Reminiscent of a hip flask, Iomega’s eGo portable hard drive, with its solid metal construction, smooth finish, and sleek looks, slides handily into a purse or pocket so you can tote your important digital files wherever you go.
The drive gets its power from either the FireWire 400 or mini-USB ports. If your Mac’s USB port doesn’t provide enough power (the ports on a Mac laptop won’t, for example), Iomega includes a USB cable that can draw power from a second USB port. One quibble I have: Most external hard drives have their activity LED facing you where you can see it. The eGo inexplicably has this LED on the rear of the case, near the connectors.
The eGo comes formatted as a Windows FAT32 drive, which the Mac can read from and write to; but if you prefer using the Mac HFS file format, you’ll have to perform a quick reformat using Disk Utility. The included CD includes EMC’s Retrospect Express 6.1 backup software, but you’ll need to download an update from EMC to make Retrospect Express Leopard compatible.
Not surprisingly, the 5,400 rpm mechanism inside the eGo turned in slower performance numbers than those put up by the faster—and pricier—7,200 rpm portables we’ve benchmarked. Our file copy test was 33 percent slower than LaCie’s Rugged ( ) drive. And, in contrast with most hard drives, testing on our Mac Pro revealed that the eGo’s USB performance slightly outpaced its FireWire speed, though USB performance lagged FireWire by a wide margin when the drive was connected to a PowerPC-based Mac. Iomega says the differences in USB speed is illustrative of the fact that that certain Mac models have better integration with their I/O ports than other models.
We thought about testing the eGo’s DropGuard feature, extra padding inside the case meant to protect the drive from minor mishaps while it’s unplugged. But we couldn’t stand the idea of multiple blows to our eGo. However, the drive seemed to suffer no ill effects after a few drops to a carpeted floor. All bets are off, though, if you fumble the eGo while it’s running.
Macworld’s buying advice
While Iomega’s eGo is no speed demon, its sturdy construction, small size, and smart looks make it perfectly suited to mobile Mac users. The 250GB USB and FireWire model we tested comes in red or black; a 160GB version ($152) is offered in red or white, while the USB-only line of eGo drives (160GB and 320GB capacities, $133 to $209) come in a wider variety of colors.
[Jeffy Milstead is a former Macworld lab analyst and a writer living in San Francisco.]