Iomega Micro Mini 8Gb hard drive

Portable storage has come a long way in a short time, and continues to impress: who would have thought a couple of years ago that you could get 8Gb of plug and play data storage in something the size of a credit card (well a half inch thick pile of them anyway - 69.9 x 51 x 14.2mm to be precise) for less than £100? Not us, seeing as we paid twice as much for the outwardly very similar Sony Micro Vault Pro with just 2Gb capacity back then.

Iomega have always managed to innovate with regard to data storage, remember the Zip disk anyone? And while the strong but light (1.75 ounces) alloy case, with the fold away USB connector to prevent it getting damaged in transit, is all but identical to the Sony offering what’s inside most certainly isn’t.

That 8Gb is enough to store your entire digital photo collection, a backup of your iPod Shuffle or nano music collection, and there will almost certainly still be room for a copy of your My Documents folder! Indeed, it’s perfect as a hardware backup solution for either laptop or digital camera, or both. Your data will be safe, despite this being a ‘proper’ mechanical hard drive thanks to the ‘drop shock’ protection, which promises to keep it safe from drops and bumps. We wouldn’t recommend you do the same, but we dropped ours from pocket height onto a carpeted floor and it worked flawlessly afterwards.

Performance wise this doesn’t look any great shakes on paper, 4200 RPM drives are hardly cutting edge technology these days, but the 2Mb cache helps. Don’t expect the instant access as with a USB memory stick, this isn’t flash memory it’s a real mechanical hard drive just like the one in your PC but a lot smaller. The slight lag in accessing data is more than balanced by the sheer portability of the thing, because it’s USB powered there are no power bricks or cables to add to the bulk.

The software bundle is very impressive indeed, apart from the lack of any security applications to safeguard your data once it’s on the drive - apart from a file encryption feature on the backup software that is. This automatic backup solution from Iomega is for both Windows and Mac users, and you also get MusicMatch jukebox audio software again for both platforms, and finally Adobe Photoshop Album SE for Windows only.

And now we come to the but, and this one is big enough to be located on the rear of your favourite opera diva: value for money. It’s not bad value, really, provided you absolutely need all the 8Gb of space (or the tiny physical format) but don’t need any more. The vast majority of people won’t, in which case buy a 1Gb USB memory stick for half the price, and half the size. If you do need the capacity and don’t mind something three times the physical size, yet still small enough to slip into your pocket or handbag, the Buffalo Ministation gives you 32Gb more capacity for £20 less dosh.

Verdict

It's cool in a James Bond kind of a way, it's perfectly functional as well but only if your data storage requirements fit this odd 8Gb niche precisely. The alternatives, all of which are cheaper, leave the Iomega Micro Mini stuck between a rock and a hard drive, or something like that.


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