Editors' note: The final rating of this review has been updated to reflect a discrepancy in calculation. None of the individual scores have changed.
The Apple MacBook Air laptop is popular for its sleek design and portability, but the small hard-drive capacities are limiting for digital packrats. The 320GB Iomega eGo Helium external hard drive offers MacBook Air users additional storage space in an equally attractive case. Iomega also keeps the Mac love flowing by formatting the drive with Apple's HFS+ file system. At $143, it's easy to recommend the Iomega eGo Helium for its low cost per gigabyte and impressive transfer speeds.
Design and features
|Drive type||External USB Flash Hard Drive|
|Connector options||USB 2.0|
|Product dimensions (LWH)||0.63x3.45x4.75 inches|
|Capacity of test unit||320GB|
|OSes supported||Microsoft Windows Vista, 2000, 2000 Professional, XP Home, XP Professional, Mac OS X, version 10.1.5 or higher|
|Software included||EMC Retrospect and MozyHome Online backup software|
The exterior of the eGo Helium is an almost identical match to the MacBook Air. From the rounded edges to the brushed silver finish, the drive makes a perfect complement to the Air or any other Apple laptop. It's also easy to slip into your jacket pocket or a bag thanks to its slim profile. The drive is entirely unmarked except for the top side that houses a single USB 2.0 port and a small light that glows when the drive is in use. The drive is powered by the USB bus, but unlike previous eGo iterations, it doesn't have an extra power port. In addition, the USB cord that comes with the drive is single pronged--the Camo and Brown Leather versions have two USB connectors attached to the cord in case your laptop needs double the power to run the drive.
There's not much else to report on the exterior design. At times, we wished for a sticky grip on the bottom of the drive to prevent the drive from sliding around, but we also understand Iomega keeping the body free of protrusions. Don't let its delicate body fool you--the Helium is protected by Iomega's Drop Guard technology that shields the drive against drops from up to 51 inches on industrial carpeting.
Cost per gigabyte
The Iomega eGo Helium is able to inch past the Seagate FreeAgent Go in a cost per gigabyte comparison. The Seagate is an excellent value at 47 cents per gigabyte, but the eGo is slightly cheaper at 45 cents per gigabyte. Of the three latest Iomega external hard drives to hit the market, the eGo Camo and Brown Leather versions are cheaper still at just 42 cents per gigabyte. The tiny differences in price between the three drives make the aesthetic appeal that much more important, and luckily, the Iomega eGo Helium flaunts its style with pride.
Although we test hard drives for both read and write times, we rarely find a disparity in read speed. The time it takes for the drive to write data to its disk is where the winners and losers emerge. The Iomega eGo Helium definitely emerges a winner here, writing an impressive 19.43 megabytes per second. Its only competitor is another Iomega drive, the eGo Camo, and the difference is only a fraction of a megabyte anyway. Even our Editors' Choice winning Seagate FreeAgent Go drive was outpaced by the Helium, finishing the test at almost 2 megabytes less per second.
Service and support
Iomega backs the entire eGo hard-drive series with a one-year limited warranty that covers defective products and damage at the manufacturer's discretion. Iomega will also replace the hard drive or refund the full retail price if they're unable to fix the problem. Additional troubleshooting and support items including the Iomega user-to-user support forums are available on the Iomega Web site.