Storage

Iomega EGo Mac Edition 500GB

Well-detailed, shiny, and compact, Iomega's eGo line of portable hard drives injects some style into a sea of grey brick-shaped external drives. Known for its iconic sleek designs, Iomega updated the eGo hard-drive line with improved speeds and more versatile connectivity (we tested the new 500GB eGo).

The eGo is light, portable, and only slightly larger than an iPhone. The drive weighs less than 7 ounces and easily can fit into your pants pocket. While the unit is sleek, it still has its design quirks. The activity light is at the rear of the drive next to the ports; it's plenty bright so you'll know it's on, but it seems odd to not have it on the front.

The drive has USB 2.0, FireWire 400, and FireWire 800 connectivity and is bus powered. Iomega also includes a Y cable that draws power from two USB ports in case you have an older Mac that doesn't generate enough power through a single USB port. This Y cable makes the eGo more versatile than competing portable drives, many of which don't include such a cable.

The press materials for the eGo line highlight Iomega's Drop Guard feature that is designed to protect the drive from drops up to 51 inches. But we here at Macworld are a bit more thorough. I'm almost six feet tall and I dropped the eGo from eye level, and then kicked and tossed it around a few times to simulate accidental drops and angry tirades that my external drives sometimes encounter. The eGo experienced no slow down and my data remained intact. The eGo also comes with a three-year warranty.

The eGo performed admirably but not exceptionally in our speed tests. The eGo finished our copy test slightly behind OWC's Mercury Pro On-The-Go ( Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice ), but several seconds ahead of the flask-like 2008 model of Iomega's eGo ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ). The latest eGo model finished our copy test in 36 seconds when using its FireWire 800 connection, only a second off the Mercury Pro. The eGo had more difficulty with our duplication and Photoshop tests, finishing the tests typically 10 seconds behind the Mercury Pro when using its FireWire 800 and USB connections. Still, these test results are significant boosts from the older eGo model and bested another Iomega portable hard drive, the USB-only eGo Helium ( Macworld rated 3.5 out of 5 mice ) by at least 20 percent on several tests.

The comparatively slower times can in part be contributed to the eGo's 5,400-RPM mechanism with 8MB of cache. Though it runs quietly, the eGo isn't as zippy as faster portable units that use 7,200-RPM mechanisms (like the Mercury Pro, for example).

In addition to a new look and a speed upgrade, the eGo line gets an improved bundled of backup software, which starts with Iomega QuikProtect for Mac, a backup program for simple scheduled file-level backup. You also get EMC Retrospect, a backup program for data, applications, and settings; and MozyHome, an online backup service with 2GB of online capacity available to the user for free (while unlimited storage space will set you back $5 a month). The Iomega is Time Machine compatible.

The 500GB capacity is common for portable drives, but portable drives can't compete with the speed of desktop drives. At $150, the Iomega eGo has a price per gigabyte of  30 cents--fairly standard for a new portable drive. The 500GB eGo is available only in Ruby Red; a 320GB Midnight Blue ($110) model and a 250GB Alpine White ($100) model are also available.

Macworld's buying advice

The eGo has improved significantly over the older version of the eGo, offering faster speed and a better software bundle. While not the fastest portable drive on today's market, fans of Iomega will appreciate the rock-solid warranty and versatile backup options.

[Chris Holt is a Macworld assistant editor.]

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