Shiny Review: Buffalo MiniStation Turbo USB External Hard Drive

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mturbo.gifIf you haven’t yet invested in an external hard drive, consider the MiniStation Turbo jobbie from Buffalo, which Alex has reviewed here. Does it earn your hard-earned £49.95? Read on below to find out…

There are so many compact external USB hard drives around these days, that it’s hard to differentiate between them. In some cases it’s extra value – a large capacity for a low price – and often it’s just looks, as in the case of the Pininfarina-pimped SimpleTech drives. But Buffalo’s Turbo USB claims to improve transfer speed by up to 64%. That’s compared to a 4200 RPM HDD, but it should also be substantially faster than a similar 5400 RPM HDD.

I was testing the Buffalo shortly after some other standard drives, so was able to run a pretty fair comparison and conduct something more akin to a group test. Most of these had a slightly higher capacity – usually 160GB – than the Buffalo Turbo’s 120GB. But did it really improve on performance?

Well, yes. For a start, it and the SimpleTech Pininfarina were the only two to work straight out of the box. There was a bit of kerfuffle installing the Pininfarina drive’s supporting software as it gets a bit shirty if you don’t unplug the drive first, but there was no such problem with the Turbo supporting backup software. It goes without saying that neither requires the software to be installed.

I then tried backing up some mixed media files. All worked very quickly and efficiently. I compared this to the other drives. 64% faster? Probably not, but this is fairly hard to judge without a stopwatch and some mathematical patience. Certainly in all cases it was a little faster. But I noticed something that did make a big difference to me and would persuade me to look for a drive like this again – was no notable slowing of other operations when the drive was plugged in, which I’ve often noticed with other drives in the past. Also, when I handed it to our video guru, Chris Cornwell, it worked just as well on his MacBook Pro (which saved me taking it home and testing it out on mine…).

Superficially, it’s also a nice device. It’s small, rounded, compact and black; an inconspicuous addition that’s lightweight and easy to carry around, it’s also designed to let you neatly wrap your mini-to-USB cable around it.

Does it live up to the 64% claim? Not quite. Is it worth getting? Yes, and I think the £49.99 price accurately reflects its value.

Buffalo

Katherine Hannaford