G-Technology G-DRIVE Mini & Hitachi Touro Mobile Pro 750 GB Review

RHKCommander959 - 2011-10-21 14:17:15 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: November 7, 2011
Price: $99.99

Introduction:

Hard drive manufacturers have been producing external storage drives for a very long time. In general, the technology is similar to that of internal storage drives, with the exception of protective casing and external connections on the former. Generally, USB, eSATA, or 1394 IEEE FireWire have been used for connectivity. The quest has always been to have more space, faster speeds, and smaller form factors — convenience all around. While most older devices required a secondary means of power such as an external power supply, newer devices can now be completely powered by USB or FireWire connections.

Today, Hitachi has provided two of their recent 750 GB External Hard Disk Drives: the G-DRIVE Mini and the Touro Mobile Pro. The first is protected by an aluminum case with a heat sink. Supporting Mac computers out of the box, it is also compatible with Windows systems after a quick formatting. Connectivity utilizes FireWire 800/400 and USB 2.0. On the other hand, the second drive utilizes USB 3.0 and has relatively smaller dimensions. Uniquely, its style is reminiscent to that of the iPhone 4.

 

Closer Look:

We will first examine the G-DRIVE Mini – a drive with a capacity of 750 GB and operation at 7200 RPM. The front of the box lists these features and the supported connections – FireWire 800/400 and USB 2.0. It also displays a decent corner-shot image of the drive. The design of the package is clean and simple, with a blue and white color scheme. The back of the box displays the drive next to a laptop, alongside photos of its features and included carrying case. Specifications in both English and French can be found at the bottom, most notably presenting the drive’s out-of-the-box support for Mac systems. On top of that, it can be formatted for Windows usage too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information-wise, the first side also lists the package contents, system compatibility, and drive specifications. Flipping to the other side, we can find some suggested uses and an approximate estimate for the number of movies, MP3s, or photos per 100GB of storage – 50,000 2 MB photos, 25,000 4 MB MP3s, and 140,700 MB DivX movies. The barcode label is on this side as well. Lower down, there is a circle indicating its three year warranty and four squares indicating support for Mac and PC computers through FireWire and USB connections.

 

 

The top and bottom of the box both display the G-Technology logo and their saying: “Performance. Style. Reliability”. The top also indicates the drive as an award-winning high performance Hitachi 2.5" model in an all-aluminum enclosure.

 

 

Upon opening the box, we are greeted by a large G-Technology logo and a smaller Mac logo. While this drive is formatted for plug-and-play on the Mac operating system, there is also a link and instructions for installing the drive onto Windows via the included CD. Most importantly, the drive is completely protected by foam.

 

 

Underneath the foam, we find the drivers CD and additional information about formatting the drive for Windows. Further inside, there is a flap that hides the cables and carrying case.

 

 

The carrying case is of decent quality, using Velcro to stay shut. On the backside, it has an elastic band to secure its cables. Included is a FireWire 800 cable, a FireWire 800-to-400 adapter cable, and a USB 2.0 cable, so connectivity is not a problem!

 

 

The drive comes with a product CD and a reminder card for the user to reference the G-Technology website for information on formatting the drive for the Windows operating systems. Lastly, the drive is protected by a gray antistatic bag.

 

 

Time to open up the second drive!

Closer Look:

The second drive is the Touro Mobile Pro – also containing 750 GB of storage at a 7200 RPM speed. This package has a window on the front, which gives a sneak preview of the appearance of the drive. The box is mainly black, blue, and white, with images of clouds and a blurb on the bottom indicating the free 3 GB of cloud backup storage. The back explains how the drive can be used for backup duty – either through automatically copying files itself or the 3 GB of free online storage. There is also an option to pay $49/year for an account with 250 GB of cloud storage, supported by an app for iPhone and iPad access.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In regards to specifications, the first side of the box lists the box contents and system requirements in both English and French. As seen, the package contains the external drive, a USB 3.0 cable, and two guides. Loaded on the drive from factory is also the backup software suite. The other side displays a full-scale side shot of the drive, most notably illustrating the 14.5 mm thickness at the bottom. Both sides make mention of the 3 GB cloud storage.

 

 

The top flap has a plastic clip for hanging the product on a hook. The top also describes Hitachi’s definition of one gigabyte – while operating systems use binary (base 2) to calculate storage capacities, storage drives use base 10. Therefore, the former sees one gigabyte as 1,073,741,824 bytes and the latter sees it as 1,000,000,000 bytes. After formatting the 750 GB drive, only 698 GB of space will be available in the operating system. This drive comes with a 2-year warranty. Opening the box up, we see a decent amount of free space.

 

 

Everything is kept inside of a plastic container, with the accessories underneath the drive inside.

 

 

Time to get a good look at the drives themselves!

Closer Look:

G-DRIVE Mini:

The G-DRIVE Mini is perforated on the front and sides, while the rear is sealed due the I/O ports. The device has two FireWire 800 ports for high-speed connectivity and a USB 2.0 port for universal compatibility. With an included adapter cable, the drive also supports FireWire 400. Besides that, there is room for an optional power supply for systems that cannot power the drive through the USB port. On our test rig, the USB 2.0 ports easily powered the drive. An on/off switch is used in conjunction with the power supply. The outer case shell wraps around the top and sides to form feet on the bottom. There are six screws reinforcing these feet to the rest of the case, as well as four rubber tabs to give them traction and absorb minor operational vibrations. Also on the bottom, there is a heat sink for proper operational temperatures and extended life expectancy of the drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interestingly, the G-Technology website has a small article that highlights a G-DRIVE Mini that had been in an accident during shipping. Even after being run over by a bus and ascetically ruined, the important data on the drive was still accessible and the drive itself fully functional. The story can be read in further detail here: http://www.g-technology.com/userstories/mangled/

 

Touro Mobile Pro:

In one word, the Touro Mobile Pro is sleek – gloss black on the top and bottom, surrounded by a silver band. The design is reminiscent to the iPhone 4. The top of the drive has the Hitachi name painted on, while the bottom has two stickers – one for the serial number and the other for general information such as the 750 GB capacity, part number, and RoHS/FCC compliance. The drive has a USB 3.0 Micro-B port, as commonly seen in similar products on the market. The Touro Mobile Pro and G-DRIVE Mini are about the same width and length, but the former is about 7 mm thinner.

 

 

 

Software:

The disk included with the G-DRIVE Mini is very simple; it contains drivers for all G-Technology storage solutions. The Manuals/Drivers link sends users to a directory on the disk drive with folders for each product. Although the Product Brochure link is broken, there is a folder in the drive with a PDF introducing all of their products. Otherwise, the Technical Support, G-TECH Accessories, and Registration links all refer to the G-Technology website. On the Touro Mobile Pro, all software is pre-installed on the drive rather than including it on a driver disk. Simply, there is an installation folder for both Macs and Windows systems for a program called Hitachi Backup. Using this program allows the drive to automatically back up any system drive. It can also set up cloud storage using the free 3GB space or allow users to upgrade to the 250GB storage for $49/year.

 

 

Next are the specifications and features of both drives.

Specifications:

 

Model
G-DRIVE Mini
Touro Mobile Pro
Capacity
750 GB
750 GB
Interface
2x Firewire 800/400
1x USB 2.0
1x USB 3.0/2.0
Dimensions
125 x 81 x 22 mm
80 x 126 x 15 mm
Weight
517 g
155 g
Drive Type
Hitachi SATA
Hitachi SATA
Drive Speed
7200 RPM
7200 RPM
OS Support
Mac OS X 10.5
Windows XP, Vista, 7
Mac OS X 10.5
Windows XP, Vista, 7
Power
Data Cable or External adapter (not included)
USB Cable

 

Features:

 

G-DRIVE Mini

 

Touro Mobile Pro

All information courtesy of Hitachi @
http://www.g-technology.com/products/g-drive-mini.cfm
http://www.hitachigst.com/external-drives/external-mobile/products/touro-mobile-pro

Testing:

Testing these drives should be interesting, considering that the hard drives appear to be identical. With high capacity 7200RPM drives, speed is a key factor here. To test the drives, I will be running through several benchmarks with each available connectivity option. These two Hitachi drives will then be compared with two Seagate FreeAgent drives with their varying connectivity options. Each drive will have its own individual color on the performance graphs, with a unique shade of that color for each connection. This should help to easily distinguish the drives.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Drives used:

Benchmarks:

 

 

HD Tune:

HDTune allows you to test many things with hard drives beyond benchmarking. For the purposes of this review, however, I just used it to benchmark the Average Transfer Rate, Access Time, and Burst Rate.

 

 

SiSoft Sandra:

SiSoft Sandra allows you to run a variety of hardware benchmarks on your PC. For testing, I investigated the Physical Disk Drive Index and Access Time.

 

 

Real Time File Transfer:

Here, I took 10 MB, 100 MB, and 500 MB zipped files and transferred them from the internal to external drive and vice versa. At the beginning of the transfer, I started a stopwatch and stopped it at the end, recording the total time it took to complete. A result of one second was an instant transfer – no dialog box would be shown for the transfer in that case because it would complete before one could be displayed.

 

 

The extra bandwidth provided by USB 3.0 proved to bring performance benefits to the Touro Mobile Pro and FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra. The FireWire 400 connection was slightly superior to USB 2.0, though still limiting to the G-DRIVE. Unfortunately, the test rig did not support FireWire 800 – the G-DRIVE could have really shown off its potential in that case. In testing, the limits of USB 2.0 can be very clearly seen, especially with the Touro Mobile Pro.

Conclusion:

Both drives responded very well in testing, even with the bandwidth limitations of USB 2.0 and FireWire 400. Using USB 3.0, the Touro Mobile Pro operates as fast as most standard desktop disk drives, which is incredible for a 2.5" external hard drive powered only by USB. The G-DRIVE Mini is definitely a stout drive as well, and should be blazing fast on a FireWire 800 connection. After hearing the story of how a G-DRIVE Mini survived being ran over, I am confident that this is a very sturdy external drive. Both have a very small footprint and can fit easily in a pocket, backpack, purse, or laptop bag. The free 3 GB cloud storage space is a very nice inclusion to the Touro Mobile Pro. If you have any extremely important irreplaceable-if-lost data, then you can copy it both to the drive and cloud storage for triple-redundant protection! If 3 GB isn't enough, 250 GB storage is also offered for $49/year.

There aren't really any cons to mention, except that the Touro Mobile Pro casing can be extremely easy to scratch. It would also be exciting to see a G-DRIVE Mini with USB 3.0 support alongside its FireWire connections. There are SSD versions of the G-DRIVE, but the cost is much higher – about ten times the cost and a third the capacity. There are SSD versions in the Touro line as well, which would give minimal access times and a higher shock tolerance. Currently, the G-DRIVE Mini is rated to withstand 400Gs when operating and 1000Gs when off. There is little that could be improved with these wonderful drives!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: