The Iomega Helium is a sleek, pocket-sized portable hard drive with a durable aluminum case. The Helium’s compact design and matte silver appearance is the perfect aesthetic complement to the Mac, but it boasts only a USB 2.0 interface.
The Helium comes formatted with HFS+ and works with Time Machine right out of the box. Also included with the drive is a Y-shaped USB cable to support connectivity with older Macs, whose USB ports may not draw enough power to spin the drive.
The drive also offers hardware encryption, but it is not active by default. To enable this extra security, you’ll have to download the Iomega Encryption Utility software and install it. The one drawback to this is that, in order to access your drive across multiple machines, you must install the utility on each individual computer that you plan on sharing the drive with.
When put through our standard hard drive tests, the Helium’s performance was mediocre, averaging a write time of 26.5 MBps, and a read time of 31.6 MBps in the AJA System Test. When writing a sizeable 10GB file, the drive averaged 27.1 MBps while its mean read speed was 33.9 MBps. Additionally, the Helium averaged 26.7 MBps when writing a 10GB folder, and 29.1 MBps to read that same folder. While these aren’t the slowest read/write times we’ve seen, they aren’t really impressive either.
The Helium comes in both 500GB and 1TB capacities, priced at $150 and $200, respectively. (We tested the 1TB version.) At these prices, you can find other hard drives that are more affordable and offer more connectors.
Macworld’s buying advice
All in all, the most exciting part about the Iomega Helium is it’s appearance. However, if aesthetics aren’t your main concern when purchasing a new drive, keep in mind that there are more versatile drives on the market for roughly the same price. The Western Digital My Passport Studio 1TB ( ), for example, sells for about $170, has both USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 connectivity, has security software, and produced similar test times.