It's a great time to be a travelling photographer or video editor — portable hard drives are the fastest and most capacious they have ever been, and will only continue to get faster. Seagate's new Backup Plus FAST, just released in Australia, squeezes two thin laptop hard drives into a compact aluminium case, hooks them up with high-speed RAID 0, and runs the whole deal off the power of a single USB port.
The Backup Plus FAST ticks a lot of boxes that a PC power user might want. It has a huge amount of space available, with that 4TB metric capacity translating into around 3.6TB of usable storage space — that's around 72 full-sized Blu-ray movie discs worth of data. It's also incredibly fast, clocking above 220MB/sec in both its read and write speeds making it easily one of the fastest non-SSD portable hard drives available.
The Seagate drive uses RAID 0, bonding the two disks together in a striping arrangement — writing blocks of data in sequence to each of the two drives, doubling effective transfer rates. This gives a huge boost to speed and usability, but does have the downside of meaning that if one drive dies, the other is unusable and your data is lost. Seagate's entirely reasonable rationale for this is that since the Plus FAST is a backup drive rather than an archival drive, you should have a copy of your files stored elsewhere as well.
What is most impressive about this drive, though, is that Seagate has managed to run both drives off a single USB 3.0 voltage rail — both drives are 7mm-thick Samsung Spinpoint M9T units, which use around 2.3 Watt each at full speed, just coming in under the USB 5 Watt maximum. There's no need to carry around a bulky power pack or a two-port Y cable (although Seagate includes one just in case).
The Seagate Backup Plus FAST is supposedly out now, although Dick Smith says it won't be available for a couple of weeks. At $409 it's not cheap, but it's somewhat cheaper than Western Digital's $500 MyPassport Pro.
At the same time, Seagate has also released the Backup Plus Slim — the world's thinnest 2TB portable external drive, coming in at a $189 RRP. It's in stores now as well, as are the existing 500GB and 1TB for $99 and $119 respectively. [Seagate]