iomega UltraMax 500GB

As storage prices continue to drop, now is a better time than ever to invest in an external hard drive. With a whole range of different options available on the market, the new iomega UltraMax drives feature the latest generation of connectivity for fast transfer speeds.

The slim anodized aluminium chassis is a far cry away from the plastic exteriors that you typically get and much closer to the design of the Mac Pro desktops. Using the supplied stand, the unit stands upright but can also be positioned horizontally. With the power on, there’s just the one LED light that flashes blue

As well as the 500GB unit that I reviewed, you can get the UltraMax in the larger 750GB and 1.5TB flavours, satisfying even those that are fanatical about downloading media or keeping an archived backup.

With a choice of three types of ports and four speeds, the performance you get out of the UltraMax depends entirely on the connection you use. USB, FireWire and eSATA are available on the UltraMax, with the latter being the newest and consequently the rarest of ports on desktop and portable system.

Right out of the box, the UltraMax comes pre-formatted in the HFS+ format, ready for OSX. If you intend on using this drive for a Windows machine, simply do a reformat to NTFS or FAT32 file systems and you’re ready to go.

In my 1.07GB FireWire 400 transfer test, the UltraMax was able to complete this task in 43.9 seconds. A fraction faster than when using USB, which completed in just under 49 seconds.

For the 1019 file transfer (totalling 4.47GB), this was completed in 2 minutes 58 seconds. This compares well to the 3 minutes and 30 seconds that it takes to complete this task when using USB 2.0. A healthy 30 second margin, which in reality is what you’ll be looking for if you’re doing backups of your system.

Unfortunately I don’t have any means to test FireWire 800 or eSATA, however one would hope that these connections deliver even better results with eSATA capable of a theoretical 3.0 Gbit/s.

If you are in the market for an external drive, consider your options carefully and decide whether you want to have the ability to hook up to the latest generation of transfer options (FireWire 800/eSATA).

This will largely determine whether you choose the iomega UltraMax (best price around £100) over a standard USB 2.0 drive. Looking at the options available on the market today, you will find few if any models that matches the flexibility of the UltraMax, however if you ditch the extra connectivity, then you can get more storage for your money with 750GB being a possibility but you sacrifice performance with USB 2.0.

2008-04-19 Onwah Tsang

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