Test Three: Features
Hitachi describes its LifeStudio 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, view your photos on social networking sites, access online content such as games, news, music and videos, and autosync with the removable USB key mounted on the front of the drive. It's probably not the best choice if you only want data storage, though. Check out everything it can do at www.lifestudio.com.
LaCie's Starck has a touch-sensitive section used to launch applications, open files, mount and unmount the drive and more. But the software used to configure it is very flaky when running Snow Leopard.
The Starck also gives 10GB of Wuala online storage for a year and a backup package. Iomega's eGo offers a good range of software, including a year's subscription to Trend Micro's Trend Smart Surfing and 2GB storage with MozyHome Online Backup.
Test Four: Value for money
Most of the drives put in a solid rather than spectacular performance when assessed for value for money. The Hitachi LifeStudio Desk Plus is an exception. Given its feature set, its online price of under £90 is a bargain, though once again, not every Mac user wants its unique abilities.
The eGo and Quattro drives are very good value for money given the range of connectivity options they offer, but the also-versatile G-DRIVE is a little expensive for a hard drive of 1TB capacity, despite its good looks and quality.
Considering its pedigree, you'd expect the LaCie Starck to cost more, but it's actually pretty reasonable for such a uniquely fashioned device. It would certainly have scored higher had its support software not proved so unreliable under Snow Leopard.
Buffalo's DriveStation is the cheapest drive on test here, but too many of its bundled features, such as encryption, are Windows-only. Its turbo driver is welcome, though.