Promise Pegasus J2 review: Finally, a RAID-enabled, superfast, supercompact Thunderbolt drive

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The Good The Pegasus J2 portable Thunderbolt drive is very fast, optionally bus-powered, compact, and offers RAID configurations.

The Bad The Pegasus J2 is expensive, doesn't include USB 3.0 or a Thunderbolt cable, and requires a power adapter to offer top speed.

The Bottom Line Uniquely designed, the Pegasus J2 is perfect for deep-pocketed mobile users who want a compact, superfast, and RAID-enabled storage device, but not the rest.

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

The Promise Pegasus J2 may not be the first portable Thunderbolt drive on the market, but it's still one of a kind.

Despite that it's more compact than any other Thunderbolt portable drive I've reviewed, the J2 manages to be a dual-volume drive, offering users the option of using it as a RAID 0 (default) or RAID 1 drive. On top of that, it uses two solid-state drives as its storage to provide fast data speeds, no matter in what type of RAID you want to configure it in.

The J2 is far from perfect, however. It lacks support for other connection types, such as USB, and it requires an external adapter to offer top performance. It's expensive, too, costing about $800 for 256GB or $1,500 for 512GB, and you have to spend another $50 or so for the much-needed Thunderbolt cable, which isn't included.

That said, if you want a portable drive that offers fast performance, portability, style, and data security, the Pegasus J2 is currently the only one that fits that bill. If you're willing to sacrifice the RAID capability, also check the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt, or the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt for much better pricing and flexibility.

Drive type External Thunderbolt hard drive
Connector options Thunderbolt
Available capacities 256GB, 512GB
Product dimensions (WLH)
2.91 inches x 4.33 inches x 0.81 inch
Weight 4.23 ounces
Capacity of test unit 256GB (SSD)
OSes supported Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later

Design and features
The Pegasus J2 is just slightly larger than a deck of playing cards, and is about as thick. One of the drive's ends is slightly thicker than the other; at the thicker end, you'll find a Thunderbolt port and a power port. The power port is covered by a rubber lid and is not needed to use the drive. Similar to the rest of the portable Thunderbolt drives I've reviewed, the J2 is bus-powered; you just need to plug it into a computer with a Thunderbolt cable.

Unlike the other drives, however, by design, the J2 only works at only some 30 percent of its data-rate capacity when bus-powered. If you want the drive to work at its best, you do need to plug in the included power adapter. According to Promise, the reason for this is because the Thunderbolt technology supplies only 10W per port, which is not enough juice for the J2's two internal drives to offer optimal performance. In my testing, there was indeed a huge difference in terms of the drive's performance between using it bus-powered and with the adapter (more on this below).

The drive's adapter can be used anywhere in the world since it supports AC input in the 100-to-240-volt range and comes with changeable prongs to fit any type of wall power outlets. If that's not travel-friendly enough, the J2's package also includes a nice leather carrying case.

The Pegasus J2 comes with more than you need in terms of power plugs while lacking the much-needed Thunderbolt cable.
The Pegasus J2 comes with more than you need in terms of power plugs while lacking the much-needed Thunderbolt cable. Dong Ngo/CNET

The fact the drive has just one Thunderbolt port means that it can only be used at the end of a daisy chain in case you want to use multiple Thunderbolt devices together. This is not a big deal, though, since all portable Thunderbolt drives I've reviewed come with just one port. The drive offers no USB or FireWire support; consequently it can only be used with Thunderbolt-ready computers and is a lot less flexible than USB 3.0/Thunderbolt drives, such as the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt or the Buffalo Mini Station.

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