External hard drives aren't exactly sexy, but the Western Digital Passport (160GB) with its glossy black finish gives it an appearance more akin to a desk ornament. Eye candy aside, the Passport is available in 80GB and 160GB sizes, using a relatively speedy 5400rpm platter. We tested the 160GB version. As far as hard drives of this capacity go, the Passport is a featherweight, only weighing in at 104.8g. A compact footprint makes it small enough to slip into a back pocket.
The Passport is powered entirely off USB, with a 50cm cable included in the package. Thankfully this is of the standard mini-USB variety - it's long enough to use with a notebook, but inadequate on a PC where the USB port is located on the back of the tower.
No drivers or special software are required to get the Passport and a PC talking - simply plug it in and you're off. WD Sync is an extra application bundled with the drive for synchronising files, Outlook data and machine-specific settings, making it easier to keep files and information consistent between PCs. It's not quite a backup program, but it offers similar functionality and is arguably more powerful.
Software from Google is also preloaded on the Passport, but unlike WD Sync, these programs don't run directly from the drive: they have to be installed separately on each PC it is connected to. Also, these applications are freely available from the Internet, so this offering doesn't add much value to the overall package. A sturdy construction makes the Passport a good travel companion, with a robust and reassuringly solid enclosure.
Pressing down on the casing doesn't produce any worrying creaks, and the USB port is hidden behind a rubber stopper so it doesn't get damaged in transit. Four rubber feet on the unit's underside also prevent it from being accidentally knocked off a desk.