I outgrew my FireLite 160 GB like a 10-year-old outgrows his jeans, and I needed a bigger portable hard drive to store my current Aperture library. I wrote about this adventure recently in the piece titled, Latest Stop on the Quest for Portable Storage.
This pursuit led me to the OWC Mercury On-The-Go FireWire 800/400 + USB 2.0 2.5 Portable Hard Drive. My big decision was between the 200 GB / 7200 RPM / 16 MB cache model for $349 or the 250 GB / 5400 RPM / 8 MB cache version for $299 US. (You can see an overview of all these models on this page.) Even though I would have loved the 7200 RPM model, I opted for the slower 5400 RPM version that had 50 GBs more storage.
I was concerned that a large, bus-powered portable drive would bog down my workflow at 5400 RPM. In other words, Aperture might run slowly. After processing a wedding in Aperture this weekend, I made the right decision going for the bigger drive. With over 300 Canon 5D Raw files from the shoot (added to an already big library of 160 GBs), everything ran just fine. I was able to sort, rate, and image edit the files without pain. (One of my tricks is to upload the images, then take a quick break while Aperture builds the previews. This makes the sorting and rating process go much faster.)
The OWC drive comes with 2 FireWire 800 ports, a FireWire 800 cable, FireWire 800 to 400 conversion cable, and a USB 2 port and cable. Even though it's bus-powered, the kit includes an AC adapter. I haven't used the adapter nor plan to unless necessary. The drive is packaged in an attractive clear case with a sizable heat sink exposed on one side. The heat sink did get rather warm while copying my 160 GB image library over to the OWC drive. But then again, that's its job.
The drive has performed well connected to my MacBook Pro's FW 800 and FW 400 ports. I used it for hours while working on the wedding shoot, and it kept up fine with my pace. The drive fits easily in my laptop bag, and boots up quickly when connected to the computer.
My only complaint? I hate the cheesy fake leather cases the OWC provides with their portable hard drives. It's a one-size-fits-all model that looks like a throw-back from the 1960s. This robust drive deserves a better home for travel.
Aside from the case, I recommend the OWC 250 GB portable drive for photographers who need lots of storage in a tough, compact package.