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Iomega eGo Portable Mac Edition Review

by The Review CrewJune 6, 2010

The Iomega eGo Portable Mac Edition combines a rugged exterior with a triple interface design that gives users the option to connect through USB 2.0, FireWire 400, or FireWire 800. The drive is available in three glossy colors in three capacities up to 500GB ($150), but it remains a low-cost solution for storage expansion. Although there isn’t much going on in terms of cutting edge design, the Iomega eGo Portable Mac Edition deserves our Editors’ Choice recognition for its quick throughput speeds, a rugged design that can stand four-foot drops, and a worry-free three-year warranty.

Design and features
The exterior of the Mac Edition eGo Portable is almost the exact same shape and size as the Windows Version, but the triple interface connection adds a little bulk to the front. The device is still easy to throw into a jacket pocket or a carry-on bag, measuring 0.63 inch long by 3.5 inches wide by 5.63 inches tall. Iomega sells three different version of the device in ruby red (500GB), midnight blue (320GB), and alpine white (250GB) that are compatible with all versions of Mac and Windows operating systems. Since the drive is meant for Mac users, the drive comes formatted to Mac Extended (journaled), but the Mac Disk Utility makes it easy to format it back to HFS+ for cross-platform compatibility.

Don’t be fooled by the eye-catching glittery paint covering the body–the drive features Iomega’s rugged Drop Guard feature that protects the drive from up to a 52-inch drop. We like that all of drives in Iomega’s current lineup include this built-in protection, as external storage devices tend to get thrown around more often than other accessories.

The physical design of the drive sticks to the basic rectangular external hard-drive design that we’ve seen repeatedly. We can’t fault Iomega for adhering to the formula, but with other companies like Transcend and their StoreJet 25f pushing the design envelope, we hope Iomega will step it up with the next model. The majority of the case is smooth and rounded except for a cutout on the front edge that houses the USB 2.0, FireWire 400, and FireWire 800 ports. There’s also a tiny LCD that glows green while the drive is in use, but unfortunately, this is the first Iomega external hard drive we’ve tested that does away with their classic auxiliary input power port, so computers lacking a powered USB bus are out of luck. We’re also afraid for the exposed FireWire ports that are wide open to whatever dust and junk is floating around in your bag. Is it too much to ask for a rubber shoe?

In addition to physical protection, the eGo Portable also includes a suite of software titles that give it an edge on the competition, including EMC Retrospect Express Backup HD, Iomega’s QuikProtect file backup, and a lifetime 2GB per month subscription to MozyHome Online backup. The free software comes with the drive, but you get no CDs in the packaging. Instead, Iomega cleverly includes license codes for each program, which you then download from the Iomega Web site.

EMC Retrospect Express HD is a lighter version of EMC’s professional backup software and costs about $50, but it can still perform all the backup functions you need to protect your data, including incremental backups and setting dated restore points. The layout of the program is intuitive and easy to use, especially since there aren’t many options on the home screen. In the setup process, you can choose to backup using either simple file duplication or by compressing an entire data dump into one file. The second method is a little easier to organize, although you’ll need to reinstall the software onto the new host drive to restore the files. The deal also includes a free lifetime subscription to Mozy.com, a Web site that offers online backups and storage. You only get 2GB per month with the deal, but you can upgrade to unlimited storage for $4.95 per month if you want to take full advantage of the software.

Cost per gigabyte
Although the eGo Portable Mac Edition didn’t achieve the lowest cost per gigabyte out of the competition, it still trumped the older model Helium by an impressive 11 cents at $0.34 per gigabyte. None of the latest drives we’ve tested can get cheaper than the Fujitsu HandyDrive, but keep in mind that none of the other products in the comparison chart below include the additional FireWire ports the eGo Mac Edition has. Considering the vast throughput increases in the performance charts, the eGo is by far the best value out of the bunch and clinches our recommendation for both speed and cost per gigabyte.

Performance
The numbers speak for themselves, and while we’re not surprised that the eGo’s FireWire 400 scores are much faster than its USB 2.0 scores, we were a little taken back at the significant jump to FireWire 800. Read up on a very informative article on FireWire connections by CNET Labs Technician Dong Ngo to get a more detailed analysis, but we recorded a 15.09 megabyte per second difference between FireWire 400 and 800 on our Mac OS testbed. Dong maintains that FireWire 800 is faster than 400, but not by as large of a margin when transferring data on a Windows XP machine. The FireWire 400 benchmark is still 24.33MB per second faster than USB 2.0 on both operating systems, so you’ll see a drastic jump in transfer speed no matter what connection you use.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.

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