Verbatim 2.5-inch 500GB External Hard Disk Drive Review

Verbatim is trying to catch up the next evolution in the storage market and has started to move away from its traditional bread and butter, removable media such as blank optical media, flash media and tapes.

The 40-year old company, which is part of Japanese conglomerate Mitsubichi Chemical Corporation Group, has now expanded its range to include the likes of solid state disks, networked multimedia hard drives, a range of computer peripherals and even consummables like paper, labels and toners.

They have sent us one of their latest products, the premium edition of its 2.5'' USB 2.0 Executive 500GB Portable Hard Drive range which differs from its other normal 500GB models, atlhough we have yet to find out how.

Actually, the drive - which carries a two year warranty - is an updated version of a previous silver-coloured Verbatim 500GB portable hard drive but with some significant differences which we will highlight later.

The model, which carries the product number 47581, came with a USB 2.0 cable, a quick start guide, Nero BACKITUP 4 Essentials back up software and a neoprene case.

Apart from black, it is also available in Sun Kissed Yellow, Eucalyptus Green, Hot Pink, Caribbean Blue and Volcanic Orange - ideal if you want to add some personality to an altogether bland computer peripheral.

The external hard disk drive looks positively small and weighs a mere 150g. Verbatim has been particularly careful about gettting the finish right to distinguish it from the rest of the portable hard disks out there and has fitted it with four tiny plastic feet and a rubber skin.

This will prevent the storage device from slipping or moving whilst in use. There are two main differences between the version we tested and the one released last year; this one get rids of one extra USB port due to a less power hungry drive.

Apart from being well build, we found out that the drive is also very easily opened; there's a Samsung hard disk drive inside with a small SATA to USB converter board. The 500GB hard disk spins at 5400rpm and packs 8MB buffer cache.

The Verbatim drive was already formatted (FAT32) and did contain a number of files and applications. We promptly moved out the files and formatted the hard drive to NTFS.

Apart from copies of the manual and quick guide, there's also Nero BackItUp 4 Essentials plus Verbatim Sync software which includes a USB Turbo Speed feature.

This intriguing functionality promises to increase the data transfer rate by a whopping 25 percent through some wizardry (actually, we think that it has something to do with file compression).

You will need to install the application first but from the brief encounter we had with the software, the Turbo USB option appeared to improve things by around 10 percent depending on what you are transferring.

Verbatim Sync also comes with the possibility to set up 128-bit AES encrypted folders (with password protection) to protect sensitive data which is good for keeping away information from prying eyes.

As for Nero BackItUp 4 Essentials, as its name implies, it allows users to regularly backup their most important files. We haven't tested it but you can have a look at the full version here.

Moving files to and from the hard disk drive did not cause the latter to heat up unlike some of its competitors. It did go warm but we suspect that the fact that the drive is encased in plastic rather than metal could be a factor why it feels cooler to the touch.

We tested the drive on three separate operating systems (Vista, XP and Windows 7) and the device performed flawlessly.

There are only three real reasons why prospective customers might look elsewhere for the Verbatim 2.5'' Portable 500GB USB Hard Drive.

The drive doesn't come with a second USB port which might be an issue if your machine's USB ports cannot provide with enough juice; that is the case for Apple iBook users.

Furthermore, the drive is not as widely available as the rest of the competition. We could only find the storage device online in two little known shops and one big e-tailer (Misco).

This brings us to our last disadvantage, price. Discworld has the drive for £79.34. Sounds great until you compare it with the one of its main rivals which costs around £20 less when you factor shipping costs; in other words, the Verbatim is 25 percent more expensive than the competition.

So while the drive by itself is an excellent performer and one which perfectly fulfills its duties, it doesn't offer enough of an impetus to justify a price premium of 25 percent.