by Kevin OBrien

Western Digital My Passport Studio Review (2TB)

WD has been in rapid fire mode this year when it comes to refreshing and bumping capacities on their popular line of My Passport and My Passport Studio portable hard drives. The newly increased in capacity (and girth) My Passport Studio picks up on the new design deployed earlier this year in the 1TB My Passport Studio. The 2TB portable drive uses the same all metal body that is both stylish and functional and provides users with dual FireWire 800 ports and a single USB 2.0 port for compatibility.

The 2TB WD My Passport Studio comes with a 2 year warranty. WD includes software solutions to help manage the drive including WD Drive Utilities, which handles diagnostics and other drive management duties, and WD Security for applying a password to the drive. The drive is shipping now with an MSRP of $299.

WD My Passport Studio Specs

  • Interface - Dual FireWire 800, USB 2.0
  • 2TB Capacity - WDBS8P0020BBK
  • Dimensions  1" x 5" x 3.3"
  • Weight 0.80 Pounds
  • Operating 5° C to 35° C
  • Non-operating -20° C to 65° C
  • Formatted HFS+ Journaled
  • No external power required
  • 2 year warranty

Build and Design

As noted in the intro, the My Passport Studio not only looks great, but it feels rock solid too. While not ruggedized per se, the CNC-machined aluminum case will surely handle the daily bumps and bruises just fine, keeping the drive inside nice and secure. When trying to twist and bend the case, there's no give at all, and squeaking or parts rubbing together.

WD has used a two-tone design, with a black top that inlays over the ports on the rear of the drive. The sides and bottom are "Apple silver." The bottom of the drive has four near-flush rubber feet and the requisite drive certification information and black serial number sticker that sits in a recessed area.

The back of the drive contains the two FireWire 800 ports, USB 2.0 port and white/blue activity light. The USB port is actually a Micro-USB connection on the drive, a nice touch since most users have done away with dated mini-USB cords. It's a small thing for sure, but we still see new drives released with old interface designs.

A metal caddy secures the drive and added PCB which contains the ports. Removing six more screws releases the drive from the caddy. As an interesting aside, the whole process is very simple, the My Passport Studio may be one of the rare cases where users could swap out the drive pretty easily for something else, perhaps a higher performance Scorpio Black, if they so choose.

While most external hard drives have measures taken to make sure users won't tamper with the drive inside, the My Passport Studio is almost begging to be taken apart with four Torx screws exposed on the bottom of the case. Removing those four screws lets the case fall into two halves and reveals a custom 15mm tall 2TB WD20NPVT Scorpio Blue hard drive inside.

Compared to the 1TB My Passport Studio, with a 12.7mm drive inside, the new 2TB model sits slightly higher. If you didn't have the two models side by side, you would probably never be able to tell the difference unless someone pointed it out.

Performance

To measure performance of the 2TB Western Digital My Passport Studio, we ran Xbench on it while having it connected to a MacBook Pro over FireWire 800. We measured sequential speeds of 65MB/s read and 66MB/s write, which was just under the limit of FW800 potential. For comparison the USB 3.0 model targeted at Windows-users offered transfers speeds of 109MB/s read and write.

Software

WD includes two simple software packages with the 2TB My Passport Studio. WD Drive Utilities handles diagnostics and other drive management duties. Users can run three drive tests ranging for a simple check of SMART data to a more robust full mediascan that checks for bad sectors on the drive. 

Users can also manage the sleep settings for the drive, from never to 10, 15, 30 and 45 minutes. WD includes a drive erase function and a simple product registration form with three form fields to complete. 

The other included application is WD Security, which lets users specify a password required to access the data on the drive; this is especially handy for portable drives. Also handy is the bright red warning from WD, "WD cannot retrieve your password. If you forget your password, you will permanently lose access to your data." 

Once you accept the warning with the check box and remember to specify a hint, you can also enable auto unlock for the drive to prevent having to enter the password every time the drive is connected.

Conclusion

When we looked at the lower-capacity My Passport Studio last year, we loved the redesign, which included a super durable machined alloy body and attractive two-tone finish. The latest version bumps the capacity offering up to 2TB, adding only a few millimeters of additional thickness for twice the storage capacity. We did notice a performance drop on this model compared to the 2TB USB 3.0 version aimed at Windows-users, but for moving media around or using the drive as additional backup storage, 65-66MB/s sequential read and write speeds will still be more than sufficient. For additional compatibility, the case also includes a USB 2.0 port, for connecting to systems without a FireWire connection. When combined with the software tools to manage the drive and the excellent build quality and design, it's hard not to recommend this external drive to users in need of extra storage capacity.

Pros

  • Great design and fantastic build quality
  • USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 interfaces
  • Large 2TB storage capacity

Cons

  • Slower transfer speeds than USB 3.0 version

Bottom Line

In a storage market where most external 2.5-inch drives cap out at 1TB, Western Digital raises the bar with a 2TB solution. Combined with an excellent case design and easy to use software, the 2TB Western Digital My Passport Studio is a great option for users running low on space.

WD My Passport at Amazon.com

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