For Mac owners, deciding between USB and FireWire interfaces can be an agonizing decision. While USB has the advantage of near-universal compatibility, the rarer FireWire 800 standard offers better speed, and to make matters worse, FireWire 400 is slower but more common, making it a midpoint between the two. Any choice is a tradeoff. Unless you can get all of them. Iomega’s triple-interface eGo Mac Edition drives come with USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and FireWire 800 ports for compatibility with any computer you happen upon, plus a sleek design, DropGuard for surviving those inevitable falls to the floor, and bundled backup software.
Features and Design
Iomega hasn’t radically changed the Mac version of the eGo drive at all from its PC equivalent, but the design still fits in nicely with the existing Apple aesthetic. That means clean, beveled surfaces, slender silver accents, and of course, a white plastic version available. (You can also pick up Ruby Red and Midnight Blue to stand out a bit.) At 0.625 inches thick, this is one slender drive, but not quite as slim as SeaGate’s 0.49-inch FreeAgent Go or Western Digital’s 0.59-inch My Passport for Mac.
Iomega claims the eGo will survive drops from up to 51 inches, which safely covers most of the drops you might make from waist height or off a table top (you’re on your own if you take it rock climbing). Iomega sells a $10 rubber belt for the ordinary USB eGo that stretches that drop protection figure to seven feet, but because the FireWire interfaces on the Mac edition make it 5mm longer, the accessory belts won’t fit.
Though the ports in back have been deeply recessed to accommodate for the drives slanted sides, Iomega includes cables for all three interfaces right in the box, so cables that don’t fit won’t be an issue. Unfortunately, we did find the little cables, which only span about two feet, to be a little on the short side. Like many drives, the USB 2.0 cable has two plugs on the PC end to provide ample power, but there’s no auxiliary power port to do the same trick if you don’t have two free, powered, nearby USB jacks (as some netbooks don’t). A blue status LED on the back makes a nice touch to let you know immediately that your drive has been plugged in, but we could have done without the blinding brightness.
Iomega includes three software packages for backup with the eGo: Iomega QuickProtect for file-level backups with individual files and folders accessible, EMC Retrospect Express for backing up entire systems, and MozyHome for online backups (with 2GB includes for free). Rather than preinstalling them on the drive, Iomega includes a slim brochure with license codes so users can download them online for free. Some users view it as an inconvenience, but we preferred getting the uncluttered drive and downloading only the software we preferred to use.
Performance and Testing
Having three interfaces is all about performance, so we fired up Xbench to run the Iomega eGo through its paces. As expected, USB 2.0 worked well, FireWire 400 improved slightly, and FireWire 800 blew everything else out of the water.
18.34 MB/s Write
20.78 MB/s Read
31.90 MB/s Write
38.06 MB/s Read
57.39 MB/s Write
53.93 MB/s Read
To put those numbers in perspective, that’s like being able to write all 4.7GB of a DVD to the drive in 1 minute and 22 seconds using FireWire 800, or filling all 250GB of the drive in one hour and 13 minutes. Few other drives can measure up to that kind speed, and even fewer can offer USB in the same drive.
As for durability, we subjected the poor eGo to about the worst real-life test we could conjure up for it: a solid week of video editing duty at E3. It ran for hours on end in crowded press rooms, got tossed into backpacks and briefcases, and survived a flight back from LA in only a padded FedEx envelope. All with our precious raw video footage aboard. Even though it scored a nice ding in the plastic somewhere along the way, we encountered not so much as a hiccup when it was time to read the files.
Strain no more over which hard drive interface to get. Iomega’s eGo Mac Edition offers compatibility, speed and good looks bundled up in a tough little package. And when you consider that the closest triple-interface competitor – Western Digital’s My Passport Studio – runs $200 for the same 500GB capacity that Iomega has priced at $150, we can call the eGo a bargain, too.
- Lightning quick read and write speeds
- Attractive, Mac-friendly design
- Extensive software bundle
- Short cables
- Slighter thicker than competitors