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

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MSRP: $399.99

The Good With 128GB, the Lexar Echo MX 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.

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7.8 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Support 8

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.

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.

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