WiebeTech “ComboGB Pocket Drive” Portable Disk Drive with FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2/1.1 Ports
Company: WiebeTech
Price: $290.00 (US)
http://www.wiebetech.com/products/ComboGB.html

Model tested is: CGB50/5400, priced at $290 at WiebeTech’s online store.

There are two essential things you need to know as soon as you remove this exciting new WiebeTech external portable pocket combo drive from its package:

1) This is one W-A-R-M portable, when connected and running for an extended time! Its entire brushed aluminum case serves as a heat dissipator for the 5400RPM, 2.5 inch drive inside, so get into the habit of holding an active or recently-removed case by its rubberized edges. I don’t know about summertime in Wichita, Kansas, where WiebeTech is located, but here in scorching hot Tucson, Arizona, we’re used to heated surfaces, and this product certainly qualifies.


(To be fair, I retested its temperature in comparison to earlier Wiebe and Other World Computing pocket drives, and this ComboGB is warmer, but that’s not a deal killer. Its low-decibel humming sound is almost inaudible, which we applaud.)

2) A CD entitled “Product Information & Manuals” is enclosed to help users learn everything about their new Pocket Drive, but no printed material or quickstart guide is included.

Okay. Two gripes is not too bad. Aside from manuals and case temperature, this three-port ComboGB is a beauty. In the past we’ve asked CEO James Wiebe to soften the sharp edges on his utilitarian pocket drive cases, and he responded with class and style. The newest ComboGB is as attractive and distinctive as its most recently-reviewed competitor <http://www.mymac.com/nemo> from Rocstor.

At roughly the size of a small adult male hand, ComboGB is lightweight at 8 ounces. Aside from an embossed company name on the top, there are no rough surfaces or blunt edges. You must respect Wiebe’s “DO NOT DROP!” warning printed on the bottom. Their warranty is generous, but don’t do something stupid that puts your precious product in jeopardy.

More cables are included than you’ll find in a Radio Shack store. Just kidding, but in the box are: FireWire 800 (both ends), FireWire 400 (both ends), USB standard A-B, USB self-powering cable (see below for description), and FireWire 6 pin in to FireWire 4 pin out adapter. Whew! The only cable missing is a FireWire 800 to FireWire 400, but that would be overkill, right? An AC power adapter is available as separate purchase.

Or, as WiebeTech tells its customers:

We’ve even included 5 cables and adapters to resolve a variety of power and data connectivity issues. Because the design of ComboGB is based on the popular OXUF922, all compatibility issues have been resolved for all recent major operating systems.

Translation: with your Macintosh or recent Windows computer, the pocket drive should mount without any special additional software installers.

Let’s get back to that CD mentioned above. With an entire disk to fill, WiebeTech gives purchaser PDF manuals (and Windows drivers) for every company product going back to the Aztecs. On page 8 of the 23-page document for ComboGB Pocket Drive, I learned how the dual-USB cable is supposed to work for bus-powering computers that don’t have FireWire (not typical for most Macintoshes).

Data transfer speeds are what we expect from small, fast, well-engineered external drives. My computers are not recent enough to give you G5-era benchmarks, so please accept the fact that WiebeTech products are at a par with the competition for data retrieval and transfer. My Tucson colleague David Weeks will be getting a new mega-Mac soon, so let us know if you need time trial results for moving enormous iDVD and iMovie projects, or an entire hard drive’s worth of accumulated data files.

Specifications:

Interface: FireWire 800, 400, USB2 using Oxford OXYF922
Power Supply: +5V DC / 1AMP plug
Drive Compatibility: ATA-5 and ATA-6 2.5” notebook drives
Compatible with:
Mac OS X, 9.1, 9.2
Windows 98SE, ME, 2K, XO
Linux
Weight: 8 ounces
Dimensions: 5.4” x 3.2” x 0.8 (135mm X 81xx X 20mm)
Warranty: 90-days

Would I buy a WiebeTech “ComboGB Pocket Drive” Portable Disk Drive with FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2/1.1 Ports? MyMac.com has reviewed almost everything Wiebe has made since company inception, and we applaud their evolving stylistic development and technical prowess. This unit is no exception. With pocket drive competition heating up as downward price pressures help consumers, Wiebe’s competitive pricing is always attractive and responsive to the market.

For users who can take advantage of the three-port options and aren’t going to drop their precious pocket drive, our MyMac.com rating is a comfortable 4 out of 5. Hint #1: check the WiebeTech online store in a few months, for possible price reductions, based on our previous experience. Hint #2: the Pocket Drive enclosure can function as a “null” case, meaning the little hard drive can be replaced with another on an as-needed basis. Hint #3: different included drive capacities and prices are available within this product lineup.

 

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