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Lexar Echo MX backup drive 128GB review: Lexar Echo MX backup drive 128GB

Lexar Echo MX backup drive 128GB

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Dong Ngo
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Dong Ngo

SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews

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 3D printers, networking/storage devices, 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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4 min read

At $400, the Lexar Echo MX backup drive is arguably the most expensive thumbdrive on the market. But there's good reason for its hefty price tag: it's also the first tiny little storage device with 128GB of storage space, offering 8GB more than the second-tiniest drive, the LaCie FastKey.

Lexar Echo MX backup drive 128GB
7.8

Lexar Echo MX backup drive 128GB

The Good

With 128GB, the <b>Lexar Echo MX</b> backup drive is the largest-capacity thumbdrive to date. It offers good performance, comes in a nifty, compact design, supports 128-bit AES encryption, and is bundled with automatic backup software for both Macs and PCs.

The Bad

The Lexar Echo MX is expensive and doesn't support USB 3.0. Its plastic casing seems fragile and can be scratched easily.

The Bottom Line

If you're willing to dig a hole in your wallet, the Lexar Echo MX could be a great option for quick backups and on-the-go storage.

Unlike the FastKey, however, the Echo doesn't support USB 3.0, meaning slower performance, and it has a seemingly flimsy plastic case that's susceptible to scratches. It doesn't offer 256-bit AES encryption, just the 128-bit version, which is slightly less secure.

To make up for this, in addition to its smaller size and larger storage space, the Echo has a nice design, with a permanent storage meter that shows how much storage space has been used. If you want something that can back up a typical laptop's worth of documents and photos, the Echo is definitely a good choice, even at the price.

Design and features

Drive type Compact external USB portable drive
Connector options USB 2.0
Size 2.6-inch long thumbdrive
Weight .96 oz
Available capacities 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
Capacity of test unit 128GB
OSes supported Windows and Mac OS X
Software included Lexar Echo Backup for Mac and PC

The Lexar Echo MX backup drive's shape is typical for a USB thumbdrive--measuring just 2.6 inches long and weighing merely .96 ounce--with one end being the USB head that goes into a USB port. Again, although it looks like one of those popular thumbdrives, which can hold somewhere between 2GB and 16GB of storage at most, this is the first we've seen that can hold up to 128GB of data, equivalent to about 15 high-definition movies at full 1080p resolution.

One part of the drive's housing is a sleeve cap that can slide back and forth to cover or reveal the USB head. The other part comes with something even more interesting: a permanent capacity meter that shows the level of storage space left. Although the meter only changes when the drive is plugged into a computer, it maintains the reading even when the drive is unplugged. This is similar to the electronic label of the WD My Passport Studio. At the other end, the drive has a little hook in case you want attach it to a key chain, which you should do to prevent it from going missing.

Overall we like the design of the Echo but found its housing a little flimsy, especially when the sleeve cap is in the closed position covering the USB head. The surface of the casing is also susceptible to scratches, not a good thing if you keep the drive with a bunch of keys. For a device that costs a substantial amount, we'd expect the drive to be made of a more durable material like aluminum.

The drive comes preformatted in the FAT32 file system. This means it will work with both Macs and PCs immediately. This also means, however, that the drive can't be used to store files larger than 4GB. This is just a limitation of FAT32. You can easily convert or reformat it into the NTFS (Windows) or HFS+ (Mac) file system to overcome this shortcoming. If you choose to reformat, make sure you back up the Lexar Echo Backup software the drive comes with.

The software works very much like that of the HP SimpleSave or Clickfree C2N. Once plugged in, the software will run by itself and take care of backup by automatically finding important data and copying it onto the Echo drive. There are options to further customize what files and folders to back up and how often. In addition, the drive comes with 2GB of free online backup. Overall, we found the backup software works well for PCs. For a Mac, we'd recommend Time Machine instead.

Performance
Despite supporting only USB 2.0, the Lexar Echo MX backup drive impressed us with its performance, especially for a drive of its tiny physical size.

In our testing, it registered 20.2MBps for writing, compared with the LaCie FastKey's 28.8MBps. In reading, the Echo scored 36.3MBps, just a tad slower than the 36.6MBps of the FastKey.

What is interesting is the fact that these numbers are actually higher than those Lexar claims for the Echo, which are 17MBps for writing and 30MBps for reading. Note that the throughput speeds also depend on the computer you use the drive with. Overall, among USB 2.0 external storage devices, we found the Echo's performance above our expectations, considering its ultracompact physical size.

CNET Labs USB 2.0 external hard-drive performance (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
Clickfree C2N
40.1 
28.2 
LaCie FastKey
36.6 
28.8 
IoSafe SoloPro
36.6 
28.7 
LaCie Minimus
36.5 
28.7 
Lexar Echo MX
36.3 
20.2 
LG N1T1
24.8 
17.6 

Service and support
Lexar Media backs the Echo MX backup drive with an impressive five-year warranty, which is the most important aspect of support for a storage device. At the company's Web site, there's a support page for the drive with a long list of FAQs about different functions and the backup software.

Conclusions
With its great amount of storage space and tiny form, the Lexar Echo MX backup drive is an excellent secure mobile backup and data storage solution. Its hefty price tag and relatively flimsy design, however, might make many think twice.

Lexar Echo MX backup drive 128GB
7.8

Lexar Echo MX backup drive 128GB

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 7Support 8