Review Iomega eGo BlackBelt 1 TB FW 800 & USB 2.0 Mac Edition

Tobias Winkler (translated by Martina Osztovits), 02/14/2011

Mac-Specialist. The FireWire 800 interface is particularly important in the "Mac-World". If external devices shall be connected in an efficient way, it is the first choice there. We checked Iomega's BlackBelt on a Mac and on a PC.

All necessary cables are supplied
All necessary cables are supplied

Iomega is a manufacturer of storage devices with a long Mac-Tradition. Some might still remember the legendary ZIP-drives with removable media of 100 to 750 MB capacity, which nearly all Mac-users had. The eGo BlackBelt is a very interesting devices for Macs. Beside its black design with "protection belt" it attracts attention with its generous capacity of 1 TB.

Regarding interfaces it offers USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 (IEEE 1394b), the later even twice. The second FireWire 800 port allows a chain of drives - something only possible with FireWire. At the time of writing there is only one model of the eGo BlackBelt on offer. It's list price of 189.- Euro is not really low. However, it is available at about 130.- euro in online-shops.

Connectivity of the BlackBelt
Connectivity of the BlackBelt
Comparison of Windows alternatives
Comparison of Windows alternatives
FireWire 800 (IEEE1394b) chain connection
FireWire 800 (IEEE1394b) chain connection

Our tests are again performed on a number of already well known devices, e.g., HP ProBook 6540b, MacMini (GF9400), IOI FW 800 ExpressCard and MSI 880 GMA E-45 Mainboard. In addition a Digitus PCI FW400/ FW800 adapter, the Verbatim Store`n`go for Mac and the LaCie Quadra d2 1TB are added.

The case of the BlackBelt has a high-gloss black finish and a chrome-colored strip. The silicone belt somewhat prevents fingerprints, scratches, and most notably a slipping on slick surfaces. The rear houses the ports (1x Mini USB 2.0 und 2x FW800) and a small Status-LED. Unfortunately an additional power supply, which would allow a connection to 4-pin FW 400 interfaces (without dedicated power supply) on PCs, is missing.

On the Mac (Mac Os X 10.6) the Iomega eGo BlackBelt delivered its full performance and achieved a maximum of 79 MB/s at reading and even 83 MB/s at writing via FireWire 800. But, it also reached best results via USB 2.0 on the Mac, i.e., 36 MB/s at reading and writing. FireWire also allows chaining external devices. We tried it with three hard drives (LaCie d2 Quadra, BlackBelt, and Verbatim for Macs) and could not observe any performance losses. Even here the result of 80 MB/s convinced.

On the PC (Windows 7 HP 64 bit) it did not always work. E.g., the ExpressCard/34 FW800 from IOI on a HP ProBook 6540b did not offer enough power to start up the 1 TB hard drive of the BlackBelt, although we used an additional USB connection for power supply. Although it did work with 2x USB 2.0 the recorded result of 25.5 MB/s disappoints. While the transfer rate increased to 27.8 MB/s via USB-3.0, this is still far away from the performance on a Mac. The performance improves when connected to the 6-pin  FW400 Port of our Digitus PCI card. Here we record 35.4 MB/s and on the FW800 port the transfer rate increased to 63.7 MB/s. Although a chain connection works on the PC, the transfer rate drops to just under 37 MB/s at the end of the chain.

Verdict

On the Mac the Iomega eGo BlackBelt 1TB Mac Edition is at home and lives up to its name. The recorded transfer rates conform to the maximum of each interface and, so the performance convinces. A capacity of 1 TB is very good for a mobile device and should suffice many users for a long time. As it lacks alternatives in the Mac-world, the price is alright too. Otherwise you had to use the slower USB 2.0 interface.

The BlackBelt did also work under Windows, but many compromises have to be made. The power supply is not always sufficient, the performance of the interfaces is always lower by a few percent and, in comparison to eSata or USB 3.0 alternatives, the price performance ratio is clearly worse.

The bottom line is that the Iomega eGo Blackbelt 1 TB Mac Edition is designed for Mac users and very recommendable for them. It is also possible to use on a Windows PC, but with the mentioned restrictions. Those who mainly use Windows should better consider USB 3.0 or eSata models because of their better price-performance ratio.

In Review: Iomega eGo BlackBelt 1 TB
In Review: Iomega eGo BlackBelt 1 TB
The silicone belt protects the high-gloss finish from to many signs of wear and tear.
The silicone belt protects the high-gloss finish from to many signs of wear and tear.
USB 2.0 and 2x FW 800, but no additional power supply
USB 2.0 and 2x FW 800, but no additional power supply
Even a FW800 to FW400 cable is inside the box.
Even a FW800 to FW400 cable is inside the box.
1 TB capacity results in a bigger device,
1 TB capacity results in a bigger device,
which is still clearly handier than its 3.5" counterparts
which is still clearly handier than its 3.5" counterparts
Notebooks can be enhanced via ExpressCards, but, the device refused to work in our test.
Notebooks can be enhanced via ExpressCards, but, the device refused to work in our test.

Shortcut

What we like

Generous capacity, good Firewire 800 performance on the Mac, second FW 800 port for chaining.

What we'd like to see

Additionally, USB 3.0 or eSata.

What surprises us

That it costs that much more than comparable USB-3.0 drives

The competition

Seagate's GoFlex Series is very flexible and also available with FW800 adapter. Verbatim's Store`n`Go for Mac also offers USB 3.0, but, is only available with a maximum of 500 GB and does not offer a second FW 800 port.

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Iomega eGo BlackBelt 1 TB FW 800 & USB 2.0 Mac Edition
Author: Tobias Winkler, 2011-02-14 (Update: 2012-05-26)