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HWM+HardwareZone.com Tech Awards 2012: Editor's Choice - Part 2

Best 2.5-inch Portable External HDD

Best 2.5-inch Portable External HDD

With HD movie files (and even some image files - thank you 36-megapixel camera) now reaching extremely large file sizes, it can take hours to backup an entire hard drive's worth of content. While Solid State drives can get the job done speedier, if you need a huge storage space as well as decent speed, you'll need to look elsewhere. Fortunately, USB 3.0 drives are now readily available and affordable in 1TB size and larger. With transfer speeds ten times faster than USB 2. (up to 5Gbps theoretically), now is a great time to upgrade your external storage.

For this category, we looked at the best available external portable USB 3.0 HDDs with a capacity of 1TB. When we meant portable, it's referring to those featuring the smaller 2.5-inch internal hard disk drives. Here then are the contenders:-

Nominees:

  • Buffalo MiniStation Extreme
  • Imation Apollo Expert M250
  • Seagate FreeAgent Go Flex Ultra Portable
  • Toshiba Canvio 3.0 Plus
  • Western Digital My Passport Essential SE

And the Winner Is...

In our benchmark tests both the MiniStation Extreme and Canvio 3.0 Plus stood out, with each leading in performance in different tests. The MiniStation Extreme was the overwhelming winner when working with large file sizes, while the Canvio 3.0 Plus was the best with small file sizes and was also the best for both sequential and random access times.

Buffalo’s MiniStation Extreme is our overall winner for its consistently excellent scores, and clear performance lead when working with large file sizes (which is probably what you want a 1 TB portable hard drive for anyway). We also liked its rugged construction with shock protection features (although that does come with the trade-off of being slightly bigger and heavier than average), convenient built-in USB cable and bundled extension cable, and hidden multi-LED indicator. The only downside was its hefty price at S$239 at the point of reviewing it. But as with all good things, it commands a justifiable premium should all its characteristics meet your needs. If you don't foresee needing its durability and it's all-encompassing characteristics, the Toshiba Canvio would be our next best recommendation and it's more affordable.

Scoring Breakdown
Criteria/Model Buffalo MiniStation Extreme Imation Apollo Expert M250 Seagate FreeAgent Go Flex Ultra Portable Toshiba's Canvio 3.0 Plus Western Digital My Passport Essential SE
Design 8.5 7.5 7.0 7.5 8.0
Features 9.0 8.0 7.5 8.5 7.5
Performance 9.0 7.0 8.5 8.0 8.0
Value 7.0 8.0 6.5 7.5 8.0
Overall 8.5 7.5 7.0 8.0 8.0
Price S$239 S$149 S$229 S$189 S$170

For more details on how we selected our winners, check out the full reviews and articles listed at the References section at the end.