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Buffalo Ships Portable HDD with Thunderbolt, USB 3.0

On Tuesday, Buffalo Technology announced the availability of the MiniStation Thunderbolt / USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive. Now available through distributors, online resellers and Buffalo's website, the 500 GB version (HD-PA500TU3) costs $199.99 USD, and the 1 TB version (HD-PA1.0TU3) costs $229.99 USD.

The MiniStation Thunderbolt made its first appearance earlier this month at Computex, marked as the "world's first" dual-interface external drive featuring these two super-speedy connections. It's housed in a sleek aluminum body with a translucent frosted top. It also features an indirect disk access LED indicator mounted on the underside which illuminates its supporting surface.

"Creating, storing and moving digital content on the go has always been a challenging proposal for all types of users as either the interface was incompatible or too slow or the storage solution was physically too large," said Brian Verenkoff, director of marketing at Buffalo Technology. "Collaborating with Intel to deliver the world’s first dual-interface Thunderbolt and USB storage solution as well as the world’s first portable Thunderbolt hard drive reaffirms Buffalo’s pioneering spirit and engineering excellence."

As previously reported, the USB 3.0 interface will provide transfer speeds up to 5 Gbps whereas the Thunderbolt connection will support up to 10 Gbps transfer speeds. The bus-powered drive will be compatible with both the Windows and Mac platforms, it won't need a separate power connection, and it will be backwards compatible with USB 2.0 ports.

"The MiniStation Thunderbolt is a complete portable Thunderbolt storage solution that comes with a USB 3.0 cable and a Thunderbolt cable, normally sold separately on other Thunderbolt storage solutions," Buffalo said on Tuesday. "Simply plug it in to any available Thunderbolt or USB port on your Mac or PC and securely store files to take on the road."

THe drive's technical specs reveal it to measure 3.17(w) x 5.12(h) x 0.91(d) inches, and comes pre-formatted as HSF+. Consumers can reformat its capacity as FAT32 or NTFS for use with Windows. For more information about the dual-interface external drive, head here.

  • classzero
    500 GB version (HD-PA500TU3) costs $199.99 USD
    Ya . . . good luck with that!
    Reply
  • spookie
    Totally overpriced!!
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones
    Can you daisy-chain? If not then WHAT IS THE POINT OF ANOTHER connector (Thunderbolt) over USB3. Speed! Yeah i know that but then again USB was supposed to be a daisy chain-able connection with lots of devices connected to 'each other' but no oem added the damn port. Same here. History repeats itself and the cycle continues. "Ohh my thunderbolt HD is so muuuchhh better than USB3!" ZzzZzzzz
    Reply
  • jacobdrj
    damianrobertjonesCan you daisy-chain? If not then WHAT IS THE POINT OF ANOTHER connector (Thunderbolt) over USB3. Speed! Yeah i know that but then again USB was supposed to be a daisy chain-able connection with lots of devices connected to 'each other' but no oem added the damn port. Same here. History repeats itself and the cycle continues. "Ohh my thunderbolt HD is so muuuchhh better than USB3!" ZzzZzzzzNo. USB was never intended to be a daisy-chainable standard. FireWire was, and often did have both an input and output port. However, this often created confusion on novice computer users who didn't know the difference... Caused much frustration...
    Reply
  • puddleglum
    jacobdrjNo. USB was never intended to be a daisy-chainable standard. FireWire was, and often did have both an input and output port. However, this often created confusion on novice computer users who didn't know the difference... Caused much frustration...I think he was refering to external HDDs that were advertised to have built in USB hubs that never materialized.
    Reply
  • jacobdrj
    I never considered that. However, being that USB hubs were (and still are) notoriously flakey, and external hard drive enclosures are also notoriously flakey... Combining the 2 multiplies the risk of a flakey USB connection... Not sure it was a bad thing that it never happened... Or it is a bad thing companies never bothered to make reliable USB enclosures and hubs...
    Reply
  • walter87
    damianrobertjonesCan you daisy-chain? If not then WHAT IS THE POINT OF ANOTHER connector (Thunderbolt) over USB3. Speed! Yeah i know that but then again USB was supposed to be a daisy chain-able connection with lots of devices connected to 'each other' but no oem added the damn port. Same here. History repeats itself and the cycle continues. "Ohh my thunderbolt HD is so muuuchhh better than USB3!" ZzzZzzzzYou can daisychain thunderbolt. You can't daisychain USB.

    The whole point of having both connectors on the drive is for flexibility (not everyone has Thunderbolt and/or USB3), at the expense of it costing more. Surely the are better alternatives like modular connectors like the Seagate GoFlex line that helps reduce the overall cost of the drive with interchangeble IO.

    On another note:
    What I wonder is, why have a single drive with the thunderbolt. $200 for 500GB is not SSD, so I can't see you reaching anywhere close to thunderbolts 10GB/s. The real use for external drives with thunderbolt should be raid options like the Lacie little big disk. Multiple hard-drives in raid in thunderbolt enclosure plus daisychanging to monitors etc.

    Reply
  • walter87
    I meant to say that a 500GB or 1TB 3.5" SATA drive inside that enclosure is going to bottleneck at 6GB/s max cause of SATA3, so they really isnt any benefit for including thunderbolt at all. Its just driving up the cost to target a small percentage of 2011 Mac models that lack USB3 entirely.
    Reply
  • face-plants
    Walter87 is correct about being able to daisy chain thunderbolt but not USB. Some USB devices that do have extra USB ports need an additional USB hub built-in.

    While thunderbolt as an interface spec supports daisy-chaining, this HDD DOES NOT as you need two TB ports on every device in the chain except the last one. So if you have one TB port on your PC, you can't use this AND a thunderbolt monitor for instance. (Does anyone in the real world have this problem tho?)

    I'm personally disappointed in Intel with the way they handled what was originally called LightPeak. They stripped the optical part out of the physical layer and the controller hardware makes TB devices outrageously expensive even though they're on their 2nd or 3rd generation already depending on how you count them. Also, the lack of devices able to demonstrate any kind of speed advantage over USB 3.0 further shows how immature the TB spec is still.
    Reply
  • taxidriver1138
    I read somewhere that the 500GB model has a 7200 rpm drive and the 1TB model has a 5900 rpm drive. Will the transfer speeds on the 1TB be a lot slower than the 500GB? Will there be any other significant differences in performance between the two?
    Reply