Hard drives have become so generic and commoditised, manufacturers are always trying to draw attention to their products in new ways. WD's My Book desktop drives now get an ebook-like screen, while the portable My Passport Elite gets a dock.
As cool as the e-labels concept is—soon to be found on My Book Elite (USB only, up to 2TB for $US280) and My Book Studio (FW800 and USB, up to 2TB for $US300)—I don't know how profound a single 12-character label on the face of such a massive drive can be. Then again, maybe you're supposed to buy them in identical pairs. The label, which, like the E-Ink found on Amazon's Kindle, stays visible when there's no power going to it, could in that case save you from embarrassment, possibly even job loss/misdemeanor charges/etc. Below the label is a status indicator — how many GB are left, plus a rough visual estimate.
The My Passport Elite line gets a visual refresh that first appeared in the less feature-bestowed Passport Essential. Slimmer and more rounded at the edges, the Elite line gets a metallic red, blue or charcoal finish and a dock — top price is $US170 for a 640GB 2.5-inch USB 2.0 bus-powered drive. The dock thing makes sense in one particular situation: You have a laptop and a desktop that you regularly shuttle between. The Elites will show capacity status on an LED indicator, and will indicate encryption with a light-up key icon on the side, so you feel extra safe. Speaking of safe, all of the hard drives also come with 256-bit hardware encryption. [WD]