Transcend Information ESD200 portable SSD review: A tiny portable storage powerhouse

Mediocre backup feature
If you want to use the ESD200 strictly as a portable drive, you should have no problems. However, it may be a little tricky if you want to use its software and features.

Near the USB port, the drive has a One-Touch backup button. According to the user manual, to use this button, "You must first run the preloaded Transcend Elite software (located in the Transcend Elite directory of your SSD)". Sounds easy enough -- but in my trial, it was anything but, since out of the box the drive was empty with nothing preloaded to it.

As it turns out, you can download the software from Transcend's Web site, which I did. After copying the software onto the drive, I still couldn't figure out how to make it work with the button, and there were no further instructions.

The Transcend Elite software can do more than just backups and can work by itself without the One-Touch button. In my experience, it could use some huge improvement in terms of ease of use. It was quite hard to figure out how each of its functions worked, and there seemed to be several unnecessary steps needed to get one simple task done.

The Transcend Elite desktop software is so hard to use that it's close to worthless.
The Transcend Elite desktop software is so hard to use that it's close to worthless. Dong Ngo/CNET

In all, you should skip the drive's features and just use it as a blank medium.

Fast performance
The ESD200's performance more than makes up for its lackluster software and backup features. The drive is among the fastest I've seen as long as you use it with USB 3.0.

When used with USB 3.0, the drive registered sustained speeds of about 145MBps for writing and 213MBps for reading, easily topping the charts of portable storage devices. Interesting, it was even faster than the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt , both when it was used with Thunderbolt and with USB 3.0.

CNET Labs external hard drive USB 3.0 performance scores (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
Transcend ESD200 portable SSD
212.75 
145.7 
WD My Passport Ultra
117.87 
118.5 
LaCie FastKey
115.5 
87.1 
Lexar JumpDrive Triton
112.19 
90.8 
Silicon Power Armor A15
112.09 
113 
Seagate Backup Plus
110.1 
90.9 
LaCie Minimus USB 3.0
104.9 
87.7 
Toshiba Canvio Desk
103.74 
88.9 
Silicon Power Armor A80
102.7 
87.8 
Seagate GoFlex Slim
101.9 
82.4 
G-Drive Slim
100.3 
86.7 
HP Portable Hard Drive
83.65 
69.4 

When used with USB 2.0, the drive wasn't as impressive, however, registering just 26MBps and 32MBps for writing and reading, respectively -- slightly below the average. This means if your computer supports only USB 2.0, you will miss out a lot. Note that, generally, a USB 3.0 port is colored blue.

CNET Labs USB 2.0 external hard drive performance scores (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
G-Technology G-Connect
31.3 
30.9 
LaCie FastKey
36.6 
28.8 
Seagate Backup Plus
33 
28.74 
WD My Passport Ultra
33.67 
28.4 
Seagate GoFlex Slim
37.3 
27.7 
LaCie Rugged Key
35.22 
26.6 
Transcend ESD200
32.15 
26.4 
Silicon Power Armor A15
32.64 
26.4 
G-Drive Slim
32.74 
25.6 
WD My Passport Edge
32.69 
25.1 

Having no moving parts, the ESD200 was completely quiet and produced no vibration, even during heavy loads. The drive also consumes less energy, making it an even better laptop companion, compared with platter-based portable drives.

Conclusion
Smaller than a deck of playing cards, the Transcend ESD200 packs more performance than portable drives a few times its size. Despite the mediocre bundled software and backup feature, the drive is an excellent buy for mobile users who have a small laptop or an ultrabook that supports USB 3.0.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Hard Drive Type external hard drive
  • Capacity 128 GB