Western Digital My Passport Studio Portable Hard Drive Review


There are many choices you can make in choosing portable back up that is right for you. Companies have been adding more bells and whistles to their basic drives to entice buyers into sticking to their product. The big names such as Seagate and Western Digital added lines with interchangeable docks and different software for data management. The other day we received a Western Digital My Passport Studio external hard drive which is unique that it boasts an e-ink external display which allows you to add custom labels and view the remaining capacity of the drive. Are these features worth the extra investment? Or is it just all frills? Stay tuned after the break to find out!


Western Digital is one of the most revered and and dependable hard drive manufacturers on the market today. Their various models of internal and external hard drives are proof of the company's strength and position in the market as one of the leading manufacturers. In the external hard drive arena, they are famous for their My Book desktop hard drives and their My Passport portable hard drives. There are a number of different drives in each line and each model has variations that may be beneficial to the consumer. Today we have the My Passport Studio, while not elite, is an external that would be ideal for media makers and Mac users on the go.


The box is simple, but inside there were a number of cables that showed the potential of this drive. The Studio has a MICRO USB connection as well as a single FW800 connection for "high" speed transfers. As a Mac user, I personally love the FW800 connection for higher speed transfers but appreciate the dual capabilities of this drive should I need to use it with a friend's PC. The version I got was a 500gb drive, and from experience I know that the Studio is slightly thicker than normal My Passports of the same capacity - no doubt due to the inclusion of the e-ink display. The Studio only comes in silver and white- which perfectly matches MacBooks and iMacs. Although it is not marketed as solely for the Mac line up - it makes for a nice companion.


Now before we get to the e-ink display, we must take note of the software included with this drive. The software is not on a CD but actually part of the hard drive itself. When you plug is your My Studio you will see the WD Smartware partition on the drive which contains programs that allow you to manage the drive. Within WD Smartware, you can change the label on your display, set up back up procedures for a "time machine" like effect, format, repair, or set up securities. The interface is friendly and easy to use. Changing labels was easy, and setting up security was a snap. The drive could be password protected - and the pop up requesting the password when you first plug in the drive is based on the WD Smartware software. This reviewer did not get to test out the automatic backup because this was not the intended use of this drive. While WD Smartware was friendly and easy to use, it was an annoying added feature that could not be done away with by formatting the drive. A shame because the added program prevented me from using this hard drive on my PS3 to view my saved media, and thus decreased the operational value of the drive down 40% in my book. This drive was tested on my MacBook Pro, and thus I cannot quite attest to the ease of use of this automatic program on windows based machines.

wd smartwave1.jpg

Now for the e-ink display - it was a very welcome addition to the utility of this portable hard drive. The display is perpetually on and does not require battery to use (or so it would seem). Users will find that as data transfers occur, the capacity of the drive is continually updated on the fly showing an accurate demonstration of the capacity of the drive every time you glance at it. The label as I mentioned earlier can be changed, and inverted but only displays a limited number of characters. The display is bright and doesn't fade over time and matches nicely with the rest of the drive.


Competitors for 500gb portable hard drives have products that go as low as $60 for a comparable drive. So is this one worth the $149 premium? It depends. If you are a user who needs to see the capacity of your drive on the fly without plugging the drive in - this might be a good buy for you. This drive is being targeted towards buyers who are professionals who need to do editing and their photo/media work on the go and thus need to be able to pick through a pile of these drives to use for their projects. So, while for the average consumer this might be a bit overkill...for the roaming professional, the My Passport Studio Drive might be the perfect back up for solution for projects on the go.