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Quick Test: Seagate's 1TB Portable FreeAgent Go

Illustration for article titled Quick Test: Seagates 1TB Portable FreeAgent Go

The season of the 1TB bus-powered USB drive is upon us. WD was first; now Seagate is shipping the FreeAgent Go, a chunky SOB—three platters worth of storage powered and connected by one skinny cable.

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The good news is that these things work well, despite the larger drive and lower power. They're not about performance—5400 rpm only—but when I tested moving a 1GB file to and from, I got it in under 30 seconds, just a hair slower than the same file moved to and from faster FireWire 800 drives. I didn't do any real benchmarking, but I am convinced that the USB is going to be the bottleneck, not the bigger drive (shown below with a 320GB USB-only and a 500GB FW800/USB combo). The FreeAgent was even designed to fit the USB dock and FreeAgent Theater+, though not subtly.

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That brings us to the bad news, which many of you already know: Despite being portable bus-powered 2.5" drives, the three-platter HDDs inside these casings are not capable of being ripped out and stuck into your laptop, at least, not without some hackery I am not qualified to endorse. So, in lieu of a full review, I offer this: It works, it's not noticeably sluggish given the added weight, and it feels really good to be able to carry a whole terabyte wherever I want. [Seagate]

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DISCUSSION

According to WD's site, their 1TB Passport SE is the same thickness as all their other drives. And from what I've read, the drive itself is 12.5mm and will fit into Macbook Pros, etc. So why is Seagate mucking around with this seemingly proprietary setup? And why would anyone want something so chunky when they can have a slimmer (and no doubt quieter) WD drive?