Buffalo Technology's latest addition to its line of USB storage devices is the MiniStation TurboUSB HD-PS series. We tested the 500GB version (HD-PS500U2). This pocket-size drive (only slightly bigger than a KitKat) supports Windows and Mac OS X, as well as USB 2.0 and 1.1 standards.
The Buffalo MiniStation's wraparound USB cord fits into grooves on the drive enclosure's perimeter - a nice touch.
Buffalo says the drive is protected by its "Shock Resistant technology" that absorbs bumps, drops and shocks. Buffalo includes three software products with the Buffalo MiniStation drive. Buffalo's SecureLockWare adds password protection (at the drive or file/folder level), Disk Formatter lets you reformat your MiniStation and Memeo AutoBackup is a backup utility.
The software ships on a separate CD, not on the Buffalo MiniStation drive itself.
Windows XP SP2 reported 499,983,089,664 bytes (465GB) formatted on a Hitachi TravelStar 5400RPM 2.5in SATA notebook drive. (You'll want to use the Disk Formatter if you plan to use Memeo AutoBackup, because the Buffalo MiniStation comes formatted as a FAT32 drive - which allows the drive to work with Windows, Linux and the Mac, but carries a 4GB file-size limit. Our benchmarks were run using the FAT32 format.)
According to Buffalo, the "TurboUSB" in the Buffalo MiniStation's name is what gives the drive its "unmatched speed", including what it says are data transfers that are up to 30 percent faster than most USB drives. Although the company doesn't publish performance specifications on its website, our benchmark results were impressive.
We tested the drive with HD Tach 3.0 from Simpli Software. Using its rigorous Full Bench test (with variable block sizes across the entire drive), the benchmark registered 32.9 megabytes per second (MBps). burst speed, an average read speed of 31.7MBps, and CPU utilisation of just 10 percent.
Using the HD Tune benchmark test (the recently released Version 2.55), we saw an average transfer rate of 30.2MBps, 18.7ms average access time and a burst rate of 24.1MBps, using 19.2 percent of the CPU.
Copying a 1GB Mpeg video file from our hard drive to the MiniStation took 48 seconds.
The Buffalo MiniStation drive measures 127x20x84mm, weighs 0.23kg (including the USB cord), is virtually completely quiet, and generates very little heat or vibration.
One caution: because of the SATA-to-USB conversion employed, the drive worked fine when directly connected to our test machines (an HP laptop and a Dell desktop) but refused to be recognised when connected to one of the two USB 2.0 hubs we tried - one from Saitek, the other from Zonet).
The Buffalo MiniStation drive is backed by a two-year warranty with telephone support.
The MiniStation TurboUSB portable hard drive is also available in 120GB, 160GB, 250GB and 320GB capacities.