With 2 terabytes of capacity, the Western Digital My Passport Studio ($299.99 list) is the most capacious portable hard drive that we've seen thus far. So it's unsurprising that, above everything else, its enormity has garnered most of the attention. This makes sense, because it's arguably the only external drive?portable or otherwise?that most users will need for a very, very long time. In terms of functionality and design, it's scarcely distinguishable from its predecessor, the Western Digital My Passport Studio (1TB) ($179.99 list, 4 stars), which is a good and bad thing.
Let's start with the good first. All the benefits of its previous iteration are here, so you get a compact, attractive drive that's formatted for your Mac. Moreover, it's an impressive feat of engineering to double the capacity of an already spacious portable drive without adding any noticeable heft to its physical dimensions. Aside from a larger capacity and, not coincidentally, a higher price tag, there's barely any daylight between the two drives. Which leads us to the bad side of the equation: Was there really no room for any additional connectivity options whatsoever? For reasons that escape me, WD chose not to include Thunderbolt this time around. Not only would that have really made the My Passport Studio truly future-proof, but a drive of this capacity would have undoubtedly been well-served by the inclusion of an additional speedy interface. This is a minor quibble, though, and it ultimately does little to detract from the fact that the My Passport Studio (2 TB) a great external drive that offers plenty of bang for your buck.
Design and Features
The My Passport Studio (2 TB) is smaller than one of those mass-market paperbacks you typically encounter at the grocery store checkout. It measures 1 by 3.3 by 5 inches (HWD), and its 24 mm thickness is a scant 2 mm thicker than its predecessor. This difference is hardly noticeable, though, so the My Passport (2 TB) looks and feels almost exactly like its 1 TB forebear. In other words, it's gorgeous. The matte-finished anodized aluminum chassis shares the MacBook's two-toned black and silver motif and is elegantly minimalist, save for a tasteful silver WD logo embossed on the black enclosure face. The My Passport Studio weighs .80 pounds, making it neither too light nor too heavy. At the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, it feels just right. Moreover, the drive's rounded edges make it tactilely pleasing to hold ? I couldn't stop myself from compulsively palming it every time it was in front of me.
In the rear of the drive you'll find one micro USB 2.0 port and two daisy-chainable FireWire 800 ports. Although FireWire 800 is plenty fast, it's somewhat disappointing that the drive's design precludes the use of a wider USB 3.0-compatible connector. This isn't necessarily a fatal flaw since there aren't any USB 3.0-equipped Macs as of now. More nagging, though, is the lack of Thunderbolt connectivity, especially since a drive of this capacity should be as future-proof as possible because, for most people, it's the last one they'll ever need to purchase. So if you consider maximum connectivity paramount, the Editors' Choice-winning Seagate GoFlex Turbo (750GB) ($169.99 list, 4.5 stars) is still your best bet - though it's nowhere near as capacious as the My Passport Studio, GoFlex compatibility allows it to support USB 3.0, FireWire, eSATA and Thunderbolt.
Despite its steep price tag, the My Passport Studio is actually an excellent value at 15 cents per GB. Both the Seagate GoFlex Ultra-portableDrive for Mac (1.5TB) ($219.99 list, 3.5 stars) and the Clickfree C6 Portable (1TB) ($150 street, 4 stars) have the same 15 cents per GB ratio, so the My Passport Studio's increased price tag is in direct proportion to its massive capacity. It also turns out to be a better value than both the Seagate GoFlex Turbo (750GB) ?(22 cents per GB) as well as the Iomega Helium Portable Hard Drive (1TB) ($199.99 list, 3 stars) (20 cents per GB).
Like its predecessor, this the My Passport Studio comes formatted for HFS+, the native Mac OS file system, so it can be used with Apple Time Machine right out of the box. There's no other backup software is preinstalled, though, so if you're using Mac OS X 10.4 or earlier, you must resort to manually backing up your data. Some preinstalled software is contained in a drive image file on the My Passport Studio, like the WD Security app for hardware encryption, as well as the WD Drive Utilities suite, which includes a drive diagnostics tool, a sleep timer, and a drive erase app. The two-year warranty that comes with the My Passport Studio is a step up from the standard one-year warranty for basic drives. While the Seagate GoFlex Turbo (750GB) also comes with a two-year warranty, the Iomega Helium Portable Hard Drive (1TB) ?takes the cake in this department, coming with a generous three-year warranty.
Compared to others in its class, the My Passport Studio (2TB) is an above-average performer when it comes to speed. Using USB 2.0, it slightly outpaced comparable portable drives, copying our 1.22 GB test folder in 40 seconds. The Clickfree Portable C6 was marginally slower at 41 seconds. And although the Iomega Helium was in the same ballpark with 42 seconds, it only sports a USB 2.0 interface so it's inherently not as future-proof than other drives with additional connectivity options. But the My Passport Studio (2TB) wasn't the fastest performer in the USB 2.0 arena: the similarly capacious Seagate GoFlex Ultra-portable for Mac (1.5 TB) outpaced it by 4 seconds, completing this test in a brisk 37 seconds. We couldn't run our usual PCMark05 HDD tests on the My Passport Studio (2TB) since it's Mac-formatted.
Using the FireWire 800 interface was like injecting the My Passport Studio (2 TB) with adrenaline. It transferred the test folder in a breezy 19 seconds, effectively doubling its USB 2.0 speed. While the My Passport Studio (2TB) edged past the Seagate GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive for Mac (1.5TB) (24 seconds) 5 seconds faster under FireWire 800, the latter is still a formidable contender in other respects: it can pair with optional USB 3.0 or powered eSATA connectors, so it's future-proofed and costs 80 dollars less. As compared to other external drives using USB 3.0, the My Passport Studio (2TB) admirably held its ground with FireWire 800. The Clickfree C6 Portable (1 TB) squeaked by, taking 17 seconds to transfer the test folder, while the Editors' Choice-winning Seagate GoFlex Turbo (750 GB) beat it by a nose's length with 18 seconds.
In the end, the Western Digital My Passport Studio (2 TB) doesn't shock or awe, nor does it aim to. It delivers exactly what it promises?a huge, relatively quick, Mac-formatted external drive that's decently future-proofed. While additional connectivity options would have been a great added touch, capacity and a reasonable dollar per GB ratio are really what matters most when choosing an external drive, and in these respects the My Passport Studio (2TB) delivers with panache.
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