external drive.
The drive light on the front of the unit also functions as a shortcut button. Using the supplied software (which is a little buggy – we hope a revision is in the pipeline), you can configure it to back up your data or launch a file or application of your choice.
Its speeds are very agreeable, it can be set to power down when you switch off your computer and there's bundled software too.
Freecom Hard Drive Quattro 1TB
This sturdy quadruple-interface drive is clearly built for function rather than aesthetics. While far from ugly, its uncompromising box-like form factor and no-frills design make no attempt to be decorative.
Build quality is superb, with a robust brushed aluminium casing and a rugged plastic facing. If you need a drive that can take the knocks, the Freecom Quattro is well worth considering. The Quattro's fanless design means it runs almost silently, making it ideal for desktop use, and it can be mounted horizontally, or vertically using the bundled rubber stands.
As well as the ubiquitous USB 2.0 port, the Quattro also boasts eSATA, twin FireWire 800 ports and even a FireWire 400 port, which is unusual. Most drives that offer FireWire 400/800 connectivity usually omit the FireWire 400 port, but instead bundle a cable that lets you connect a FW800 outlet to your system's FW400 port.
Although far from poor, the Freecom Quattro's transfer speeds were nothing special, putting in a mediocre performance under USB 2.0 and lagging behind some of the other FireWire-compatible drives when using FW800.