Freecom’s XS drives are, if it isn’t an oxymoron, ostentatiously low key. Here, you’ll find neither access lights nor switches – indeed, but for a little tag at the side identifying the manufacturer, it’s a featureless slab. What makes the drive conspicuous is that it’s encased in sleek, fetish-grade rubber. It’s eminently strokable, and while it may not exactly blend in on the typical desktop, it certainly adds a note of character.
Unfortunately, in our tests the 1TB drive didn’t walk the walk. In all but one of our four exercises it was the slowest desktop drive. Its performance in the small-file write test was particularly dismal, coming in at less than half the speed of the fastest desktop drive, and failing to match even most portable drives.
Large-file read speeds were sub-par too, coming in nearly 8% below average for this class. On the upside, for writing large files it at least proved just above average.
The simplicity of the design helps keep the price down, and there isn’t a penny wasted on accessories or free software. That means the 1TB XS 3 comes in at just 21.4 cents/GB, making it one of the cheaper terabyte drives.
But if you’re into bells and whistles, the understated design of the Freecom Hard Drive XS 3 won’t appeal, and its laid-back performance does it no favours – after all, if speed isn’t important, you might as well buy the USB 2 version, which is cheaper. Thankfully, it’s still faster than that (more than three times as fast in the large-file read test), and remains an affordable option that certainly stands out from the crowd.