Outwardly the 2TB Freecom Hard Drive XS is a double of the 1TB version. It comes in the same smooth rubber sleeve and offers precisely the same number of switches, indicators and accessories, which is to say none.
The drive inside, however, is a rather more capable creature. The 1TB XS 3 struggled with our small-file write test, but the 2TB model romped home with a performance more than 20% above this month’s desktop average – faster than any rival this month, and more than twice the rate of its smaller brother.
Large-file write speeds were almost as impressive: the 2TB XS 3 was pipped to first place by the Buffalo DriveStation, but only by a tiny margin. Read performance was slightly below average, but all in all it’s a drive that won’t keep you hanging around for backups to complete, nor when it comes to reading back your data off the drive.
It’s better value than the smaller model, too. The up-front price is higher, but at only 15.7 cents/GB you get more for your money. Only the Iomega eGo desktop drive undercuts it.
Clearly, then, looks can be deceiving. This 2TB model is a far more persuasive proposition than its seemingly identical twin. If you’re into rubber it’s an excellent deal – and even if you’re not, the combination of price and performance might well be enough to mitigate the non-conformist design.
Indeed, all that stands between the 2TB Freecom and an award this month is the overall sparseness of the package. Simplicity can be a virtue, but next to the Seagate FreeAgent this inscrutable black box looks a little bare.