I just bought a "My Book" 250gb disk drive for my sister. She liked the look, and I will assume the title was friendly sounding.
Here are some observations on the design. Given the relatively high prices of these "Name" drives, I'm very disappointed.
The power On/Off button is a huge ~1" diameter circle on the side of the case. The case looks something like a textbook, and the on/off button is on the "spine" of the book.
The button requires VERY VERY little movement to turn it on or off, and it's not even inset. A slight brush against the side of the case is enough to trip the switch. Just pushing some wires from your laptop back against the button would be enough to do it too. Something you might do when adjusting your work area, setting your laptop computer down, etc.
Seeing as you MUST manually stop the drive using the "Safely Remove Hardware" tray icon, this is a huge exposure not only for the drive itself, but for your system as well. I have had a number of experiences with what happens when you turn off an external disk drive without first manually stopping it, up to and including Windows XP Pro. In my XP computers, recovery from this simple human error often means having to open my computer, reset the BIOS with the jumper, and then rebooting. Then you have to go back in and set all your BIOS settings back to the way they were before the problem. There is also potential for lost or corrupted data or filesystems.
This also means you could easily accidently turn the drive off while data are being transferred. You could of course also accidently turn the drive on when you did not intend to do so...thereby screwing up any PC power sequencing you may have going on.
In fact, I just set the drive down on the side with the button, and the button was pressed. It's that easy. I set it down on a dining room table that has a 1/8" pad underneath the tablecloth. Setting down on a hard surface doesn't seem to be a problem, but any somewhat soft surface at all and the switch is activated for you. Whether or not that's what you wanted.
The case is made of what seems to be a relatively cheap plastic. It is not acoustically dampened, and so EVERY little noise from the drive is amplified by the case side panels. Being plastic also means there is no contribution to drive cooling by the case material.
The case was unexpectedly of a design that is intentionally difficult to open, using "hidden" catches and such. At least one screw is hidden under a tamper-seal...a thin material that will be damaged if disturbed. Definitely not designed for the user who plans to change the disk later on. However, should you choose to do so, I've written up some instructions with images. http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/content/topic/65604/
Tapping the sides of the case showed the fit was pretty loose and the pieces "chattered" against each other. Another source of noise during operation.
There are two 1/8" wide x 4" long rubber strip "feet" on the bottom end of the drive. They were poorly attached with a weak adhesive...just about ready to fall off. These "feet" are also on the smallest area "end" of the drive, providing an extremely high center-of-gravity when the drive is stood on these feet. The drive easily falls over from that position.
The ONLY good piece of design work that I could find, was the amount of ventilation that they provide. They provide internal clearance on ALL sides of the drive. Air can freely circulate around the entire drive. In addition, 3 of the 4 case external side panels are thoroughly ventilated. However, standing the drive on the rubber "feet" side completely blocks an entire side of ventilation, leaving only 2 sides, at 90 degree relative positions. Generally speaking vents positioned 90 degrees relative to each other are not as effective as air flow from one end to another circulating over the entire drive.
Another thing...the drive comes with a bunch of ****ware, and an auto install that will start installing things if you have the auto-start feature active on your system.
It has a Google Toolbar and Desktop, and Adobe Acrobat...all stuff that can be obtained as freeware. There were no drive-specific or backup utilities on the drive I bought.
edited to add this temperature informatoin:
(ambient temp = 23C, all 3 ventilated sides are unobstructed)
42C = the internal hard drive case temp at IDLE
52C = the internal hard drive case temp after 5 minutes of file copying
WesternDigital's temperature specs for the WD2500JB drive:
Operating 5C to 55C
Non-operating -40C to 65C
Taking measurement error into consideration, this drive is effectively operating at or above the maximum operating temperature, which can cause data corruption and early drive failure.
It should be noted that most current 3.5" hard drives have a maximum operating temp in the 50C to 60C range, often being 55C. Many vendor external case designs produce similar high temperatures due to inadequate cooling. However, I expected the WD case to perform much better in this area and keep the drive cooler, so this was disappointing.
Edit to add:
It should be noted that while some of the reviews I've read suggest "MyBook" drives contain SATA drives, the "Essential Edition" version I just bought (which is supposed to be hardware identical to "Premium Edition" ) contained a WD2500JB PATA drive. (caviar/250gb/7200rpm/8mb cache/ATA-100) [I was shocked by W/D's choice to use a drive with an old and slow interface]
Using a program called "HD Speed"*, the read and burst-read rates were:
16mb/sec ~ read
15mb/sec ~ burst read
Note that the burst rate was actually lower than the average standard read rate. I would guess that's an artifact of running on USB. Every other time I've tested drives, the burst-read is higher than the standard-read. I didn't test the write rates, as those destroy data on the test drive...but they are usually a lot slower than the read rates.
I then removed the WD2500JB drive and tested it attached to an IDE channel, and the read rates were:
58mb/sec ~ read
72mb/sec ~ burst read
As can be seen the USB connection is roughly 4X slower than the IDE connection on the same physical drive. The IDE rates are consistent with other brand drives I've measured on this same system.
Test system: AMD Athlon64 3500+ 2.2GHz, 3gb RAM, WinXP Pro SP2.
*HDspeed 184.108.40.206 http://majorgeeks.com/HD_Speed_d1607.html
edit-add ATA-100 info to WD2500JB drive specs
edit-added a link to my 'How-To Open A "My Book" Disk Drive Case