Price: 143 . 186 . 237 . 20
Pros: Attractive. Fast. Choice of connections.
Cons: No Mac software.
Sleek is not a typical descriptor for a desktop hard drive. It is the first word, however, that comes to mind for Seagate’s FreeAgent Pro, one of four models in the company’s new FreeAgent line of external hard drives.
The units that range in size from 12GB to 750GB. We looked at a shipping version of the FreeAgent Pro, the biggest drive, and was left impressed by both its aesthetics and its operation.
The £186 500GB drive we tested has several noteworthy attributes. One is the FreeAgent Tools software, which comes on the drive itself. The software provides an easy-to-use front-end on Windows XP’s System Restore feature – plus it allows you to view drive information as well as to tap diagnostic utilities and drive settings.
Included too is Seagate’s AutoBackup application, which lets you schedule automated backups to multiple locations. This is great, unless you’re a Mac user where there’s no equivalent provided.
The FreeAgent Pro has a streamlined, upright design that is far narrower than standard-issue external desktop drive enclosures and includes a rectangular plastic base with an open space at the bottom to accommodate swappable interconnect modules.
The unit we tested was bundled with a module that lets you connect the drive via either USB 2.0 or eSATA; the module screws into the drive’s base easily. You can buy a version of the drive that ships with both this module and another one offering two FireWire ports for an extra £20.
When the drive is powered up, its top and front spine glow orange. In use, the base – but not the brushed-aluminum drive case – got warm over time. Seagate says this is by design: The unit is fanless (which helps keep its noise to a minimum), and it dissipates heat through vents at the bottom of the drive.
In our tests, the drive showed it to be a strong performer. It required just 80 seconds to copy 3.06GB of files and folders from our test system using an eSATA connection, besting by 10 seconds the next-fastest drive, Seagate’s eSATA External Hard Drive.
The FreeAgent Pro has a great software bundle, an unusual, eye-catching design, and strong performance – making it an attractive package.