Toshiba Canvio for Mac

In a crowded hard drive market, Toshiba‘s Canvio for Mac portable hard drive is remarkable more for its exterior design than its speed. With solid all-around speed, this USB 2.0 drive competes with Iomega‘s eGo (Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice) and Seagate FreeAgent goFlex Ultra-Portable (Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice), but does nothing to surpass them.

The Canvio offers 1TB of storage space in a small cigarette-like case. Like many portable drives, it comes in different colours–namely white or silver. A grip extends around the 13.5mm width, and this aesthetic choice, along with the simplistic square art on the box, are the only details differentiating the 6-ounce device from other similarly-styled drives. It’s light, it can fit in your pocket, and it’s only slightly larger than an iPhone.

The drive is formatted out of the box with HFS+. Toshiba offers the NTI Shadow 5 software for customizable synchronization and specific backup–it’s a more robust offering than Time Machine, which is also compatible with the drive. The Canvio also comes with password protection software, 256-bit data encryption, and a three-year warranty.

On our 2GB folder read test, the Canvio was only slightly slower than the Iomega Skin (Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice) and eGo Blackbelt (Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice), coming in at 30.8MBps compared to their class-best scores of 31.3MBps. The Canvio was on par with both Iomega portable models in our 2GB folder write test but fell behind the G-Drive Mobile USB (Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice) and G-Drive Slim’s (Macworld rated 3.5 out of 5 mice) 37.7MBps scores.

The Canvio’s results with our large zip file were similar to its results in our 2GB folder test. In both cases, the drive was more competitive in reading and less competitive in writing. The Canvio’s read score was 32.8MBps, only slightly off the category leader Iomega Skin’s score of 33.3MBps. Unfortunately, the 37MBps write score was one of the slower scores we found in the portable drive category. The AJA tests confirm that the drive is faster on reading than on writing.

The best news for Toshiba and the user is that the Canvio’s low memory Photoshop results were the best we’ve tested, on par with the G-Drive Mobile 500GB and Iomega eGo 1TB. This means that among portable drives, the Toshiba is one of the best to use as a scratch disk. So for audio-visual fans who need performance and portability, the Canvio may be a solid option.

At $.12 per gigabyte, the Toshiba Canvio Plus is actually pretty cheaply priced, making it an attractive alternative to some of the pricier Western Digital, Iomega, and Seagate products.

Macworld’s buying advice

The Toshiba Canvio for Mac offered us mixed results in our performance tests. Its read speeds were competitive and its ability to handle demanding tasks (as proven by our Photoshop test) may give users reason to favor it over similarly priced and speedy drives. While it won’t stand out from the crowd, the dedication to the Mac community and the additional Mac backup software means that every Mac storage fan at least owes Toshiba’s line a look.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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