updated 03:35 pm EST, Thu January 22, 2009
Thunder Pro A/V Drive
External hard disks are inexpensive enough that ideally, everyone would have one to backup their data. At the low-end it's possible to just cram a hard drive into an external enclosure, but if you prefer a more sophisticated solution, you'll probably be happier with a dedicated drive. One such device -- marketed towards audio and video professionals, but usable by anyone -- is EZQuest's Thunder Pro Drive.
The drive's anodized aluminum enclosure is stylish, and comes with a plastic stand that lets you mount the unit on its side as well as flat. It's rather small physically, measuring 6.75 x 4.75 x 2.0 inches, and it weighs only 2.7lbs., making it easy to tuck away near a computer. The aluminum makes it a perfect complement to modern Macs.
In an unexpected twist, the drive is not only pre-formatted to work with Mac OS X, but includes drivers to work with OS 9 as well. If you want to use the drive with a Windows system, you'll have to reformat it. For Mac users used to being treated as second-class citizens by manufacturers, the focus will be welcome.
Another Mac-only feature is the inclusion of a CD loaded with Mac disk utilities, claimed to be valued at $89.95. Some of the utilities include Device Tuner, for modifying the transfer attributes of FireWire devices; Disk Defrag, for cleaning up fragmentation; Drive PC to setup and partition drives; Integrity to test the stability of rewriteable storage; Media Scanner for detecting and mapping defective sectors, QuickBack for volume cloning and file/folder archiving, and QuickBench to measure disk performance.
Depending on the model you get, the drive ranges in size from 500GB to 1TB, though always with a speed of 7200rpm. Numerous connections are present, including one eSATA port, two FireWire 800 ports and one USB 2.0 port; a single FireWire 400 port is mounted on the front. Cables are bundled with the Pro, so you can literally start using the drive within seconds.
Unlike some external hard drives, which can whine and roar like a miniature jet on takeoff, the Pro is so quiet that you'll probably have to check its Start button to make sure it's still on.
Although EZQuest is marketing the drive to professionals, anyone will likely find a use for this small, stylish, quiet and lightweight device. With plenty of interface options and cables, plus a reasonable price ($185 for 500GB, $229 for 750GB and $305 for 1TB), the Thunder Pro is a well-designed unit, particularly suited to Macs.