While certainly more robust than most portable hard drives, the Iomega also has a stylish good looks that leaves most looking like ugly ducklings in comparison. Its weakest link however is its rather slow 5400-rpm drive.
There is no denying that hard drives are the kings of portable mass storage; however, portable hard drives are either stylish yet delicate or ugly totalitarian tank like devices that can take a pounding with seemingly nothing in between the two extremes. Iomega and their eGo Portable line is trying to change this and offer a portable drive which is not only durable but is also stylish. Add in a USB 3.0 interface and on paper these drives my just be perfect for most situations. Does the Iomega eGo 3.0 have what it takes to impress on both the speed and durability fronts? Let's find out.
While it does come in four different colour possibilities (ruby red, blackbelt, midnight blue, silver), the eGo 3.0 portable hard drive that I was sent was the "Midnight Blue" version. To me, it's a dark metallic blue with silver accents and calling it midnight anything is a tad pretentious. One thing which is not pretentious is the down right beefy dimensions of this unit. While not 3.5" portable hard drive large its 5.07" x 3.54" x .87" dimensions makes it a handful to say the least. A big reason for these extra large dimensions is the power grip band which comes pre-installed on the eGo Portable. This rubber like band can and does protect the drive from blunt force trauma. Iomega states this drive is good for a 7 foot drop and it is because of this band of protection that it can boast such impressive states. While I only tested it at 6 feet (as that's how tall I am) it took such abuse and laughed it off as if nothing had happened.
Size comparison between Iomega eGo USB 3.0, Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra Portable & a deck of cards.
As with most 2.5 portable hard drives the only ports gracing the exterior is a white activity LED and a standard micro-USB 3.0 port. Where it is bus powered you may need to use both USB port plugs on the attached cable if you plan on using it on older USB 2.0 systems but by the same token you need not worry about carrying around an external power brick either. To be honest, the only thing missing from the exterior of the Iomega eGo 3.0 was an on/off switch. This always annoys me when I don't see one as I personally consider it a major oversight. You may think otherwise.
One interesting thing worth noting about the Iomega eGo USB 3.0 portable hard drive is the fact that it is a passively cooled device. The reason it can get away with passive cooling is because much like the Seagate GoFlex Ultra Portable, the Iomega eGo relies on a relatively cool, but slow, 5400-rpm drive. In point of fact, the eGo Portable 500GB uses the exact same hard drive as the GoFlex Portable.
Iomega eGo USB 3.0 portable hard drive houses a Seagate 5400-rpm 2.5" drive.
As an aside, one of the most crucial components that make an Iomega eGo portable hard drive so special can not be seen as it resides inside the case. This crucial feature is none other than hardware based encryption/decryption. This is a major selling feature as software based encryption not only wastes CPU cycles it is more vulnerable than hardware based encryption. Needless to say, this easily puts the Iomega in a different category than the Seagate for example, even if the GoFlex Ultra Portable boasts the same hard drive and more customization options.
Unlike most portable hard drives, the software which accompanies the Iomega eGo is actually crucial to its first time use. Luckily, it not only comes preloaded on the drive but actually shows up as a separate "CD" drive. The reason for this is because if you DON'T use and properly enter the password in the software the actual hard drive wont be even seen. This is of course because the software unlocks the encryption and allows the data to be accessed. Luckily, if you DON'T want to take advantage of the software features you can leave the drive unlocked and from then on it will act just like a normal hard drive and show up as soon as you plug it in. Or at least that is the theory. From time to time it does mess up and need to be unlocked again via the software. As I said, its lucky the software comes preloaded as otherwise this would not be an annoyance but a down right BIG FREAKING DEAL.
While simple, the software does have a few other features such as allowing you to reset the drive to factory defaults (though it does erase all the data off it in the process), or change the password. You can also have the software load on start up of windows, lock (or unlock) the drive when you exit the software and other like minded features. All in all it is simple, effective and above all else EASY to use; or basically is everything it should be with no bloatware "value added" features tacked on to make it seem more important than it already is. Lets face it this software is important all by itself and I really can not overstate how refreshing it is to see a streamlined piece of free software.
Crystal DiskMark Benchmarks
As with the sequential read and write tests Crystal DiskMark does show a minor hit to the performance of this drive. With that being said, I truly doubt most will notice a couple megabytes per second difference in performance unless you are a power user transferring hundreds of Gigabytes a day from it. If you fall into the latter category you obviously are not going to be going with a 2.5" portable drive and most likely will be looking at a 3.5" based 3TB Seagate Desk type model anyways.
Real World Performance
In the real world, the difference is a little larger than I had expected based on the synthetics results. The difference is still not devastatingly huge or anything but you probably will from time to time notice a difference between this drive's performance and (for example) that of the Seagate GoFlex Portable, but the difference will be under most circumstances in the second and not minute range.
Simple to use encryption
Software is preloaded on the drive, no need of CD/DVD to install it
256-bit AES hardware-based encryption
3 year warranty
No active cooling
Sealed unit so hard drive replacement will be difficult
No power On/Off switch for drive
5400-rpm drive means less than blazing speeds
Overall, there is a lot to like with the Iomega eGo USB 3.0 as it is as good looking as it is durable. It also packs in quiet the selling feature with its hardware based encryption. With that being said it does suffer in the performance department because of its reliance on a slow Seagate 5400 hard drive. This really is short sighted of Iomega and I really wish they had opted for a 7200-rpm drive. If they had done so the performance issues would have been rendered moot as the extra horsepower of the high performance 7200rpm drive would have masked it completely. Heck, at this point I probably would have been raving about how this was the perfect "triple threat" with beauty, brains and performance.
As it stands, if you are looking for a 2.5" based portable hard drive solution that can take a lickin' and keep on tickin', then the Iomega may be a good choice. This assumes of course that you favor durability over shear performance. Sadly, if you don't care about encryption or amazingly above average durability then you are probably better off looking elsewhere. In the end only you can decide if the Iomega eGo portable is right you or not.