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Portable Storage Carried to Excess


These three storage products are certainly different from mainstream products, but it is questionable as to whether or not the different approaches make sense.

The Buffalo device looks like a portable 1.8” hard drive with a USB interface cable wrapped around the drive. It is available in capacities of up to 100 GB, and it comes at a premium price due to its flash memory architecture. It is robust, but it does not deliver the performance you’d expect from a flash-based premium storage device, even if you install the TurboUSB drivers. The Microstation Portable Silicon Disk works well, and it is convenient, but it’s expensive, and not really superior to other portable storage solutions. Check prices before shopping—you can get a portable 320-500 GB hard drive for the same money.

Chaintech provides a flash SSD with SATA/300 and USB 2.0 interfaces, which in theory provides ideal connectivity. But the device faces the same challenges as Buffalo’s Microstation: portable hard drives provide much greater capacity at a lower cost with similar performance, making robustness and SATA performance the only real advantages. We included this drive in our most recent SSD roundup, so if you'd like to check out its SATA performance, be sure to give that story a read.

Finally, there is LaCie’s Little Big Disk Quadra, which provides excellent benchmark results and impressive build quality. The drive is fast, very power efficient and relatively light, thanks to its RAID 0 array layout and two 2.5” 500 GB hard drives. It can even be bus-powered if you use FireWire, while USB 2.0 or eSATA require using the power supply. However, there is no option to set the drive to safe RAID 1 mode, and its backup software is disappointing considering the device’s hefty $599.99 price.