The Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus external desktop drive has a 750GB capacity and can connect to your PC through either USB 2.0 or FireWire 400 ports. It may not look pretty, but its good transfer speeds and fair pricing make it worth buying.
The Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus is a desktop drive, and it has a blocky shape that measures 150(l)x170(h)x63(w). Its case is comprised of a mix of polished aluminium with black plastic. Its sides are made of aluminium, and they are sunken, which provides a little more protection than all-plastic cases. A status light shaped like a bar sits on the front.
The status light stays on whlie the hard drive is inactive, but it blinks while the drive is reading and writing data. It doubles as a backup button that launches the Maxtor Manager software when pressed.
Because it requires external power, you'll need to be in the vicinity of a power outlet whenever you want to use the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus. There is no fan to cool the hard drive and this helps keep the OneTouch 4 Plus quiet; the only thing you'll hear is the spinning of the drive, but this is not a bothersome noise. The Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus hard drive gets quite warm after a few hours of data crunching, but not to the point where it becomes uncomfortable to hold. The 750GB hard drive spins at 7200rpm and has a 16MB cache. It can connect to computers using both FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 ports.
To test its speed, we copied 23 files with a combined size of 19.4GB between our test PC, which uses a Western Digital Velociraptor (WD3000GLFS) hard drive, and the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus external hard drive.
Using USB 2.0, the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus external hard drive achieved a read speed of 28.58MBps and a write speed of 25.47MBps. When using FireWire 400, the Maxtor OneTouch 4 managed a read speed of 38.14MBps and a write speed of 25.85MBps. The small number of files that we used suits the FireWire 400 connection best, and this was reflected in our tests.
Although FireWire 400 has a slower overall throughput speed than USB 2.0 (400Mbps vs. 480Mbps), it provides a better sustained transfer rate. This means that if you're transferring a small number of large files, you'll get faster speeds when using a FireWire 400 connection, but USB 2.0 will outperform it when you're transferring a large number of small files.
If you're storing large files like movies and have a FireWire 400 connection on your computer, the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus hard drive will be much faster than an external hard drive that only provides a USB 2.0 connection.
The read speed of the Maxtor OneTouch Plus 4 was similar to the one found in the Western Digital My Passport Studio II external hard drive, which also has both a USB 2.0 and FireWire 400/800 connection. This is despite the fact that the My Passport Studio II spins slower (5400rpm as opposed to 7200rpm). The transfer speed is limited by the connection's maximum throughput, not by the drive's spin speed.
The Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus external hard drives come with Maxtor Manager, which allows you to backup, synchronise and encrypt data. The program is easy to use and employs 256-bit AES encryption, which is currently one of the highest levels of encryption offered to commercial users. It creates a hidden folder for storing the encrypted data. Unfortunately, the encryption process is done on a file-by-file basis, so encrypting a folder with a large number of files takes some time. We encrypted 500 identical 1MB files and the entire process took 2min 54sec, and each file requires decryption before access is allowed.
With a formatted capacity of 698GB, the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus' cost-per-gigabyte is 50 cents. When compared to the 81.5 cents per formatted gigabyte of the afore-mentioned Western Digital My Passport Studio II external hard drive, this is good value. However, if you don't need or have a FireWire port, you're better off with a Seagate FreeAgent Desk (ST310005FDA2E1-RK) because of its better looks, faster USB transfer speeds and a cheaper cost per gigabyte of 32.1 cents.
So if you're looking for an desktop drive with FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 ports, and you don't mind the blocky design, the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus offers good speeds and a relatively good price.