This My Book Pro is the bigger of two being issued by Western Digital (the 250GB version retails for £126). It's a high-end model at the top of the My Book range (running up from Essential through Premium to Pro), and delivers exceptional quality.
Storage-wise, 500GB will accommodate around 38 hours' of digital video, depending on the format - that's around 200 full-length DVDs or 60 hours for HD material. Impressive indeed. Around the back of the device are four ports - one USB 2.0, two FireWire 800s and a FireWire 400 - plus a power socket. Three 2m cables come in the box: a FireWire 800 (9-pin), a FireWire 400 (6-pin) and a USB 2.0 cable.
On the front of the hard drive are two illuminated concentric circles, centred on a large button: the inner one shows how much of the drive has been used, the outer one that the drive is powered up. The storage gauge fills up incrementally in a clockwise direction, but you'll need to install a Button Manager to get this working on a Mac.
When you first turn the My Book Pro on, you'll also notice that the first segment is already lit. This is because the drive comes with software and utilities already installed, which take up a little of the storage. The central button also acts as a Safe Shutdown for the drive. When pressed, it makes sure every file is written to disk before power is cut off. An excellent feature.
Bundled with the drive is Dantz Retrospect Express, which is a common choice among many hard drive manufacturers like LaCie. With this, you can back up your data to the drive whenever it's changed, or have it auto-back-up at preset intervals.
It's a quiet drive to run, too, despite a perceptible whirr. And while the glowing button is annoying, the Safe Shutdown feature is superb compared with having to eject the drive manually via the desktop.
Speed is respectable. We tested it using a PowerBook G4 and Power Mac G5. Using the FireWire 800 port on our Power Mac G5 we wrote a 1.13GB test folder to the drive in 32 seconds (it took 49.9 seconds on the PowerBook) and read it back in 32.1 seconds (67 on the PowerBook). Other ports, returned uniformly excellent results too.
It's a great drive and is therefore easy to recommend. It's fast, with that well placed safe shut down facility, plus it looks great and has enough ports, capacity and speed to satisfy most situations.