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Review: Seagate 5.0-Gigabyte Pocket Drive

Ideal for the mobile user, Seagate's newest solution comes with a sweet price tag and a sleek look.

Whether you're an IT staffer who carries around a few select CDs that contain the images you maintain or a power home office/office user, Seagate has a viable solution for you in its 5.0 gigabyte USB hard drive. While not the only product on the market, nor the biggest or fastest, the Pocket Drive comes at an affordable price with the Seagate name behind it. And its cool looks don't hurt, either.

I received the Seagate Drive and immediately took it out for a spin. It really does fit in the palm of your hand. That's nothing new. What this device has over its competitors, however, is that the USB cable spools inside the body of the device, leaving less for you to carry around.

You don't buy this drive for speed--it runs at 3,600 RPMs, while most drives can handle 7,200 or 10,000 RPMs. That aside, as well as considering the slow speed and two-megabyte cache, I found the drive to perform pretty well. I wouldn't edit CAD drawings directly from this little disk, but I would copy them to it and use it to transport the files between machines.

In Short
  • Product: Seagate 5.0-Gigabyte Pocket Drive
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  • Pricing
    • $200 (includes one year warranty)

The drive comes with a driver and utility CD, but Windows XP auto-detected and installed the drive without the utilities disk. I then went ahead and installed the utilities to see what benefit they brought. Being able to make the drive read-only and to password-protect all access as well as to format and partition the drive are nice, though partitioning might be a little bit of overkill on a five-gigabyte drive.

Seagate supports the Pocket Drive on Windows 98SE and newer (Windows 98 requires drivers to be installed) and on Mac OS 9.2.2 or later. Of course, it's just another USB drive from an OS perspective, so it should work fine with Linux also--but we didn't test Linux interoperability.

The drive weighs almost nothing, and honestly does fit into your shirt pocket. For the "watch the blinking lights" geek in us all, Seagate has made the center into a flashing blue LED so that you know when the drive is being accessed. Because of the cache, you obviously don't want to pull out the USB cable while the light is flashing.

The USB cable for the device is built in and stored in a self-winding mechanism that lets you lock it down during transport. This cable is the cause of one of our few concerns with this drive: How much will being unwound and wound repeatedly impact this cable that cannot be replaced? Competitors like the 20-gigabyte Pocketec Datastor mini require an external cable that you have to carry around, but it's a standard mini-USB connector, so you can replace it if something goes wrong. Since the Pocket Drive has the cable built in, it is a potential weak link that could cost you all the data on the drive. Not that we had any indication during our testing that this might be the case--unwinding and rewinding the USB cable 5,000 times was not part of our test suite--but it is worthy of mention as a possible problem.

The drive comes with a one-year warranty and has an MSRP of $200, with an actual street price at the time of this writing of around $160 at most locations. Considering that 20-gigabyte drives from lesser known manufacturers cost $150 to $200, this may not be a bargain for you. But if you like Seagate and want the service of the Seagate name behind your USB drive, this little toy works as well as any other--and its tools are above the norm for this space.

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