Buffalo Tech MiniStation Cobalt review: Buffalo Tech MiniStation Cobalt

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.0
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Service and support: 5.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Buffalo MiniStation Cobalt USB 3.0 is a fast, compact, and good-looking USB 3.0 portable hard drive. Out of the box, it's compatible with both PCs and Macs.

The Bad The Buffalo MiniStation Cobalt USB 3.0 doesn't support FireWire or eSATA and doesn't come with an add-in USB 3.0 card. Out of the box, it can't handle files larger than 4GB, and its included software is rather useless. Buffalo has only a one-year warranty for it.

The Bottom Line The MiniStation Cobalt USB 3.0 makes a great storage addition to a laptop computer that already has support or USB 3.0.

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The Buffalo MiniStation Cobalt USB 3.0 is a great deal for a USB 3.0-ready computer. If your computer lacks USB 3.0, however, you won't be able to take advantage of the drive's fast speed. At around $130 (the 500GB version) or $180 (the 640GB version), the MiniStation Cobalt USB 3.0 is one of the most affordable USB 3.0-based portable hard drives on the market.

Nonetheless, if your laptop doesn't support USB 3.0, yet, which most of the existing one don't, you'll be possibly better off going for the slightly more expensive Seagate BlackArmor PS110 USB 3.0 that includes a USB 3.0 PC card. If you want something that also supports FireWire, check out the new Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex, which comes with optional adapters that collectively support all existing types of storage connections.

Design and features

Drive type 2.5-inch external USB hard drive
Connector options USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Size (WHD) 5.0 x 3.4 x 0.6 inches
Weight 6.5 ounces
Available capacities 500GB, 640GB
Capacity of test unit 640GB
OSes supported Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, 7), Mac OS 10.4 or higher
Software included Buffalo Backup Utility, TurboPC for Windows

The MiniStation Cobalt is a sleek-looking yet frills-free portable storage solution. The device is housed in a glossy black chassis with rounded corners. It has four tiny rubber feet on its bottom to keep it grounded on any surface but is compact enough to fit in any pocket.

The drive has only one mini-USB 3.0 port on its back end and comes with a USB 3.0 cable that serves both as data and power cable. This is a standard cable with one end that works with any mini-USB 3.0 ports and the other that fits in any computer USB port. The drive only supports USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, not the legacy USB 1.1, as these newer ports can provide enough juice to power the device.

On top, the Cobalt has a little LED indicator that flashes blue to show drive activity. There's also a white Buffalo logo that lights up when the drive is plugged in.

There's nothing to setting up the external drive. All you have to do is plug it into a computer using the included USB cable. The computer will then recognize the drive, and you can use it as you would any internal hard drive.

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Where to Buy

Buffalo Tech MiniStation Cobalt USB 3.0 (500GB)

Part Number: HD-PE500U3/BK-US

MSRP: $124.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Hard Drive Type external hard drive
  • Interface Type SuperSpeed USB 3.0
  • Capacity 500 GB