Storage and Security On the Go: 6 External Hard Drives

Conclusion: Something For Everyone

It's basically impossible to make a clear-cut decision in favor of or against a particular drive; the concepts with which the manufacturers approached their individual products are too varied, so they suit different needs.

The drive from MicroSolutions features real-time 40 Bit encryption. User authentication via fingerprint scanner functioned smoothly, and the MicroSolutions drive employs software that can manage up to eight sets of prints. You're also dealing with a 3.5" drive that is correspondingly heavy - but then again, it can accommodate hard drives up to 400 GB.

The Portable External Hard Drive from Seagate is the dazzler of the bunch; we really liked its compact and stylish design. The device is based on Seagate's own Momentus drive, connects via USB 2.0, and is fast.

By rights, the Sony unit should be in another league altogether, because the MicroVault Pro only stores 2 GB. In exchange for the low capacity, however, you get a box with dimensions so compact that you could even hide it in a pack of cigarettes. The MicroVault is based on a 1" Microdrive hard drive, which unfortunately puts a pretty big dent in performance -in light of the low capacity, however, most users shouldn't be troubled by that fact.

Soyo also subscribes to the "small is beautiful" school, as its Cigar HD uses a 1.8" mini hard drive. The benchmark results were rather middling, but the device is super light and its 20 GB of capacity means it's still big enough for many apps, making it a good compromise. We think the plastic look is a bit reminiscent of an MP3 player, though.

That leaves WiebeTech and Ximeta. Ximeta stands out thanks to the NetDisk Mini's network interface, which enables it to be used as an NAS device. It also features a USB interface that delivers typical performance. WiebeTech's ComboGB is loaded with the most complete group of interfaces, as FireWire and USB 2.0 mean the device can be connected to practically anything. The inclusion of FireWire B lets this model's integrated hard drive really show its stuff. Thus, we are generally inclined to give the nod to WiebeTech solution versus other 2.5" devices - as long as you're prepared to fork over the extra cash.