Provides: Portable external hard drive space and Time Machine backup.
Minimum Requirements: Mac OS X v10.5.8 or higher (or
Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP (32-bit and 64-bit) OS), FireWire 800 or USB 2.0 port
Price: $179.99 1TB, $219.99 1.5TB
The Seagate GoFlex for Mac Ultra-portable Drive falls just shy of having an absolutely killer feature, one that would make it a must-buy for anyone seeking to increase their portable storage space.
The drive supports USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 out of the box. It does so via adapters you plug into the back of the drive for the interface of your choice. This system allows you to upgrade to USB 3.0 or powered eSATA by simply purchasing separate adapters when you’re ready for them, meaning your externally stored files or Time Machine backups aren’t rendered unretrievable with a computer upgrade.
Unfortunately, Apple’s new Thunderbolt technology is not supported. Considering Apple’s big push in that direction, some may shy away from buying a non-compatible hard drive at this point. That would be unfortunate, because the GoFlex for Ultra-Portable is otherwise a fantastic drive.
Even without Thunderbolt, the ability to determine your connection method with this many (purchasable) options is great. It’s especially handy if you want to swap the drive between a computer with FireWire 800 and one without.
Mac users will find there’s more than just hardware to like here, though. First, the GoFlex for Mac Ultra-portable comes pre-formatted for Mac use (HFS+), of course (PC users can simply reformat it to FAT32 or NTFS). It’s also fully compatible with Time Machine, which is great to have when you’re on the road with your MacBook. And considering the brushed silver coloring, it looks very much a part of your Apple system.
While we’re talking portability, I’ll point out that the weight of the 1TB model I tried out is 0.62 lbs., measuring 3.51″ wide, 4.71″ deep and 0.87″ high. Very easy to slip into a laptop case, suitcase or coat pocket when you’re on the road.
And that leaves us only with performance. The 5400 RPM spin speed makes for decent performance for a portable USB or Firewire powered drive. Running off the Firewire 800 cable, I found it did okay running Time Machine backups or transferring larger files, but the USB 2.0 was a bit too slow for my tastes. I wasn’t able to test the USB 3.0 functionality. The performance is fine for a portable, but if you won’t often need to be carrying your backups with you, a powered desktop hard drive is certainly the way to go for speed.
Again, though Seagate does more than enough to make this a worthwhile purchase for Mac users. The huge capacity and interchangeable connection methods for prolonged use make this a worthwhile addition to your mobile workstation. The fact that it’s pre-formatted for Mac users and supports Time Machine out of the box are just bonuses. The merely “good” performance is something you’ll just have to settle with in order take advantage of everything else the GoFlex for Mac Ultra-portable offers.