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Storage With Style: WD MyBook Pro Edition

Western Digital MyBook Pro Edition WDG1T5000

The MyBook sitting upright.

While we will be testing the Pro version of the MyBook, there are two other versions available. All three MyBooks have a large 500 GB capacity, pre-formatted with a FAT32 partition and can be used with both Windows and Mac PCs. All three share similar book-like styling. They are available in black or silver colors.

The basic model, called the MyBook Essential Edition, has only a USB 2.0 interface, which isn't all that quick, but it will work with pretty much any PC out there. The middle of the road model is called the Premium Edition. It has a Firewire 400 interface in addition to the USB option. It also sports a capacity gauge, and comes with WD backup software.

The MyBook Pro Edition, which we tested, is the most versatile MyBook out there, with three choices for connectivity: Firewire 800, Firewire 400 and USB 2.0. Firewire 800 is the fastest option of course. In addition to this, the Pro edition has a capacity gauge like the Premium version, but it also includes EMC Retrospect Express software for backups.

The unit includes cables for all three connection options, as well as an AC adapter. Thecables are six feet long, the length of which comes in handy.

The interface and power connectors on the back of the MyBook Pro

Firewire 800, 400 and USB 2.0 interface cables

Handling And Style

If you unplug the drive from its host PC, it will shut itself down. Conversely, once it is plugged into a PC - or the PC is turned on while it is connected - the MyBook will power up automatically. This feature doesn't sound all that fancy, but it does help to extend the lifetime of the drive. Many competing products are on all of the time, and remain powered up when the PC is shut down. Western Digital calls this feature "intelligent drive management," and we can't help but think it's a good idea.

While not revolutionary, the device's style is simple, and the unit does look cool on a desk. It's like a hardcover book, not too high and not too narrow, and it does not fall over easily. There is a rubber bar on the edges of the unit, so that the MyBook grips the surface of the table and doesn't slip or topple.

The front of the MyBook sports two illuminated blue rings; the outer ring indicates drive usage while the inner ring indicates how much disk space is used. The light in the outer ring appears to rotate when the drive is in use, while the inner ring is split into six segments. Each illuminated segment indicates 17% of the drive is full. It's not the most precise system, but it does the job and it looks pretty cool.

The case is surrounded by many little air vents in a seemingly random pattern, and rumor has it that Western Digital put some kind of message in there in Morse code. If I had the time and inclination I'd have translated it, but that would have spoiled the fun wouldn't it? These air vents do serve a purpose in addition to the secret message; they allow the MyBook to be passively cooled without a noisy fan. The maximum case temperature during our testing was 37°C/98°F, which is certainly acceptable for a hard disk.

  • About the 'intelligent drive management' I am not that sure. It may be better than drives, which do not power down at all, but it still annoying that you cannot switch off the drive completely. For example the Seagate drives behave the same way, but in addition you can switch them off, so they will stay off when you switch off and on your PC. The WD will power on every time you power on your PC, which I personnally do not like at all.