WD crams 2TB into 2.5-inch USB drive


— 12:53 PM on March 20, 2012

Raise your hand if you have a portable hard drive. I thought so. There was a time when flash-based thumb drives were capacious enough to handle most folks' portable storage needs, but I'm seeing more and more of those USB sticks replaced by portable hard drives. Even mechanical drive makers seem to be shifting their focus from internal models to external products.

The latest external drive is Western Digital's next-generation My Passport, which features a USB 3.0 interface and capacities up to 2TB. Squeezing in two terabytes isn't all that impressive until you realize that the My Passport is based on a 2.5" hard drive. Until now, portable 2TB drives have relied on much larger 3.5" internals. Those larger drives typically require more power than can be delivered over a single USB port, as well.

To be fair, the 2TB My Passport is slightly larger than other members of the family. The drive measures 21 mm thick, compared to 19 mm for the 1TB and 750GB models, and only 15 mm for the 500GB variant. All four flavors share the same 111 x 82 mm (4.4" x 3.2") footprint, though.

WD makes no claims about the performance of the new drives, but it does say their redesigned case is more resistant to scratches and fingerprints. That case comes in a range of colors as long as you don't want the 2TB model, which seems to be limited to black. As one might expect, it's the most expensive of the bunch, with a suggested retail price of $250. The 500GB-1TB flavors will ring up between $130 and $200, according to WD.

Likely to make way for the new models, the old My Passport SE (which also features USB 3.0 connectivity) is deeply discounted at online retailers. Expect to pay only $90-130 for 500GB-1TB versions of the last-gen drive.

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