Whaddaya do when you have to schlep a project from here to there? Do you unplug your main audio drive from your DAW and gingerly transport it? Do you FTP or network the files over? Do you burn a CD or DVD? Lately, portable drives have become an option — there are solid-state memory sticks, or you could use Seagate’s Pocket Hard Drive.
The Pocket Hard Drive lives up to its name. It’s a sleek round disk, 3" across and 1/2" thick. According to my kitchen scale, it weighs just 2.2 ounces — including a 6" USB cable that retracts into the drive body. (The cable is invisible and held securely when retracted.) The drive case is said to provide shock protection.
2.5 GB and 5.0 GB capacities are available; the 1" drives used turn at 3,600 RPM, and have a 2 MB cache. USB 1.0, 1.1, and 2.0 are supported on Windows Me/2000/XP and Mac OS 9.2.2 or later (including OS X). No drivers are required for Macs; a CD-ROM is included with Windows drivers. Also included on the Windows disc is an application that lets you write- and password-protect the drive, and create partitions, including a bootable partition (if your computer supports USB booting). The drive is USB-powered, so no external power supply is required.
I received a 5.0 GB drive (actually 4.7 GB), which came formatted for FAT-32. I initialized it to Mac Extended format on my laptop, which took all of five seconds. The Pocket Hard Drives aren’t intended for recording applications, but I had to try it out. I found I could get up to twelve 16-bit/44.1kHz tracks to play simultaneously using Digital Performer on my PowerBook, which has USB 2.0; you won’t get the same results using USB 1.0 or 1.1.
In its main application, which is to serve as portable data storage, the Pocket Hard Drive works exactly as intended — but it could actually be used for a simple audio project if necessary. It’s reasonably fast, definitely portable, seems to be pretty sturdy and forgiving of abuse, and it’s cheaper than a USB memory stick. Unless your data stays in one place, a Pocket Hard Drive is a useful thing to have around.