Iomega Portable Hard Drives Hit USB 3.0

Do you own a computer with USB 3.0 ports? Probably not. You will, though -- and when you do, you'll want USB 3.0 devices so you can take advantage of the sizable speed boost.

USB 3.0-equipped peripherals, like USB 3.0 PCs, remain somewhat exotic. But here's some good news: Iomega is announcing that it's going to replace all its current USB 2.1 portable hard drives with USB 3.0 models. The transition starts with new versions of the company's 500GB and 1TB eGo drives, due in October. It says its other models will follow suit, starting in the first quarter of next year.

Iomega isn't announcing how much the USB 3.0 drives will cost, because it's not sure what the going rate for portable drives will be in October. But it is saying that you won't pay a premium for the USB 3.0 models over 2.0 versions. (It currently charges $114.99 for a 500GB eGo and $189.99 for a 1TB one.) The new versions will come with AES 256 hardware encryption standard, and are rated to survive a seven-foot drop-twice the industry average, Iomega says,

USB 3.0 drives work fine with USB 2.1 ports -- at 2.1 speeds -- so there's no reason not to buy a USB 3.0 drive, even if you can't take advantage of its speed just yet.

USB 3.0 portable drives aren't new, but they've been nichey products at a premium price; Iomega's move to replace 2.1 models with 3.0 ones at similar price points is a welcome development. If Iomega can afford to make USB 3.0 standard, it seems like a good bet that Seagate (which currently sells USB 2.1 drives that can be upgraded to 3.0) and Western Digital will do the same before too many months pass.

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