Western Digital (perhaps better known as WD these days) has broadened its product lineup significantly over the past few years, going from a manufacturer of desktop hard drives to marketing external hard drives and adding a line of notebook hard drives to the mix. Their product line is now further differentiated with the My Passport for Mac portable hard drive. This slim, sleek hard drive is visually attractive and ready to be hooked to your MacBook (or iMac, or Mac mini, or Mac Pro, for that matter.) Or, if you happened to really be in a pinch for Windows storage, you could certainly reformat the drive for Windows.
Portable Hard Drive Out of the Box
It couldn’t be easier to get running with the My Passport for Mac. Just plug it into a USB 2.0 port and you’re all set. There’s no power connection to deal with; the power consumption of the drive is miserly enough that the drive can be bus-powered. The portable hard drive is pre-formatted as journaled HFS Plus, so if your Mac runs Mac OS X 10.3 or higher there’s not a great amount of brain power that has to be expended other than deciding what files should be dragged onto the drive.
On a quick glance it doesn’t appear that there are any power or disk activity LEDs, but the drive actually does have one. It’s nestled next to the USB port, in the shape of the USB logo. The indicator LED is steady white when the drive is powered on but idle, and blinks off and back on when the drive is being accessed.
Under the hood, there’s just a single 2.5″ form factor hard drive. There’s no mirroring or striping going on here, no options that have to be set at all; the drive is extremely simple and straightforward.
We attached the drive to a PC running HD Tune (a utility that performs low-level speed tests of attached drives) and it reported pretty good performance for a USB hard drive. The average data transfer rate is 30.3MB/sec, maxing out at 30.9MB/sec with a minimum of 21.0MB/sec, but with a burst data transfer rate of only 23.7MB/sec. The access time was 16.9ms, and the CPU utilization was 7.9%. These speeds make it perfectly acceptable to use with compressed video formats such as DV, and HDV which have a data rate of 3.125 MB/sec, allowing you to run multiple streams of video from this little drive.
The drive is also quiet and doesn’t put out much heat. There are also no ventilation ports to speak of. You wouldn’t think of it by a casual glance, but the drive does have a definite top and bottom; the bottom has feet. It is designed to be used horizontally.
The My Passport for Mac also comes with a welcome three year warranty, and 30 days of tech support from the date of your first call. This of course won’t protect you from data loss, but its reassuring that the manufacturer has enough confidence in their product to offer such a generous guarantee.
With direct-attached drives, there’s really not a tremendous amount to discuss, as long as you can see a drive indicator and it’s possible to successfully retrieve everything that gets written to the drive over its lifespan. From what we see, the WD My Passport for Mac delivers on its design goals. It is also offered at a pretty attractive price point, particularly for an external drive. It’s definitely worth a look.
Drive Specs: 5400rpm, 8MB cache
Dimensions: 4.967″ L x 3.130″ W x .590″ H
Weight: 0.40 lb.
- Reasonable price
- As fast as can be expected from USB 2.0 interface
- Single-cable connection
- Only USB interface
There are few ways that are easier to add half a terabyte of storage to your Mac.
Charles Fulton is Videomaker‘s Technical Editor.
Western Digital Corporation
20511 Lake Forest Dr.
Lake Forest, CA 92630