Iomega eGo Portable Hard Drive Review

by Jerry Jackson Reads (35,530)
  • Pros

    • "Drop Guard" protection
    • Easy to use (plug and play)
    • Solid performance ... for USB
  • Cons

    • "Power Grip" band isn't included
    • Glossy exterior is slippery

by Jerry Jackson

The eGo series of external hard drives from Iomega offers a variety of stylish storage solutions to keep your important files safe. The colorful casings, range of storage capacities, and variety of connection options mean that just about any notebook user can find their perfect hard drive. We took a closer look at the newest 500GB USB eGO Portable Hard Drive to find out just how much “perfection” you can buy for $135.

Sooner or later almost every computer user ends up buying an external hard drive. Whether you need more storage for all your digital photos, ran out of space on your laptop’s hard drive from buying songs on iTunes, or if you just need something to transfer your files when you switch computers, a USB hard drive is probably the simplest solution. Is Iomega’s latest version of the eGo Portable Hard Drive an improvement over previous models? Let’s take a look.

Build and Design
In terms of the basic external shape and dimensions the new Iomega eGo Portable Hard drive is thinner (0.625 inches versus 0.75 inches) and lighter (0.4 pounds versus 0.48 pounds) than the previous generation of Iomega eGo portable drives. The biggest difference is that the new eGO features a tapered edge on all sides making the external drive enclosure look thin and maybe even a little sexy for a standard 2.5″ notebook hard drive with a single USB port.

  • Dimensions (HxLxW): 0.625″x5.375″x3.51″
  • Weight: 0.4 lbs/0.18 kg
  • USB “Y” cable (USB-A and USB-A to mini-USB) length: 12″

The size and shape are impressive, and although the new eGo isn’t the smallest external hard drive I’ve seen, it certainly is one of the smallest. The aluminum enclosure comes in your choice of several colors: Ruby Red, Midnight Blue, Silver, or black in the USB 2.0 enclosure or Ruby Red, Midnight Blue or Alpine White in the USB 2.0/FireWire 400/FireWire 800 enclosure). All of the various colors should keep their shine for several years thanks to the glossy automotive-quality paint job used by Iomega.

My only negative comment about the design is that I dropped the eGo several times during the review period because the glossy finish on the drive is almost “slippery” after some oil from your skin is applied to the surface.


The Iomega eGo portable hard drives are available in three capacities at the time of this writing: 250GB ($84.99), 320GB ($94.99) and 500GB ($134.99). Iomega also offers a 500GB BlackBelt eGo model priced at $139.99. The “BlackBelt” edition includes a black Iomega Power Grip band … an X-shaped black rubber band that covers the exterior of the eGo portable hard drive to provide extra shock protection in case of a drop or other impact. The standard eGo drive is rated to survive a drop from 51 inches (4.25 feet) and the eGo BlackBelt is rated at 84 inches (7 feet) … more than twice the industry average.

Given how simple the “Power Grip” band is and how little it raises the cost of the drive, I’m a little disappointed that Iomega didn’t include the Power Grip band as a standard feature on all eGo Portable Hard Drives. Considering that the glossy exterior made it easy for me to accidentally drop the drive, added shock protection seems essential. That said, the Power Grip band is available separately on the Iomega website for $14.95 (on sale for $9.95 at the time of this writing).

 

The exterior of the drive is extremely Spartan with only the mini-USB port and an activity light located on one side of the drive. The blue LED activity light stays constantly lit when the drive is plugged in and idle, then it flashes on and off when the drive is active. There’s nothing wrong with a simple activity light, but it might have looked better if Iomega used color-coordinated LEDs for the various drives; blue LEDs for blue-colored drives, red LEDs for red drives, and then white LEDs for white, silver, or black drives.


Iomega includes a “Y” cable for connecting the eGo Portable Hard Drive to older notebooks or budget netbooks that might require two USB connections in order to power an external hard drive.

Bundled free of charge with the Iomega eGo drive is the “Iomega Protection Suite” … a software package including a free six-month subscription to McAfee VirusScan Plus, Iomega QuickProtect file-level backup software, EMC Retrospect Express HD for complete system backup, and a free 2GB account for the MozyHome online backup service.

Performance and Benchmarks
With the maximum capacity 500GB drive, that translates to more than 9,000 hours of music (1.1min/MB – 128Kbps MP3 files) or 750 hours of standard definition video (11MB/min – DVD-MPEG2 at 720×480 resolution). That might not be as impressive as multi-terabyte desktop hard drives, but that’s a lot of storage for a compact portable hard drive.

In terms of speed, the Iomega eGo delivers what you might expect in terms of performance for a USB 2.0 external hard drive. Sure, you can get faster data transfer speeds from external hard drives equipped with FireWire or eSATA, but many older computers or budget-priced laptops only have USB … which is why sales of USB hard drives far exceed sales numbers for other types of external hard drives.

The HDTune benchmark measures the overall performance of a drive both in terms of transfer speeds (read/write), “access time” (the amount of time spent searching for data on the disk) and CPU usage (how hard your computer has to work in order to use the drive). We also benchmarked the drive using ATTO to confirm the best read/write performance numbers from the eGo Portable Hard Drive. I’ve included benchmarks from a competitor’s portable external hard drive for comparison.


Iomega eGo connected via USB 2.0

Western Digital My Passport via USB 2.0

Iomega eGo connected via USB 2.0

Western Digital My Passport via USB 2.0

For those readers who aren’t interested in examining benchmark results, the bottom line is that the Iomega eGo Portable Hard Drive performs very well for a standard USB 2.0 hard drive. In fact, the 500GB Iomega eGo is slightly faster than the 500GB Western Digital My Passport external hard drive based on our laboratory tests. In real-life use it took roughly 20 seconds to transfer a 704MB video file from the eGo to a notebook. Going the opposite direction it took 23 seconds to transfer a 704MB video file from a notebook to the eGo.

Heat and Noise
The eGO Portable Hard Drive runs quiet and cool so notebook users shouldn’t have any problems traveling with this storage accessory. The drive gets “warm” after hours of serious use, but never gets hot. The average external temperature of the enclosure was 83 degrees Fahrenheit in an office with an ambient temperature of 74 degrees. In terms of noise when transferring files, the drive makes only the softest audible noise from the spinning hard drive platters. Of course, when the drive isn’t accessing any files it’s completely silent.

Conclusion
Iomega deserves credit for making a thinner, lighter, and more attractive version of their eGo Portable Hard Drive. That said, I would have been more impressed if Iomega included the Power Grip band on all the eGo drives to provide as much shock protection as possible. Since it’s easy to drop a compact portable hard drive (particularly one with a glossy paint job) I’m sure consumers would appreciate all the protection they can get.

That said, Iomega earns points for providing a “Y” cable as standard equipment. Although most notebooks can power an external hard drive with a single USB connection, old computers might need two and if that’s the case then Iomega has you covered.

At the end of the day it’s hard to complain too much about a solid little hard drive that does everything you need it to at a price you can afford. Despite the fact that there are many external hard drives on the market, the Iomega eGo Portable Hard Drive is worth your consideration if you just want a simple external hard drive at a reasonable price.

Pros:

  • “Drop Guard” feature and Iomega Protection Suite are nice extras
  • Easy to use (plug and play)
  • Solid performance … for a USB drive

Cons:

  • The “Power Grip” protection band should come standard
  • Glossy exterior prone to fingerprint smudges and slippage


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