Forgive me if this reads like a repeat of the iPod Nano review that appeared in these pages some months back, but what else is there to say? I spent a long time just looking at Iomega’s new Micro Mini Hard Drive, saying to myself “I can’t believe it holds 8GB!”, because it’s smaller than my mobile phone. My shock was partly because I’m old enough to remember when similar storage capacity needed 10 times the space and cost 10 times the price.
Smaller but thicker than a credit card, the drive measures 69.9x51x14.2mm. Size apart, Iomega has put some thought into the design and it shows. The USB connector is part of the device you don’t have to mess around with cables in order to link the drive to your PC or Mac.
Another plus is the fact that the drive draws power from the PC itself, so it doesn’t have to be plugged in to the mains. I have enough cable clutter as it is, so these are two very welcome features. Also, the USB connector tucks away into the casing of the drive when it’s not in use, making for a very compact unit.
The drive is built for USB 2.0, which offers fast data transfer, although it works fine — if not quite as quickly — on a computer with a USB 1.1 port. When plugged in, the Micro Mini appears as a standard drive on the desktop.
The Micro Mini comes in three versions: 4, 6 and 8GB costing €129 incl Vat, €149 incl Vat and €169 incl Vat respectively. The package includes a free leatherette carrying case along with software for scheduling backups and handy compression tools if you’re really drowning in data.
There was a time when the sheer volume of content and files meant that an external hard drive was a sensible purchase anyway for additional storage. Now, shrinking technology means that the discussion turns less on how much these drives carry as how easy it is to carry them. On the 8GB device I could hold the past 10 years’ worth of articles I’ve written — with room to spare for photos and MP3s — on a device weighing under 50g that I could clip on my belt. The Micro Mini represents not just the shape of things to come but the size of them too.
By Gordon Smith