With award-winning and rugged good looks, the not-too inventively named Freecom Hard Drive has a tough aluminium case that not only looks great, but also dissipates heat very readily. The net result is a whisper-quiet drive that requires neither a cooling fan nor air vents. This means that, as well as being quiet, unwanted ingestion of dust into the drive is kept to an absolute minimum.

There's plenty of capacity on offer in the 750GB edition that we tested here, but if you don't need quite that much then you can save yourself about half the asking price by going for the much cheaper 500GB version. Installation and set-up are completely painless, with straightforward plug-and-play simplicity and the fact that the disk is pre-formatted and ready to roll.

Soft options

While the drive performed faultlessly in our tests, straight out of the box, it's worth taking a few minutes to install the companion Freecom software suite. This gives you automatic backup of files with your choice of file extensions, options for drag-and-drop compression and encryption for files and folders, password protection and data synchronisation.

The only thing that's really missing from the drive is eSATA, because it only comes with USB compatibility. It's another sign of the price premium you're paying for a larger capacity 750GB drive that the Freecom eSATA compatible 500GB Pro version, also on test, actually costs about £30 less to buy.