Review of the Freecom 250GB Tough Drive Pro U&F hard drive

Manufacturer: Freecom
Model: 250GB Tough Drive Pro U&F hard drive
Price: £100

Hard drives aren’t the most exciting of peripheral gadgetry, so their manufacturers have to work a little harder to get noticed. Billed as the ‘toughest drive there is’, the silicon covering and anti-shock frame of the Freecom Tough Drive Pro certainly give it the ‘Olympus mju’ appeal of ruggedness, without, it seems, needing to compromise on what’s inside.

Designed with portability in mind, the Tough Drive Pro is available in capacities from 80GB to 320GB. The unit incorporates a firewire cable, with an additional USB one supplied alongside, although the opposite arrangement is also available as an option.

It can withstand being dropped from two metres without any damage, and with no cooling fan it promises to operate silently, too.

No separate drivers are needed to get started, although the bundled NTI Shadow Backup software allows backup to be either scheduled or to run continuously in the background, and while versioning of files is offered, so too is the control over which versions of what files you wish to keep. And, as well as a two-year guarantee, unlimited helpdesk support is offered free of charge.

Through a firewire port on a Power Mac G5, files show a transfer rate of around 26MB/sec, while the USB 2.0 connection allows an approximate 10-15MB/sec transfer rate. My only niggle is that the integrated cable – which on the sample tested was Firewire – only extends a few inches out from its body. This could prove problematic depending on where exactly the relevant port is on your computer, although the cable’s thick rubberised casing undoubtedly makes it stronger. The additional USB cable is substantially longer, though.

The model offers something slightly different from the norm, and the rubberised casing, integrated cable and versioning functionality are nice touches. This does come at a price though, and much cheaper equivalent models can be bought. Nevertheless, it still performs very well in its own right – just wait for the price to come down a bit.

Impressed with the performance but we’d recommend waiting for the price to come down

Shockproof, software

Short integrated cable, expensive

What Digital Camera Score: 89%