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Installation / Operation - Windows 2000

Look no drivers required! Assuming you've already got your Firewire card installed, the drives themselves will be recognised immediately by Windows 2000 which will install generic Microsoft drivers (make sure you've updated to Service Pack 2 otherwise you may have problems).

You can plug or unplug at any time as long as you remember to use the "Unplug or Eject Hardware" button on the task bar. As soon as Windows 2000 has detected a drive it will be assigned with a drive letter and just appear in Explorer.

Here's what Windows 2000 device manager sees of the drives (Devices by connection).

And here's what both drives looked like in Explorer (drive letters assigned manually):

Here's what Windows 2000 Disk Manager made of the drives (drive M & N - here I've reformatted the 60 GB Drive to NTFS):


Installation / Operation - Mac OS 8.6+ (9.1)

Installation on a Mac is almost as easy as Windows, though it does require you have Apple's Firewire extensions v2.2.2 (minimum, our Mac had v2.7). Once that's done just connect the drive, switch it on and it will appear on your desktop as a removable drive (assuming it's formatted, otherwise you'll need to do that). From there you just treat it as any other storage device. Don't forget to drag it to the trashcan once you've finished (to flush and close the device) before disconnecting. We had no problems using the drives and they were just as quick and reliable as under Windows 2000.

Here's how Apple's System Profiler saw the drive (60 GB Unit):


Installation / Operation - Mac OS X (10.0.4)

Again, just as with Mac OS installation on OS X was straightforward, just connect the drive, OS X recognises it and immediatley displays a desktop icon. If the drive isn't already formatted for OS X it will automatically take you to Drive Setup to choose the filesystem type.

Installation on a Mac is almost as easy as Windows, though it does require you have Apple's Firewire extensions v2.2.2 (minimum, our Mac had v2.7). Once that's done just connect the drive, switch it on and it will appear on your desktop as a removable drive (assuming it's formatted, otherwise you'll need to do that). From there you just treat it as any other storage device. Don't forget to drag it to the trashcan once you've finished (to flush and close the device) before disconnecting. We had no problems using the drives and they were just as quick and reliable as under Windows 2000.

And here's what a drive looked like on the OS X desktop (mounted under /Volumes):

Here's OS X's Disk Utility:


Performance

In use the drives were both very fast, it was very difficult to tell the difference between the external FireWire drives and my internal hard disks. There was no noticeable latency in access nor copying large or small files. Running some industry standard benchmarks against the drives they performed as well, and in the case of the Desktop External drive even better!

SiSoft Sandra Hard disk benchmark

  Mobile External
(30 GB)
Desktop External
(60 GB)
Internal SCSI
(36 GB)
Drive Index 12,881 23,345 19,956
Sequential Read 18 MB/s 35 MB/s 28 MB/s
Random Read 4 MB/s 7 MB/s 7 MB/s
Sequential Write 19 MB/s 24 MB/s 28 MB/s
Random Write 4 MB/s 9 MB/s 7 MB/s
Average Access Time 12 ms 7 ms 7 ms
CPU Utilization 1.2% 1.2% 2.0%

HD Tach read speed graphs

Mobile External (30 GB) Sequential Read Speed
Desktop External (60 GB) Sequential Read Speed


Conclusion

Think! Computer Product's Fire-N-Ice External Firewire drives do exactly what they're supposed to, at a good price. On top of this they performed very well being almost indistinguishable from internal hard disks. I'm a big fan of Firewire and the pocket sized Mobile external drive is the ideal solution to my always overflowing 'Pics' directory. Instant access, high speed and portability.

A great solution for professionals and serious amateurs alike, and almost definetly if you take your work (files) from home to work or between work places.

These products are available from: Think Computer Products, www.thinkmemory.com, 16812 Hale Avenue Irvine, CA 92606 Toll free: (800)347-1249 / Local: (949)833-3222 / Fax: (949)833-3389.

Don't forget to mention dpreview if you want a discount!

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