Rocport 4 Portable FireWire/USB 2.0 Hard Drive – Review

Rocport 4 Portable FireWire/USB 2.0 Hard Drive
Company: Rocstor
Price: $225.00

What is this company? Where did they come from? Why didn’t I know about them until the final hour of the last day of Macworld 2004 Expo, last January?

At the end of an obscure aisle, far from the commotion at many better-known popular hardware vendors, I encountered Tom, employee #1 at Rocstor. He was enthusiastic about the opportunity to have his stylish, versatile products reviewed in, and posed for a portrait.

I recall Tom explained that Rocstor built its business developing and providing high-capacity external drives and RAID units for demanding content professionals (think: Hollywood), and now the company wants to expand into consumer equipment. If all hard drives and CD or DVD burners are essentially identical under the surface, Rocstor gizmos stand out from the pack with sleek, sexy design plus “I want one!” physical distinction (think: iPod).

My review unit is a 40GB 5400 RPM combo FireWire/USB2 external bus-powered drive with a one year warranty. An attractive leatherette case is included in the box, as are a lean instruction manual, heavy-duty FireWire 400 cable (FW 800 drives will be available soon), and a peculiar custom cable to provide USB2 connectivity for all recent Macs or PCs without requiring an electrical power source. I tried USB both ways, just to make sure—Rocport works fine.

With slim, light 40GB Rocport in my pocket day after day for an entire month, I’m the happiest data delivery dude in Dodge (or Tucson). I pull it out upon arrival at each tutorial client’s house or business, and watch their expressions while I’m connecting it to their computer. “Whazzat?” they ask. “It’s an external storage device with more capacity than your computer has,” I reply. Ten seconds of silence. “You gonna leave it here?” “No,” I say, “but I’ll show you where you can buy one,” as I navigate to Rocstor’s web site.

They use third party resellers (think: MacMall) for sales and distribution, because Rocstor is a manufacturer. Drive prices are affordable. SmartDisk comes to mind as a competitor who makes more rugged (and somewhat stylish) compact drives, and WiebeTech is known for their super-speedy (and almost fashionable) units, but UNLESS YOU DROP IT (please don’t!) Rocport is a winner on price/performance/form factor criteria.

Are you concerned about Rocport’s tech specs or benchmarks? Don’t worry. I tested it using real world data transfer demands, and it flew through its paces. You can get all the techy info from Rocstor’s web site but I’ll save you the effort.

It fits comfortably into my moderate-sized adult hand with easy fingertip-curl around the case. Brushed-aluminum Rocport looks great on or off (there’s a switch!), and the case’s groovy blue glowing front plus ultra-quiet operation and cool temperature are bonuses. Weight is 6.4 ounces, and Macintosh HFS Plus is preformatted.

Owners need to register for 100 days of toll-free technical support during business hours, Pacific Time. Rocstor wants to climb the mighty wall of established Apple-compatible storage peripherals, and we’ll look forward to reviewing additional portable and desktop items as they become available.

Anything wrong with Rocport 4 Portable FireWire/USB 2.0 Hard Drive? Unless you’re planning to play rugby or body-surf with it strapped to your biceps, I’m comfortable rating this high-class drive at 5 out of 5. Keep ‘em coming, Tom.

Now I’ll archive this review onto Rocport, cuz it works!

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