Building slots for memory cards into a hard drive makes a lot of sense. You can use the single FireWire or USB link to copy your images to iPhoto and make copies on your external hard drive, all at the same time.

In terms of size the Media Center is a bit of a beast, as it features a ramp on its top that houses the card reader. All types of card are accommodated, except for the Fuji/Olympus xD-Picture Card. If you own a newish FujiFilm or Olympus camera, then tough!

At the front of the drive is a slot for a USB thumb drive, and it's an easy way of backing up data or transferring it to your Mac. The width of the drive is just fine for placing on top of a Power Mac G5, or you can mount it vertically using the stand that Western Digital supplies in the box.

In addition to the two FireWire 400 ports there's also a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed port for use with later Macs or PCs. We still think it's best to stick with FireWire, but if you do have a newish Mac with USB 2.0, it's there if you want it.

Other features include an automatic backup button that invokes the supplied Retrospect Express software. Sounds handy, but do be aware that OS X and Retrospect have a stormy relationship, and each new update of OS X seems to bring new problems to the software. A second button invokes a backup wizard that helps you set up backup routing using the supplied software.

As far as looks go, the Media Center is a bit chunky and beginning to look rather dated. However, a more serious flaw for us was the extremely loose-fitting power socket that caused the drive to cut out on more than one occasion. It may have been a one-off, but do check before you buy.