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LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive

USB has had a great run, living up to its promise as the plug-and-play Universal Serial Bus. But now we demand ever higher data rates, to meet the demands of devices including high-speed data storage, higher-resolution digital cameras, and high-definition video camcorders.

So welcome the new USB 3.0 specification, branded as "SuperSpeed USB," which offers another 10X performance boost from 480 Mbps for USB 2.0 up to 5 Gbps.

The magic with USB 3.0 comes from adding five new wires to the connector, for faster transfer, more efficient communications, and higher power (but also more efficient). Plus, the USB 3.0 redesign permits longer cable lengths, from a typical 2 meters for current USB 2.0 to 3 meters or more with proper shielding.

For a peek at the promise of USB 3.0, I was able to try out the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 portable hard drive. This is available with a 500 GB disk spinning at 7200 rpm for $135, and delivers up to 110 Mbps -- already some three times faster in practice than USB 2.0 even in this first generation.

The drive has a new SuperSpeed USB Micro-B connector, and comes with a cable to plug in to a standard USB connector, so it's compatible with USB 2.0 systems. You can upgrade your existing systems to SuperSpeed with a PCI Card adapter, such as the LaCie USB 3.0 ExpressCard/34 which adds two SuperSpeed USB ports for $60.

In my testing, even simple file copies in Windows Explorer were around two to three times faster than connecting via the built-in USB 2.0 ports on the same laptop -- for example copying 13 GB in 3 minutes compared to 10, or an effective rate around 60 Mbps. That's getting interesting!

See my full article for Videomaker magazine -- USB 3.0: Same Great Interface, Ten Times Faster

See my Portable Storage Gallery for details and comparisons on flash memory cards, USB drives, and hard disk storage.

Find the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Drive on Amazon.com

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This entry posted on October 17, 2010.

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