Imation Pro WX 1.5TB Wireless USB

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
February 24, 2010
Manufacturer
Imation
Product Page
Pro WX
Views
37290
Imation Pro WX 1.5TB Wireless USB
The Imation Pro WX may be the first Wireless USB device that isn't a USB hub, but its high price keeps us from recommending it.

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Page 1
Introduction

Wireless USB is shaping up to be on the path that Bluetooth was in at the early days. It is a pretty good technology for connecting multiple peripherals and seems to have industry support. What's the problem? Lack of consumer products and lack of UWB (Ultra Wide Band, the technology behind Wireless USB) being built into computers. This is a chicken and the egg problem. Wireless USB still isn't built into the modern OS kernels today, Linux support is awful. Windows and Mac get by with third party drivers made by the companies. Still, there is a common Wireless USB standard and, just like Bluetooth before it, it will come to mature in the market eventually. Imation sees the benefits enough to release the Imation Pro WX 1.5TB Wireless USB. They also thought of Linux users by including a standard USB2 port for connectivity as well.

About Imation

Quote

Imation is a leading global developer and marketer of branded products that enable people to capture, save and enjoy digital information.

Our world-class portfolio of digital storage products, audio and video electronics, and accessories reaches customers through a powerful global distribution network. The goal is a company with strong commercial and consumer businesses and continued long-term growth and profitability that creates shareholder value.

Imation Corp.'s global brand portfolio, in addition to the Imation brand, includes the Memorex brand, one of the most widely recognized names in the consumer electronics industry, famous for the slogan, "Is it live or is it Memorex?" and the XtremeMac brand, the top name in innovative accessories for iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV. Imation is also the exclusive licensee of the TDK Life on Record brand, one of the world's leading recording media brands.

http://www.imation.com/en-us/About-Imation/Company-Information/


Packaging

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The Imation retail packaging is a dark blue with red and white accents. It is snazzy enough to catch your attention on the retail shelf. Imation is one of the few brands that are carried at nearly every major electronic store (ie; Best Buy, etc).

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Opening up the box yields a nice packaging arrangement. It is always good to see a company go a bit farther when presenting the product to you for the first time. First impressions can't be changed.

Specifications

  • CAPACITIES: 1.5TB
  • SIZE: 7.09" x 1.77" x 5.43" (180 mm x 45 mm x 138 mm)
  • COMPATIBILITY: Windows® XP/Vista Mac OS 10.4 and above
  • SOFTWARE: Memeo® Instant Backup Software Windows®7/XP/Vista
  • STATUS INDICATOR: Power on/off/sleep Mode
    Data Transfer Activity
    Capacity Gauge
    Wireless Mode
  • INTERFACE: USB 2.0 (1.1 compatible)
  • POWER SUPPLY: External power supply (100-240 V, 50/60 Hz)
  • WARRANTY: 3 years limited
  • Amazon Link


Page 2
Package Contents

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Imation includes a few items besides the WUSB hard drive and literature with software. You get a USB A-B cable, the AC adapter, a USB extension adapter, the WUSB dongle, and the power cord.

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The USB extension adapter is a nice addition to the package. Since the WUSB dongle is so big, it might on fit in some cramped USB ports. Imation mitigates this by including a small extension that swivels and tilts to accommodate tight spaces. We like little extras like this included in a package. It shows that the company pays attention to the fringe cases.

Pro WX

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The Imation Pro WX is black with silver feet and a white face. The antenna is small and compact and can be shifted downward to minimize the look of the unit. As it stands, the Pro WX is an easy fit on most desktops. People that have limited space will probably keep this closer to the floor, or in another area with the wireless support built into the unit itself.

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The back of the unit contains the USB2 port and the AC adapter port. The small button is for pairing the unit to WUSB host devices. Since Wireless USB requires pairing, the standard tries to make it easier to pair a device than Bluetooth. We still aren't there yet. There is an active cooling solution in the form of a small fan that is audible, but not overly loud while in use.

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The front of the unit contains the power button and the backup button. The backup button sends a signal to the backup software (useful only in Windows/Mac) to start a backup of whatever you want. While the unit is on, the bottom light is lit. Just plugging the unit in means the Imation logo at the top stays on all the time. The light isn't overly strong, so it won't interfere with your work like some really bright LEDs would.

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Imation needs to be commended on their use of built-in feet for the Pro WX. We've seen countless companies cheap out on design and use a plastic piece to hold the unit upright. Imation goes a step further and integrates the feet into the unit. They are solid and makes the unit feel more well made than a competing unit. The feet can retract if you want to lay the unit down on the desk as well.

Page 3
Use

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The Pro WX is formatted with NTFS for Windows. Mac users will probably want to format the drive to something that a Mac will be able to handle more easily. Linux users will probably do the same, but NTFS is supported very nicely by FUSE and we had no problems reading and writing to the drive using NTFS. Out of the box, 1.36TB are usable on the drive. The internal drive is a Seagate 7200.11 1.5TB drive. The use of a Seagate drive is comforting since Seagate makes excellent drives. NTFS over FUSE was nearly the same speed as formating the drive to EXT4, so there is no need to worry about that.

We would have loved to test the Pro WX in Wireless USB mode, but since Linux doesn't support this chipset, we can't. Besides, the wireless support is stated to be 15MB/s which is nearly half the speed of the wired USB2. Wireless USB supports speeds analogous to USB2, though. We aren't sure why this would be the case. Using USB2, read speeds easily saturated the USB2 bus at about 33MB/s. Writes were much slower at 12MB/s. It could be that the mass storage controller is at fault for the slow writes, but USB2 is generally pretty intensive for block data transfer. Since the drive is a Seagate 7200.11, it shouldn't be the bottleneck which leads us to the USB2 controller.

We voiced our concern over the lack of Linux support, but we really can't fault Imation for this. It is the entire hardware community that is at fault. Give the community a working implementation and merge it into the kernel and let the community run with it. Still, WUSB is not as mainstream for people to be pushing for general kernel inclusion.

Conclusion

The Imation Pro WX Wireless USB hard drive retails for a »very expensive $450 at the time of posing. Even though the Pro WX shows that the money is being put into the details, we just can't justify the ultra premium price for the unit. Let's go through the bundle, piece by piece. The Wireless USB dongle with a Wireless USB hub goes for about $100. The Seagate 7200.11 1.5TB drive retails for about $120. The USB hard drive enclosure goes for about $30 and a really good one for $50. We're talking about something you can do on your own for about $250. We think the choice is clear. While we applaud the product design and build quality in general, we cannot recommend a purchase at this price.

Still, we're happy to see companies test the waters with new products and at least Imation is stepping up to the plate to provide a Wireless USB enclosure. This is probably the first device to come on the market for Wireless USB that wasn't a wired hub. Kudos to Imation are in order. Keep pushing the envelope. Just bring down the price and we'll be the first to recommend it.

We'd like to thank Imation for making this review possible.

Comments

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