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OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro Review

Portable, stylish USB/FireWire external hard disk drive case kit By Guy Wright

OWC's Mercury On-The-Go Pro portable hard disk drive case kit

OWC's Mercury On-The-Go Pro portable hard disk drive case kit

We had the opportunity to evaluate a 120GB Mercury On-The-Go Pro portable hard disk drive case kit ($84.95 without drive) from Other World Computing ( and have to admit, once you get the drive up and running its a pretty cool little device. Measuring 3.5 x 5.5 x 1 (WxDxH) the clear impact-resistant acrylic enclosure will accept any 2.5 hard disk drive up to 500GB. The enclosure features a Oxford 912 FireWire chipset driving the two FireWire 800 1394B ports and a Prolific 2507 USB 2.0 / USB 1.1 chipset driving the single USB port. OWC also offers a FireWire 400/USB 2.0 and a FireWire 400 version. Other than a port for connecting the external power transformer mini-brick theres an on/off switch and thats about it. The unit comes with a single three-foot FireWire cable and an 18 USB cable, a very brief (three page) Owners Manual, a CD containing drivers, EMC/Dantzs Retrospect Express (for Mac and PC) and Intechs Hard Disk SpeedTools (Mac only), and a carrying case.

Right out of the box we encountered our first minor glitch. Seems the manual/pamphlet was for a slightly different unit not really a big deal since there isnt a whole lot of information in the manual and the unit isnt that complicated to begin with. The next glitch we encountered was getting our Gateway XP PC to recognize the drive. The manual only has a cryptic ?Windows 2000/XP users will have to create a signature for the drive in the Computer Management control panel, but doesnt give any more detailed information than that. A quick visit to the OWC web site (and a little digging around in the tech support section) led to more detailed instructions for using the drive with a PC. Since OWC mainly caters to the Mac crowd the drives they ship are formatted for Macs so PC users will have to reformat the drive as NTFS before they can access it. Mac OS X users should be able to just plug it in without reformatting or installing any drivers. Earlier Mac OS users may have to install FireWire or USB drivers and run the Intech SpeedTools application). An optional MacDrive utility is also available for those needing to share the drive between PCs and Macs.

Once we reformatted the drive the computer recognized it and we were in business. Depending on which type of connection you use and the speed of the enclosed hard drive your data transfer rates are going to range from about 60MB/s if you are using the USB2 port up to about 80MB/s if you are using the FireWire 800 port. The unit we received contained a Segate Momentus 120GB, 5400rmp hard drive which was more than fast enough to keep up with either connections maximum transfer rates.

We mentioned that this unit is actually a kit that can support any 2.5 hard disk drive. While OWC offers multiple configurations of Mercury On-The-Go units with pre-installed hard drives ranging from 40GB up to 160GB (prices range from $129.99 up to $449.99), you can order the kit without a drive and install one of your own. Although we didnt receive a drive mounting instruction manual with our unit (presumably they include one with empty kits) the instructions are available on the OWC website. We didnt have to go through the whole drive mounting procedure but it looks about as easy as it can get. Just mount the drive on the circuit board, attach it with four screws, slide the board and drive into the enclosure, snap the plastic endplate in place, secure it with two more screws, and youre done.

Being such a simple device to begin with there isnt much more to say about the Mercury On-The-Go Pro except that it works and being able to see the disc drive inside the clear plastic case is pretty cool. So if youre looking for a way to turn an existing hard disk drive into a portable device or you need to physically transport a lot of data then the OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro kit is a lightweight and stylish storage option.

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Guy Wright has been kicking around computers and video for more years than he cares to admit and written too many articles to count. He has been a director, editor, producer, video operator, and announcer for a score of radio and TV stations. His credits include hundreds of insipid local-origination programs and commercials, dozens of cheesy radio spots, and even a book or two. Mainly he writes and edits articles for Digital Media Online.
Related Keywords:Mercury On-The-Go Pro, OWC, hard disk, Other World Computing, Dantz, Retrospect Express, Intech, Segate, storage,

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