capsule review

FIREFLY

At a Glance
  • SmartDisk FIREFLY

Some people are willing to pay more money for smaller products when it comes to items such as phones and computers. SmartDisk is hoping to capture these consumers with its 5GB FireFly FireWire hard drive--which offers great styling and easy portability, though it's also slower and more expensive than larger drives and holds far less data.

The FireFly is built around the same 4,600-rpm, 1.8-inch Toshiba drive used in Apple's iPod, and it's as long and as wide as the iPod but roughly only half as thick. And since the drive is bus powered, you'll need just one cable to connect it to your Mac. It's plug-and-play compatible with OS X, and it comes with the extensions required for OS 8.6 and later. (SmartDisk provides its Tools program and Connectix's CopyAgent for OS 9 and earlier.) A padded carrying case and three-foot FireWire cable are also included.

With 5 gigabytes, there's room for a thousand MP3s or even a bootable system folder. But if you're hooked on digital video, you'll find that iMovie eats up space faster than contestants on Fox's Glutton Bowl eat sticks of butter. For the price of the FireFly, you can buy a 2.5-inch drive with four times the storage space; also available are full-size drives with eight times the storage space and faster mechanisms and circuitry. For example, the FireFly performed on a par with the LaCie 20GB PocketDrive (Reviews, January 2002), duplicating a 100MB file in 18 seconds and copying a 60MB folder (containing 1,000 files and subfolders) from the internal hard drive in 41 seconds. A full-height VST 40GB drive duplicated the file in 14 seconds and copied the folder in 29 seconds.

Macworld's Buying Advice

If you're willing to pay top dollar for cool gadgets, the FireFly will surely draw the desired oohs and aahs from your friends and coworkers. But those who don't mind a slightly larger form factor can get more storage space and faster performance for less money.

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Streamlined case design
    • Bus powered

    Cons

    • Expensive for speed and amount of storage. oscomp
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