DriveStation Combo 4 is very well connected

Buffalo Technology's new external hard drive offers all the ports and speed you'll need

Using the Version 2.55 of the HD Tune benchmark test, I saw an average transfer rate of 26.6MB/sec., 14.1 milliseconds average access time, and a burst rate of 22.8MB/sec. using 20.8 per cent of the CPU. With TurboUSB on, the average transfer rate rose to 35.7MB/sec, access time remained the same, and the burst rate actually dropped to 22.2MB/sec using 12.1 per cent of the CPU.

For even faster benchmark performance, I tested the drive using the FireWire 800 connection. The results with HD Tach: 79.3MB/sec. burst speed, an average read speed of 61.1MB/sec., and CPU utilization of 1 per cent. With HD Tune, the average transfer rate was 53.4MB/sec., average access time was 14.0, and CPU use was 10.8 per cent.

FireWire's advantage disappeared when I copied files from my hard drive to the Combo 4. My copy of a 1GB MPEG video file using the USB connection took 48 seconds with TurboUSB off and 44 seconds with it on. When connected to the FireWire 800 port, the copy took 53 seconds.

My benchmark tests did point out one anomaly: Both HD Tach and HD Tune reported seriously degraded performance between the 100GB to 150GB marks. For example, in the HD Tune test with the FireWire 800 connection, the transfer rate dropped from an average of 53.4MB/sec. to just 12.1MB/sec.

The drive includes a one-year warranty as well as round-the-clock toll-free telephone tech support in the US and Canada, and it is available in 320GB (US$149) and 500GB (US$189) models.

By having four connectivity options, the Buffalo DriveStation Combo 4 gives you peace of mind about ever-changing technology. Its speed (especially when using the FireWire 800 connection) makes it a good choice for primary storage (especially for storing or playback of large multimedia files) or as a secondary drive for backups. Its quiet operation won't distract you, and its sleek size and appearance won't monopolize your desktop real estate.

Rich Ericson is a US-based technology writer and is the reviews editor of The Office Letter, a site devoted to tips for Microsoft Office.

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