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Toshiba Canvio Plus 3.0 1.5TB Review

In this group, the Toshiba Canvio initially came across as the vanilla stepchild—nothing to get excited about, at least in this company, given its bland exterior and specs. We tested the 1.5TB version of the drive, which is the highest capacity offered by Toshiba. Surprisingly, it’s almost as thick as the 2TB WD drive despite its 500GB capacity deficit, so the lesson here is that if you’re going big on a USB drive, prepare to be toting around a Hot Pocket-size enclosure. The 1.5TB drive is only available in black, a decision we are just fine with since we don’t need nor want fancy colors on our USB storage. If you favor a splash of color attached to your USB port, you’ll have to get by with less capacity, as only the 500GB and 1TB models are available in red, blue, and gray (as well as black, natch). 

The Toshiba drive wins the contest of lamest names for devices and software, but is still the best drive here.

The Toshiba drive wins the contest of lamest names for devices and software, but is still the best drive here.

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WD My Passport 2TB Review

At 2TB, WD’s My Passport is the largest-capacity USB hard drive we’ve ever tested, and its four chunky 500GB platters rotate at 5,400rpm. In the palm it feels about as thick as a huge English muffin with a piece of ham in the middle, or a water-logged deck of cards; it’s the thickest drive in this roundup, but only by a tiny margin over the 1.5TB Toshiba. Though this drive is pudgier than the rest at 0.8-inch thick, it’s noticeably shorter than the other two drives at just 4.2 inches long. It comes in a variety of pleasingly subtle, matte color finishes (red, blue, black, gray, white) and is available in sizes ranging from 500GB to 2TB.

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Hitachi Deskstar 5K4000 Review

Finally, a 4TB hard drive. That’s one more than three!

MOST OF US DON'T NEED 4TB hard drives. Most of us don’t even need 3TB drives. Unless you create, edit, or store lots of high-definition video; have backups of all your machines; have a massive lossless audio library; or…. You know what? Maybe we do need 4TB drives. After a couple of years making do with puny 3TB drives (like animals!), it’s time to get 25 percent more stuff into our 3.5-inch drives. Though other drive makers offer 4TB external drives, Hitachi GST is the first drive maker to give you 4TB on the inside. And didn’t your mother or mother-equivalent teach you that it’s what’s on the inside that counts?

We’ve been expecting 4TB drives since Seagate’s 1TB/platter 3TB drive in the January 2012 issue, but the four-platter 4TB 7,200rpm drive we’ve been dreaming of isn’t here yet. Instead, we get Hitachi’s Deskstar 5K4000, which packs a full four terabytes into a standard 3.5-inch drive, but on five platters, not four. The platters have a maximum areal density of 443Gb per square inch. The 5K4000 has 32MB of cache, a 6Gb/s SATA controller, and a spin speed of 5,400rpm.