While the WD My Passport line of portable drives is a couple of years old, their My Passport Studio models are new, and their specs and capacities were greatly improved recently. The My Passport Studio line is meant for Mac users and comes formatted in HFS+, although the drives can be used just as well with Windows machines if they are reformatted to NTFS or FAT32.
On 10/30/08, WD introduced Firewire 800 connections and new capacities (400GB and 500GB) for these wonderful little drives. The base capacity was upgraded to 320GB, and the 250GB size was phased out. These latest drives feature triple interfaces (USB 2.0/Firewire 400/Firewire 800), which is something one normally sees only on external desktop hard drives (the 3.5″ size).
Technology moves fast, doesn’t it? Just a few months ago, the My Passport Studio models featured USB 2.0 and Firewire 400 connections. The top capacity was 320GB. I myself have a 1st generation My Passport drive, a 160GB model with a USB 2.0 connection. I bought it in February of 2007, and it’s worked great ever since.
The more recent models from the My Passport line have something that my 1st gen My Passport drive doesn’t have: an external capacity gauge. I think it’s neat to see how much space is used up on the drive at a glance. These latest drives also have something I haven’t seen before: turbo drivers for faster data transfers. The drivers are available for Mac computers only. I haven’t used the drive yet, but when I get it, I’ll be sure to test out data transfers with and without the drivers, to see if there’s an improvement between the two modes. I hope the drivers are well-developed and won’t introduce any sort of OS stability issues. I’ll also test data transfers between USB, FW400 and FW800.
I’m really looking forward to getting a 500GB Studio drive, because of its unbelievable capacity. It is double the size of my MBP’s hard drive, which is 250GB. I’m going to be able to store lots of photos and videos on it when I’m traveling, and use it to back up important files from my MBP and my iMac. I also think the My Passport line of drives are some of the best-designed portable hard drives on the market.
I can’t find the 500GB model in any online stores yet. Newegg still lists the Firewire 400 models, albeit at reduced prices, and Amazon only has the 400GB model. B&H Photo also only lists sizes up to the 400GB model. I don’t think I need to worry, since it’s very likely that by the end of November or sooner, the 500GB model will be available in most stores.
Photos used courtesy of Western Digital Corporation.