The range of MyBook external hard drives is diverse to the point of confusion. The new MyBook Mac Edition joins the already-established Essential Edition, Home Edition, Office Edition, Mirror Edition, Passport Edition and Studio Edition. Phew!

In a nutshell, the new Mac Edition is pitched at the budget end of the external hard drive market. It's preformatted for Mac OS and switches on and off with your computer, but it lacks features such as a capacity gauge, automatic backup, FireWire connectivity, remote access and RAID, offered by various other My Book releases.

Silent speed

In our tests, the drive achieved some impressive speeds. Its sequential read speed was almost 29MB/s, with random reads topping 11MB/s. Its write speeds were almost 20MB/s for sequential and 16MB/s for random. This is a capable performance over a USB 2.0 connection. Based around a single 1TB drive, its enclosure is roomy and well ventilated, and it runs almost silently when in use.

The Mac Edition's familiar My Book design would look good sitting next to just about any computer. Although, because it's a sealed plastic unit with no user access, don't expect to remove or replace the drive without breaking the enclosure.

It's shock resistant, which should appeal to the clumsy, but we wouldn't recommend putting this particular feature through too rigorous a test. Like other releases in the My Book range, this one is about the same size as a large paperback (16.5x13.5x5.3cm), and if you have a few of them, they line up like a row of books; a veritable virtual library of data.

Although pitched at the value end of the hard drive market, Western Digital My Book Mac Edition 1TB exceeded our expectations. It's quiet, attractive, inexpensive and above all, fast. Just the thing if you're after a high-capacity hard drive and are happy with a USB-only model.