Japanese firm Buffalo was one of the first to offer portable storage devices with USB 3.0 connectivity and they are at it again with the new MiniStation Thunderbolt. Previously reviewed in August, the MiniStation Thunderbolt combines both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt connectivity in a single portable package. This makes it versatile, even if the benefits of Thunderbolt connectivity in a portable hard drive like this is debatable. Performance aspects of the Thunderbolt interface against its USB 3.0 interface have been discussed previously using the 500GB edition. In short, there's not much of a difference and as such, we'll be concentrating on USB 3.0 performance only in this article.
Decked in all white, the drive is the chunkiest of the lot (relatively speaking), so be sure to set aside some space in your bag. Nonetheless, it still remains fairly portable. The extra thickness is quite likely attributed to house more electronics within the enclosure to support Thunderbolt connectivity. If you're looking towards a multi-interface drive integrated within a package as-is, this is the only one in the portable hard drive space. Handily, the drive comes with both USB and Thunderbolt cables and 3-year warranty as standard. No other backup utility or security tool is provided.
Marketed as a portable drive for Apple laptops, the G Mobile USB is a sleek looking drive with a Macbook Pro-matching aluminum enclosure. And since it’s targeted at Apple users, the drive comes formatted in HFS+ mode (Mac OS Extended), unlike most portable drives which are formatted in either NTFS or FAT32.
And because of the aluminum enclosure, it is one of the heavier drives, tipping the scales at slightly more than 250g. Despite the weight, if you were to look at outright volume, it’s actually the most compact drive here - not that much larger than an iPhone 5.
The G Mobile USB is packaged simply, offering only a single USB cable and nothing else.
Storage experts Imation has refreshed the old Apollo Expert M250 with their new Apollo Expert M300. Design-wise, the new drive looks remarkably similar to the old, sporting the same matte silver finished plastic rectangular case. It feels about the same in terms of volume and weight too. It even comes bundled with the same Arcsoft Total Media backup utility too. Underneath the plastic enclosure, the drive shares the same specs as its predecessor too - a 5400rpm hard disk with 8MB of cache.
What has changed, however, is that Imation is now offering a free cloud storage account with the drive. The free account entitles users to 4GB of free storage, while additional storage can be separately purchased. Also, we noticed that Imation is no longer bundling the useful protective leather case that came with the older M250 drive.