Every notebook user has confronted capacity issues at some point: The dinky 20GB or 40GB drive that seemed big enough when you bought your laptop fills up, and you need more storage. You could buy an external USB/FireWire drive, but then you’d have to lug it around with you. Or you could upgrade the internal hard drive in your notebook, but what would you do with the old drive?
Hitachi cleverly solves the problem with an upgrade kit that gives you a new 2.5-inch hard drive ranging from 40GB to 100GB and a USB enclosure to convert your old drive into a portable USB hard drive. In practice, it works exactly as advertised, and it turns out to be a decent bargain as well.
Provided your laptop accepts a parallel ATA 2.5-inch hard drive (and most do), installation is simple. First you place the new drive inside the USB enclosure. Next, you boot off the included CD, which clones your existing drive to the new drive. When that’s finished, you take the new drive out of the USB enclosure and install it in your laptop (you just have to find the hard drive area on the underbelly of your notebook, remove the cover, remove the drive, and perform the swap). You then take the old drive and insert it into the USB enclosure, fasten several screws, and you’re done. On our test machine, the process was trouble-free.
Our gripes? We’re not crazy about the external enclosure. The plastic casing feels cheap and the drive rattles around inside when you shake it, which can’t be good for the drive or the data on its platters. Though it’s unlikely you’ll intentionally shake a hard drive, it’s disappointing that the unit doesn’t feel more durable. We’d also like to see a kit with a 7200rpm hard drive, instead of the current 5400rpm offerings.