There never seems to be enough space for all of our growing amounts of data today. Even with the newest large capacity hard drives sold today in new laptops, media such as music, high resolution pictures or movies always take up more space than originally anticipated. The Maxtor OneTouch III Mini Edition 100gb external hard drive offers a solution to desktop and laptops users alike to discreetly add additional data capacity while maintaining a light footprint on the user’s desk or in the user’s laptop carrying case. The device is ideal to be used as a separate backup solution to offset data from the primary drive. It is also a fast and easy method for quickly transferring files in between multiple computers at the office or at home.

There are a few things that should be considered when using an external USB hard drive of this portability class. Since the hard drive used in the Maxtor OneTouch III, Mini Edition is a 2.5″ 5400 RPM laptop drive, this eliminates the requirement of using a separate power adapter to power up the drive. The power is driven entirely by USB. Typical, bulkier external hard drives require an AC adapter that makes it difficult when moving the device around. Not having to lug around a power adapter can make the difference when space and weight is at a premium for the laptop road warrior.

Another consideration is the speed of the disk and its associated USB interface speed. Pretty much all external USB drives sold today will support USB 2.0 transfers speeds ideal for high throughput I/O transfers such as DVD burning.

So what is the trade off for the power requirement in using the smaller 2.5″ drive in the Maxtor OneTouch III? To compensate for not using an additional power adapter, Maxtor’s design uses a specialized USB cable that is capable of supplying the standard USB connection in addition to an additional USB connection used exclusively as a power source. The cable has two standard USB plugs that plug directly into the computer and one standard mini USB connection that plugs directly into the external hard drive.

From initial testing, most standard PC’s do not need the secondary auxiliary USB connection.

For Macs, the hard drive worked out of the box for our G4 iBook and Intel MacBook. A simple format using Disk Utilities would make the drive Mac OS formatted, however, this is unnecessary and will restrict the device accessible natively only by Macs. Keeping the FAT32 file system included on the drive ensures compatibility between Macs and PC’s. Unfortunately, for the newer Intel MacBook Pros and the G4 15″ PowerBooks, the USB Y-Cable is separated on two opposite sides and can not be simultaneously connected. One trick that worked was only plugging in one of the two USB connections into the MacBook or iBook and thus one USB connection is sufficient. However, on the bigger 15″ G4 PowerBook and Intel MacBook Pro, when only plugged into one USB port (due to physical layout on opposite sides), the hard drive would emit a high pitched frequency and would not be recognized by the system.

Thus, the Maxtor drive is incompatible with the 15″ laptop offerings from Apple. On both IBM ThinkPads and Dell Lattitudes, this drive worked perfectly in Windows XP.

The drive is compact and is very light for traveling purposes, but it only offers a conservative amount of protection of the outer shell in lieu of extra bulk. This works out relatively well as the drive looks stylish in its gray color with only one cable connected to its back. One feature was the Hard Disk activity LED indicator which would flash as the drive is being connected and accessed. The White LED is a little big and not very discreet, making it somewhat distracting as the user may shift his or her eyes seeing the white light. The case also lacks a significant amount rubber padding on the base. It would have been nice to see some sort of rubber padding to help absorb the shock of the hard drive while it is spinning on the desk.

Overall, the hard drive was easy to use and transferred files really quickly. Despite incompatibility with a particular branch of Apple Laptops, it largely worked out of the box.

The Maxtor OneTouch III Mini is light weight and easy to carry around making this ideal for clearing the immediate error message of lacking disk space.

About The Author

David Yue is a senior technology writer for Blast Magazine

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