The 2.5-inch external hard drive is a simple creature; it’s necessary in a world of finite storage space, and although some manufacturers like Clickfree offer a extra features like preloaded backup software, we also recommend the $175 Transcend StoreJet 25F. This stylish device cuts out all the filler and leaves a lightweight, easy-to-use 500GB external hard drive that transfers data quickly and won’t leave a flaming hole in your wallet.

Design and features
Transcend’s StoreJet comes in 250GB, 320GB, and 500GB capacities with one uniform design for all three models. While some of you may prefer the bright colors and matte details on the Seagate FreeAgent Go series, business professionals and subtle fashionistas might prefer the executive black finish replete with a unique diamond pattern on the front faceplate, not to mention an overall shape reminiscent of Palm’s original Tungsten E2. A mini USB 2.0 port sits on top of the device and is the only exposed port–unfortunately, you get no FireWire option.

The StoreJet is built around a standard 2.5 inch SATA hard disk that spins at 5,400 rotations per minute with 8MB of cache. Like other external hard drives, the StoreJet is self-powered, meaning that the drive draws all of its power directly from the USB port on the host computer. Since you’re likely to throw a drive like this in your briefcase or day bag, Transcend made the chassis both compact (4.5 inches tall, 3.2 inches wide, and 0.6 inch thick) and light (0.36 pound).

Cost per gigabyte
The simple, bare-bones nature of the Transcend StoreJet 25F is reflected in its low cost per gigabyte. The results speak for themselves–the StoreJet is over 13 cents cheaper per gigabyte than all of its competitors. Unlike the Clickfree Backup Drive or the Lenovo ThinkPad that incorporate extra hardware and software features, the StoreJet manages to stay on the inexpensive side.

If the overall cost per gigabyte doesn’t have you reaching for your checkbook, the speed transfer test results certainly will. The StoreJet stays on top again, reading 27.52 megabytes per second and writing 24.3 megabytes per second. The Clickfree Portable Backup Drive comes in at a close second, reading 26.38 megabytes per second, but the gap is considerable, especially taking into consideration the lowest scoring drive is almost ten seconds megabytes per second slower in both read and write benchmarks.

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