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Review - OWC 100GB Mercury On-the-Go
The Mac Observer
December 26, 2006 9 a.m. EST
By Jeff Gamet
Original Article Link: http://www.macobserver.com/review/2006/12/26.1.shtml

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Fast, reliable hard drive space is a must for many on-the-go Mac users. Finding reliable external hard drives that meet those needs, however, can sometimes be a real chore. To that end, Other World Computing's Mercury On-the-Go portable hard drives do their best offer one solution that gives you the best of both worlds: Performance and portability.

Portable hard drives don't always travel with the same laptop, and OWC kept that in mind with the On-the-Go line up. These drives include two FireWire 800/400 ports and a USB 2.0 port so you can plug into any computer you need to. To help avoid bottlenecks, they ship with a SATA drive mechanism and 8MB cache.

The model I tested came with a 100GB 7200RPM drive, but the unit is also available in 80GB (7200 or 5400RPM), 120GB (5400RPM), 160GB (5400RPM) and 200GB (4200RPM) capacities. All of my benchmarking was conducted on my 1.67GHz PowerBook G4.

Don't worry about surprise add-on expenses with the On-the-Go drive. It ships with a FireWire 800 cable, FireWire 800 to FireWire 400 converter cable, a USB 2.0 cable, carrying case and power adapter. The power adapter is necessary only when using the USB interface. Since USB speeds are so much slower, hopefully you can get away with leaving the small power brick at home.

Portable drives are a perfectly fine option for data backup systems, so OWC includes EMC's Retrospect Express automated backup software. Intech's Hard Disk SpeedTools are also included so you can benchmark your drive's performance and defragment files.

To keep everything fair and standardized, I use ProSoft's Drive Genius to benchmark a drive's read and write speeds. When I benchmark portable drives, I expect to see a performance hit compared to comparable desktop models. But in this case, I saw performance levels that are acceptable for many pro-level users.

Speed in MB/s
  USB 2.0 FireWire 400 FireWire 800
Sustained Read 28.44 63.83 58.30
Sustained Write 29.30 62.44 58.20
Random Read 22.71 42.73 38.08
Random Write 24.56 48.52 38.38

I don't think I would use this drive as a day-in and day-out video production drive because it doesn't have a built-in fan, but it would certainly meet my needs for video and audio editing in the field.

The Bottom Line
OWC's Mercury On-the-Go is a great option for anyone that wants a portable high-speed drive that holds up to serious use. The versatile interface options mean you can use it with most any computer, just remember that you'll need to carry along the power adapter if you plan to use the USB interface.

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