Western Digital subsidiary WD recently unveiled two sleek, thin 500GB portable external hard drives for Mac and Windows PC users. The two new drives, and the My Passport Edge for Mac, both feature USB 3.0 connectivity for transfer rates of up to 5 Gigabits per second. The two drives are also slim, measuring 0.40 inches and 0.50 inches in depth, for the Mac and Windows versions, respectively. Both are also pretty light, weighing close to the 4.9-ounce iPhone 4S at 4.8 ounces for the Windows version and 5.76 ounces for the Mac one.
There are slight operational differences between the two drives. WD says the Mac version is compatible with Time Machine out of the box. But that's not saying much considering that Time Machine can use pretty much any external hard drive if it is formatted as HFS+.
Similarly, the Windows version is formatted in NTFS and comes with WD SmartWare software that offers continuous and automatic backup. But Windows 7 and the upcoming Windows 8 feature a built-in back-up tool that can back-up your files just as well.
The downside of both Apple's and Microsoft's backup solutions, however, is that they are largely OS dependent. Meaning if you decide to switch over from Windows 7 to, say, Ubuntu Linux, you will have a heck of a time trying to get your files out of Windows 7's Backup and Restore. So perhaps WD's backup program offers a more universal way to manage your files.
My Passport Edge sells for a suggested retail price of $110 and My Passport Edge for Mac will be priced at $120. Both drives come with a three-year warranty. For the premium price, Mac users get a better crafted design for their external HDD with an all-aluminum case that also serves as extra protection should the drive get bumped or dropped. Windows users who prefer the My Passport Edge for Mac can reformat the drive to be compatible with their PCs.
You can find Ian Paul on Twitter (@ianpaul).