Western Digital has just given its My Passport series of portable hard drives a light refresh. The My Passport Ultra retains it form-factor and design, but now comes in four new colors. A more notable upgrade is that the drives are now available in 3TB versions. Also refreshed is the My Passport for Mac, which doesn’t come in new colors (it keeps the basic black as before), but has the 3TB option.
The USB 3.0 Ultra drives, available in Classic Black, Brilliant White, Wild Berry, and Noble Blue, come in 3TB, 2TB, and 1TB capacities. The My Passport Ultra, which is formatted for Windows (NTFS), also comes in a 500GB version (to use with a Mac, you can reformat them, and download the Mac software from WD’s website). Luke Ottrey, WD’s senior product marketing manager, tells us that it was feat in engineering, to squeeze a 3TB drive into a small body. Ottrey also points to the projection that users will take 3.3TB of photos by 2016, citing the need for more capacity.
Both the Ultra and Mac drives include 256-bit AES hardware encryption, to keep your files secured. You can set the drives to automatically unlock with known computers. While previous My Passport drives offered AES encryption (a more secured form than software-based encryption), WD tells us that they are going to promote this feature a lot more, moving forward. The My Passport Ultra also includes WD’s Backup software that is an easy, three-step process, similar in operation to Apple’s Time Machine (which lets you revisit backup points by date). My Passport for Mac users can just utilize Time Machine in OS X.
If you like a bit more personalization than the four colors offered, WD is introducing colored bumpers you can wrap around the Ultra drives. Available in Smoke, Slate, Grape, Sky, and Fuchsia, the $13 accessory, called WD Grip Pack, lets you create 20 different color combinations. What we like about the Grip Pack is that each comes with a matching 18-inch flat USB 3.0 cable. WD says the Grip bumpers also fit previous-generation Ultra drives. (Due to slight size differences, the Grips won’t fit the Mac version.)
An interesting note about the Wild Berry color option: WD hired a color consultant to help determine what colors to bring to market. After market research and surveys, it was determined that the “Marsala,” a purplish color, would be the color of 2015 for consumer electronics; Wild Berry is WD’s version of that hue. (Radiant Orchid was the color of 2014, according to WD.)
The Ultra and Mac drives are available now except the 3TB version, which arrives in June 2015. The 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 3TB drives will have an MSRP of $80, $100, $130, and $200, respectively.
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