Introduction

The amount of storage thatís needed by even just the average computer user increases daily. Computers are being advertised more and more as ďmedia hubs,Ē giving you access to your music, pictures, and videos. But where can you store all of this? Many consumers wonít have enough space on their internal hard drives for all of this. And you can bet that they wonít want to open up their system case to add another hard drive. An external hard drive is absolutely perfect in this situation. Whatís better then the biggest single external hard drive on the market, the Maxtor OneTouch II 300GB drive? After testing it, I canít say that any hard drive Iíve used externally can really rival this drive. Lets look at it in-depth.

Whatís In the Box?

The retail box for the OneTouch II line of hard drives is quite nice; itís red and white colors stand out on a shelf of products. Inside, youíll find quite a bit. First off, of course, is the hard drive itself. Accompanied with it is a slew of cables. Youíll get a Firewire cable, a USB 2.0 cable, and a power cable. It was great to see both the Firewire and USB cables included; these things are not cheap! A CD is included to install the Retrospect Backup software and the OneTouch Utilities Software, and this CD works for both PC and Mac. Thereís also a stand to let the drive stand vertically.

Unfortunately, thereís not much documentation included. There is a manual to set it up, but itís not very in-depth. But overall, the package included with the OneTouch II is a great offering and a real treat.

Features

The OneTouch II comes in two sizes; 250GB and 300GB. For this review, we are looking at the larger 300GB model. Both drives have a large 16MB cache buffer; an amount that rivals even most desktop drives. Seek times are rated under 9 milliseconds, which is extremely fast, and the RPM is at a fast 7,200, so itís pretty much certain the drive will be a fast one. On top of that, thereís both USB and Firewire connections, a real plus, although FireWire 800 would have been nice to see.

The thing that lets this drive stand out from the rest is the ďOneTouchĒ button, which, when properly configured, letís you press the button on the front of the unit to automatically back up your data. This is a great convenience, and I can confidently say that it works well.

On top of that, this drive has some great security features for those worrying about their data getting out. DriveLock lets you add an encrypted password to the drive, not letting anyone who doesnít know the password see the contents. I wasnít able to get around it, without entering the password, on either my Mac or PC system, so it seems pretty secure.

Speaking of which, this drive is PC and Mac compatible. I have mine formatted as FAT32 so it can be used on both platforms simultaneously, but you can always format it as HTFS or NTFS if you desire.

Design

The Maxtor OneTouch II is the best looking external drive I have come into contact with, bar none. Most of the drive is a nice anodized aluminum, but the front is a nice dark blue, with a silver ďbarĒ going across, that looks much like the Apple G5 case. On this ďbarĒ is the OneTouch button, which has an LED right on it.

On the back of the unit, thereís an array of ports. The power port is, of course there, as well as a handy switch, something that was absent on the previous OneTouch model. Thereís two Firewire ports, so you can plug in the drive to your computer, and then plug something else in too, so you donít really lose a Firewire port on your system. I have three Firewire devices (iPod, iSight, and OneTouch), and only two ports, so this was nice to see. Thereís also a USB port, in case you donít have Firewire.

This is where I get to my first criticism about this drive. The front LED has got to be the most annoying thing Iíve ever come across. When the drive is on, itís constantly flashing, and even when it goes to ďsleepĒ it flashes, so unless you switch it off on the back with the switch, itíll flash. Itís quite distracting, and considering my system is in my bedroom, it can be really distracting at night, so I usually turn off the drive before I head to bed.

The drive is also surprisingly quiet. It never gets louder then my iMac G5, which is remarkably quiet, but it is audible. When itís connected to my PC, itís completely inaudible. Even when next to a silent system, itís not a distraction whatsoever.

The drive does get warm to the touch after activity, but nothing hot. There is a fan inside the casing, so it should never have a heat problem.

Performance

I was able to transfer a folder of MP3ís totaling 1.56GB to the drive via Firewire from my iMac G5 in a staggering one minute and 27 seconds. This is an incredibly fast speed. I believe that a folder of files is a much better representation of transfer speed then a single file, because most users will be backing up multiple small files not big files. However, in case you were curious, I did transfer a single 4GB file to the drive, and it took a meager two minutes and 59 seconds, which really is incredibly fast. USB 2.0 transfers for the same files took one minute and 49 seconds, and three minutes 24 seconds, respectively.

These tests clearly show that this drive is capable of some of the best speeds external hard drives have seen, without a doubt due to its large cache buffer, and fast RPM speeds. If you are looking for a drive that is speedy, this is by far one of the best offerings out there.

Software

I donít really want to go too in-depth on the software aspect of the OneTouch line, since this is a hardware based review, but I did use Dantz Retrospect for testing, and Iíd like to give my opinion on it.

The software is for both Mac and PC, but my opinion is that the software is superior on PC. The PC version seemed more polished, and a tad bit user-friendlier. I did have some problems getting the OneTouch feature on OS X working, and I wasnít able to after I formatted it to FAT32, since in order to work on OS X, it has to be in HTFS format, and use Firewire. Therefore, the button became unavailable on the Mac.

When working, however, the button brings you automatically to the software, and begins a backup that you designate during setup. There are plenty of backup features in the program, that I wonít go into, but the main purpose of the software in conjunction with the Maxtor hard drive is the OneTouch button, and the Retrospect software does its part quite well. I do wish, though, that the button could be used under OS X with file systems other then HTFS.

Conclusions

Maxtor has a winner in their hands. The Maxtor OneTouch II is the perfect solution for anyone looking for a large external hard drive. 300GB goes a long way for storage, and most people wonít be able to fill it up. Of course, thereís the people that need more then 300GB, in which case, youíll have to look elsewhere if you want just one enclosure; specifically, the Lacie line, which has drives up to a terabyte.

But, if the 300GB capacity is what you are looking for, the Maxtor OneTouch should be at the top of your shopping list. This drive excels at basically all it sets out to do, and does it virtually flawlessly.

SLRating: 9.5 / 10



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