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Computer Accessories

Western Digital Passport Studio hard drives: Why didn't we think of this sooner?

Western Digital continues its line of external hard drives with a customisable E-Ink-style display that tells you how much storage space is left on the drive

Sometimes a product makes us wish we could travel back in time and steal the idea for ourselves, thereby becoming millionaires. While the idea behind Western Digital's new range of hard drives probably wouldn't make us insanely rich, it would make everyone's life slightly easier.

The My Passport Studio range of hard-drives come in 320GB, 500GB and 640GB flavours, and like the earlier My Book range will display the drive's remaining capacity on a digital screen on the front.

This customisable 'e-label' can also be used to remind you what you're using the hard-drive for -- so you won't have to fly into a time-consuming apoplectic rage every time you reach for your music hard drive and accidentally plug in the drive full of holiday photos.

At this point you're probably thinking the e-label is a terrible idea, because you won't be able to see the drive's remaining capacity while it's unplugged. Not so, however! The display uses a similar technology to the the E-Ink you find in Amazon's Kindle, so once disconnected, the display will remain fixed until you plug the hard-drive back in and pump it full of more content. The battery will last up to two years without plugging it in, and if you haven't plugged it in in two years, you really don't need to know how much spare storage is on it.

The Passport Studio range isn't perfect. Macbeth was ambitious, Hamlet was indecisive, and these Western Digital hard-drives are (broadly speaking) Mac-compatible only. With a little technical japery you might be able to format one of these to play nice with Windows -- we've asked Western Digital about this and we're waiting for confirmation -- but for now they're very squarely aimed at the Mac market. If you're desperate for some digital-display hard-drive action, consider the slightly older and much higher capacity My Book Elite range.

The 360GB model will set you back about £100. Stay tuned for UK availability and pricing details.