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Monday, September 1, 2008

Gadget Bag: Portable Hard Drives

External hard drives serve as entire image libraries in the palm of your hand

This Article Features Photo Zoom


Epson P-500
What fits in your jacket pocket and holds 75,000 digital images or more? The answer: a portable external hard drive. Built using the same high-quality storage components you’ll find inside most notebook or laptop computers, these external hard drives typically consist of a 2.5-inch drive mechanism, a controller card and a high-speed interface connection—all housed in a durable and transportable shell.

These plug-in drives are better than the larger, stationary desktop versions in many ways. They travel lightly from location to studio, or from work to home, and many are powered by a computer via the same USB connection that’s used for data transfer, so you don’t have to carry around an AC adapter. Some stand-alone models include rechargeable Li-Ion batteries for use without a PC, but all of them connect easily to your computer, allowing you to perform impromptu backups, transfer image files or share slideshows with clients. They’re readily available and highly reliable, and they’re priced low enough so you can own several large-capacity models without breaking the bank.



Iomega REV LaCie Rugged Hard Disk Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini

Portable Storage

Iomega stays true to its roots with the Iomega REV, a portable drive with a twist: It uses removable disks, similar to Zip disks, which can hold up to 120 GB of data each. Available with a USB 2.0 or external SATA interface, the Iomega REV provides photographers with an easy way to inexpensively expand their storage capacity as their needs increase. A five-pack of separate 120 GB disks costs $325, or about $65 each, so it’s affordable enough to toss a backup copy of 25,000 digital images into a safe-deposit box at the bank without first visiting the ATM for a cash advance. Estimated Street Price: $499 (USB 2.0 external REV); starts at less than $85 (a selection of conventional portable hard drives).

LaCie offers a complete lineup of external drives, including one model that just might be called the ultimate solution for photographers on the go. Aptly dubbed the Rugged Hard Disk, it features a protective aluminum shell, shock-resistant rubber sleeve construction and internal anti-shock rubber bumpers that allow it to survive any sort of abuse. According to LaCie, the Rugged Hard Disk can be dropped on a padded surface from a height of about 35 inches (when not operating, of course) without losing any data. It’s no slouch when it comes to performance either, and includes FireWire 800 and 400, and Hi-Speed USB 2.0 interfaces for extremely fast file transfer. And it’s orange—a color you can easily spot, even in a cluttered studio. Estimated Street Price: Under $200 (250 GB).

In terms of value per dollar, it’s hard to beat the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini as a complete portable storage solution. The 120 GB model includes high-tech extras like Maxtor SafetyDrill, which facilitates the complete recovery of your PC’s hard drive in case of a system crash, and Maxtor DrivePass, an embedded firmware feature that selectively limits data access when the hard drive is removed and attached to another computer. Other features include Maxtor’s famous OneTouch button for immediate backups and 256-bit software encryption. Estimated Street Price: $80 (120 GB).

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