Unfortunately, in our file copy tests the DriveStation achieved exactly the same scores regardless of whether the driver was installed or not. It wasn’t significantly faster than any other USB device on test, either, and lacked eSATA, which would have improved performance.
The DriveStation’s packaging emphasises the drive’s “unique heat sink chassis” and “superior air flow”. You can even attach an optional fan. But while hard disks certainly can overheat under very heavy use, it’s a rare occurrence with external units and we doubt cooling is a real problem for any of this month’s drives.
Aesthetically, the Buffalo divided opinion: its black and silver case looked and felt durable, but it was a weighty and conspicuous presence on our desktop. If you stand it on end (as the front labelling indicates you’re expected to do) it’s easy to knock over, but if you lie it down it takes up a square area of desk space slightly larger than a hardback book.
Still, we appreciated Buffalo’s use of separate LEDs for power and activity, which is nice and clear, and there’s a proper on/off power switch, plus, uniquely, a switch to make the drive optionally power down when there’s no computer attached. It’s all good stuff, and you don’t pay through the nose for it, either.
So long as you don’t demand eSATA there’s a lot to be said for the 500GB DriveStation’s no-nonsense functional approach.
A solid, workaday external hard disk but no eSATA