While the design is first rate, the performance is underwhelming
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We were the first in Australia to get our hands on the new WD Passport Essential. The main alteration from previous versions is the more compact design - which now comes in a range of shiny colours. It's a full 3cm shorter in length than the previous model (which we've included online for comparison) and everything seems more rounded and more sleek, from the piano-black surround to the lightly embossed WD logo.Apart from the cosmetic changes, new software offers more control over backup and synchronising files, and new security and 256-bit encruption are also built into the WD SmartWare backup software.While we didn't have a street price as we went to press, the $199 RRP should mean a final price around the $170 mark - comparable with other 500GB drives. The two year warranty is a nice addition, too, and you can purchase an additional dock.The drive is formatted as NTFS to handle its encryption capabilities, but in our testing the WD proved to be the slowest drive. It was speedy enough with writing 3000 small files and reading them back, managing 20 and 15 seconds respectively, but when it came to the larger files it was slower than expected. At 2min 40secs, the time taken to write our file to disk was nothing short of laborious, and it was the slowest drive at reading the file back, too. The Essential range also comes in a 640GB model, which is the largest portable drive we've seen. It wasn't available at the time of testing, but that extra capacity at a good price may be worth the slight performance hindrances.
This Review appeared in the November, 2009 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
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