Iomega EGo Helium Portable Hard Drive USB

Iomega's eGo Helium Portable Hard Drive USB is a Mac-formatted storage device that's available with a capacity of 320GB. It has a case that's stylistically like the iconic silver casing of the MacBook Air and is Mac-ready out of the box.

With the lack of FireWire in the new MacBook and MacBook Air (which never had FireWire in the first place), USB-only external drives have garnered new attention from Mac users. Most modern desktop and laptop computers can use the USB connection for data transfers, though you'll be at a distinct speed disadvantage compared to the faster connection speeds of FireWire and eSATA (which requires a expansion card).

The small, aluminum-cased eGo Helium drive is designed to look at home with the latest line of Apple laptops. In fact, if you can imagine the MacBook Air having a baby, this is what it would probably look like. If you're looking for aesthetic uniformity, this is your drive. The eGo Helium is plenty portable too; it's only slightly wider and deeper than an iPod and can easily fit into your pants' pocket.

Owners of older Mac laptops should be aware that the 5,400 rpm bus-powered eGo Helium may not work with your laptop. Like many other USB-only external drives, the drive didn't work with our 1.67GHz PowerBook; older Mac laptops have difficulty producing power sufficient for the eGo Helium. Some companies offer power booster cables or external power sources to ameliorate this problem, but we couldn't find any on the Iomega Web site that were compatible with this model. Iomega claims they are addressing the problem.

The eGo Helium finished our benchmarking timed tests with comparatively solid, if unimpressive results. The drive has times identical to Toshiba's USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive 400GB in our 1GB copy test at 53 seconds. The drive averages 1 minute, 19 seconds for the duplicate 1GB file test, which is slightly slower than the Toshiba drive. The eGo Helium's Low Memory Photoshop test results similarly falls in the middle of USB-only drives at 1 minute, 48 seconds.

Macworld's buying advice

Solid (albeit average) speed scores, a reasonable price, and a middling capacity make the eGo Helium an indistinct but satisfactory investment. If speed, capacity, or weight aren't pressing needs, users may like the eGo Helium for its aesthetic chic and its all around quality.

[Chris Holt is an assistant editor for Macworld.]

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