Sony HD-SG5 review

Sony may be pulling out of the PC market, but it still makes some attractive peripherals and accessories for Macs and PCs, such as its new HD-SG5 portable hard drive.

Measuring just 8.7mm thick, the SG5 is one of the slimmest portable drives we’ve seen so far – in comparison, Western Digital’s My Passport Slim measures a relatively chunky 12.3mm. The SG5 also weighs just 130g, so you can easily slip it into a bag or even into a jacket pocket when you’re ready to go out with your MacBook.

It’s also more sturdy than many of its portable rivals, thanks to an aluminium casing that provides good protection for the internal 2.5-inch drive mechanism. The model we tested had a silvery-grey brushed metal finish that went well with our MacBook Air, but the SG5 is also available in plain black if you prefer a more subdued look.

Our only minor complaint about the design is that – as with a number of portable drives that we’ve seen recently – the status light on the SG5 is tucked right at the back of the drive for some reason. This means that you can’t really see it unless you turn the drive right around and have the USB cable sticking forward rather untidily.

See also: Storage reviews

There’s only one version of the SG5 available at the moment, with 500GB storage priced at around £75. That’s a little above average for a 500GB drive, but it’s not too expensive and the light, slimline design is worth paying a little extra for.

The drive is formatted in the Windows NTFS format, but it only took us a few seconds to reformat it using Disk Utility on our Mac. It’s equipped with a single USB 3.0 interface, which, of course, is also compatible with USB 2.0. The BackUp Manager software that Sony includes with the drive only runs on Windows PCs, but Mac users can use Time Machine for back-ups if they want. We were more interested in the Data Transfer Accelerator software, which Sony claims can improve performance when using the drive with a USB 2.0 interface. Unfortunately, that’s Windows-only as well, so owners of older Macs will just have to settle for standard USB 2.0 speeds.

In any event, the SG5 isn’t really a top performer even when using USB 3.0. It achieved a consistent 100MB/s for both read and write performance in tests with both small and larger file sizes. That’s a little slower than some of the portable drives we’ve tested recently – which typically manage speeds of around 110MB/s – but it’s by no means disastrous, so the SG5 can certainly be used for routine back-ups on a MacBook.

OUR VERDICT

If performance is your main priority then there are faster – and more expensive Thunderbolt and SSD drives available. However, the slimline design of the SG5 is both attractive and practical, and it’ll be a particularly good choice for owners of the MacBook Air who want a really portable back-up drive that they can carry around with them.

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