A portable hard disk that uses the faster USB3 connection
The main selling point of Buffalo’s Ministation Lite portable hard disk is that it comes with the faster USB3 connection that will supersede the older, more common USB2.
It can still plug into USB2 sockets, although you won’t get the benefit of the faster connection that way.
It is possible to buy a USB upgrade that plugs into the PC’s motherboard but the most likely way people will get this faster type of connection link is when they buy a new PC, and while such PCs are already available in limited numbers, USB3 is not expected to become mainstream until 2011. So in the short term there’s little advantage to buying the Ministation Lite.
Running on a USB2 connection the rate of data transfer was about average, providing the unit was plugged into a main USB socket rather than an unpowered USB2 hub. A 12GB test file transferred at the rate of 1GB every minute, while using a hub extended this time to almost 20 minutes. Using USB3 halve the time taken to transfer files.
The Ministation comes with a set of utilities that includes a backup tool that you can install by double-clicking one of the items stored on the disk. There’s also a security tool that helps prevent access to data stored on the disk if it lost or stolen. We thought the remaining system performance tools provided were of little value, though.
The Buffalo Ministation USB3 costs £80 for 500GB of storage capacity and is available in a choice of colours. At 16mm thick it will easily slip into a jacket pocket or handbag and a 50cm long USB3 cable is provided.
The value of the Ministation Lite will increase when the USB3 standard becomes widespread on new PCs. However, if the faster transfer speed is not an issue for you, USB2 external disks with the same capacity can be bought for around £50.
For most people the £30 extra is not worth it so unless you are planning to upgrade soon, go for a cheaper model.
Read more reviews
A good external hard disk but few will enjoy its full benefits for now Good points Will gain value when USB3 becomes widespread. Bad points Need to upgrade or buy new PC to get full benefit of faster USB3 speeds
Updating your subscription status