OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro 60GB

Josh Norem | November 2003
People might say our standards are a smidgen high, but we’re actually easy to please when it comes to portable hard drives. To warm our collective cockles, all a portable drive has to do is be blindingly fast while whisper quiet, and offer huge storage in a teeny-weeny physical footprint. We’d also like it to connect to both FireWire and USB, and be able to fit into our pants pocket. A sassy design can’t hurt either.

OK, fine, maybe we do want it all, but the OWC Mercury actually has it all. By “all” we mean a 60GB storage capacity, four- and six-pin FireWire ports, USB 2.0 and 1.1 compatibility, and an 8MB cache. The OWC Mercury is bus-powered for USB and six-pin FireWire, but includes an AC adapter for the four-pin FireWire port. The real big news, however, is that this is the first pocket drive we’ve tested with a 7200rpm spindle speed. Naturally, it completely decimated the benchmark scores of 4200rpm external drives we’ve tested.

The physical drive inside the chassis is a Hitachi Travelstar ATA66 unit with an Oxford911 FireWire bridge and an In-Systems USB bridge. During testing, the drive trounced other FireWire pocket drives by more than 350 percent in write tests and almost 300 percent in read tests. It also outpaced the fastest USB drive we’ve tested (the Pocketec 20GB Pockey) by more than 150 percent. Curiously, the drive’s performance was a smidge better using FireWire than USB 2.0. With USB 2.0, file transfer tests required an extra five to seven seconds to complete, on average.

Our only real complaint with the Mercury is that the included USB and FireWire cables are a little short at 15 inches. The length is great for notebooks but bunk for desktops. A cheap leather carrying case is thrown in, as is a USB 2.0 driver CD for Win9X users. There’s also a utility CD that only works on a Mac. Twas no biggie—we didn’t need drivers or utilities. We just plugged it in, and it worked like a champ.