Elgato Thunderbolt SSD review: The crazy price of the magic

CNET editor Dong Ngo reviews the first Thunderbolt bus-powered portable drive from Elgato and finds the speedy storage device the prime example of how much consumers have to pay for Apple's "magic," and not just in terms of money.

Bus-powered portable drives, those that don't need a separate power adapter to work, are not new and have been in the market for years. But the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD is the first made specifically for Macs and for now can only work with Macs.

For this reason, like many thing Apple-made, it changes everything all over, again.

The Elgato Thunderbolt SSD could be much more compact if it had a shorter Thunderbolt cable of its own, instead of Apple's standard 6.6-foot cable.
The Elgato Thunderbolt SSD could be much more compact if it had a shorter Thunderbolt cable of its own, instead of Apple's standard 6.6-foot cable. Dong Ngo/CNET

For one, it's by far the fastest bus-powered portable drive on the market, though not at all the fastest among Thunderbolt storage devices. Secondly, it's super-expensive at $700 for 240GB (or $450 for 120GB).

While souped-up pricing and performance of Thunderbolt devices are, again, not new, the fact that the Elgato uses Apple's standard Thunderbolt cable, which by the way you'll have to pay another $50 for, is just really over the top. This is because the cable is really long, all 6.6 feet, which means there's no way you can put this portable and compact drive near a laptop without having an excessive amount of cable running all over the place.

It's ironic that the cable itself is almost bulkier than the drive itself, hence, defeating the portability of the device.

But if you're looking for a really fast portable storage device to use with your new Macbook Air or Macbook Pro on the go, that's how much you'll likely have to put up with. The fact that Macs generally don't support USB 3.0 means that you have no other options.

For more information on how the drive stacks up against other Thunderbolt storage devices, check out the full review of the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD drive.

About the author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

 

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