Beneath the large anodized aluminum case is a Maxtor 3.5-inch DiamondMax Plus 9 hard drive that spins at 7,200rpm, includes 8MB of hardware cache, and has a rated seek time of 9.3 milliseconds. Based on a 133MB per second ATA and a USB 2.0 interface, the drive is capable of delivering a peak throughput of 272Mbps. To show that it's ready for data, the silver switch has a blue LED that throbs hypnotically. The kit comes with a USB cable, an AC adapter, a stand, a start-up guide, and a CD with a manual, a backup application, and some drivers. Maxtor sells USB OneTouch drives for PCs in 80GB, 120GB, 160GB, 200GB, and 250GB capacities; FireWire drives for Macs in 160GB, 200GB, and 250GB capacities; and combo FireWire and USB drives that work with either operating system in 160GB, 200GB, 250GB, and 300GB capacities.
Once the drive is set up and the included Dantz Retrospect Express program is configured, OneTouch lives up to its name, with the easiest data backups on the planet. Tap the illuminated blue button on the front, and the computer copies, compresses, and sends its files to the drive. Restoring a computer in the case of a system crash requires you to go through Retrospect's interface, but it's a snap.
With data transfer rates of up to 480Mbps, the rated speed for USB 2.0, the OneTouch is fast. The OneTouch's transfer speeds clocked in between 98.4Mbps and 138.7Mbps when moving a slew of digital audio and video files onto and off of the drive, and it performed an initial backup of our notebook's 11.5GB in just more than 32 minutes. We're happy to note that regardless of whether it was churning through data or idle, the drive was pleasantly silent.
The OneTouch comes with a one-year warranty, which is on a par with warranties for Western Digital and SimpleTech external products. If anything goes wrong, Maxtor has an excellent Web site, with software downloads, general help, and a product-specific troubleshooting section. Maxtor's site also includes a top-notch online forum. Phone support is toll-free for the life of the product, but the company staffs its phone line only Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., MT. When we called, a knowledgeable person correctly answered our question after we waited on hold for two minutes.
At its current price of $180, the 160GB OneTouch costs about the same as Western Digital's 120GB USB 2.0 drive. But the one-touch feature along with the included backup software makes this a very reasonably priced storage solution.