The Freecom XS 3.0 hard disk, encased in sleek black rubber, looks as much like a fetish item as a computer peripheral. It’s certainly distinctive, not to mention strokeable; but its slab-like design divided opinion in the Labs. There’s no activity indicator, nor a power switch, and no accessories in the box. Nero’s BackItUp & Burn software is included on the drive, but that’s all you get.
In our performance tests, Freecom’s 1TB XS 3.0 achieved middling results. There’s no shame in sustained transfer rates of 105MB/sec in our large-file read and write tests, but Iomega’s Prestige drive and Buffalo’s DriveStation were faster.
Performance in the small-file tests was oddly inconsistent, with an excellent 86MB/sec read rate offset by a dreadful write speed of 21MB/sec. We were able to test a 1.5TB model, too: oddly, it performed slightly worse overall. Here, large-file read and write rates were only 99MB/sec, and small-file reads fell to 74MB/sec.
The Freecom XS 3.0 is moderately priced: the 1TB model works out at 11c per gigabyte, and the 2TB model is similarly pricey for the capacity. It’s understood that, to an extent, you’re paying for the unusual materials, but even $12 feels like a premium over the Verbatim, which offers effectively identical performance.