Apricorn EZ Bus Mini, Apricorn EZBus Mini Apricorn EZ Bus Mini 40 gig Apricorn EZ Bus Mini 60 gig

Just when you think you found the perfect mini hard drive to take on the road for backing up your photos, Apricorn comes up with something even better.....

Last year, after extensive field use (and abuse) I reviewed Apricorn's EZ BUS Mini. Click here for that review I love that little unit and it's still running strong; even after it took a dive out of my camera case and onto a bustling street in Calcutta. Let me digress for a moment and explain what happened……The zippered compartment of my camera case, where I store my EZ Bus mini had come open, and when I flipped open my camera case the EZ Bus Mini flew out, fell three feet to the ground, hit the concrete curb and skidded out into traffic. Thankfully, I was able to grab it before it was run over by a cab, but I was genuinely worried if it had actually survived. With some trepidation, I plugged it in when I got back to my hotel. To my surprise and delight, it fired up and it worked like a champ.

Anyway, this review is about the new Aegis Mini, so let me begin:

I started using the Aegis mini in July (2006). Since then, it's been on assignment with me in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar (Burma) and Cambodia, which is to say that it's been subjected to plenty of abuse already, including high heat and humidity and lots of "travel" in my backpack, camera case and pocket.

I feel comfortable doing this "review" now that I have used this device for more than 3 months straight. (Please note that many reviews are done by opening the box, plugging it in, and testing download speeds etc. While these types of reviews are important, this review is more about a real world scenario).

Well, let me be among the first to say that Apricorn has gone one step further, and has improved upon the already excellent EZBus mini! This new Aegis Mini Ultra portable hard disk drive is even better!

Left: the older EZ bus Mini (black) Center: the new Aegis Mini (silver)

The name Aegis comes from Classical Mythology. Aegis was the shield or breastplate of Zeus or Athena, the words meaning is: "protection or support"….an appropriate name for this great new product.

The Aegis Mini is a tiny 1.8-inch (4,200rpm) hard disk drive that's perfect for someone like me to whom space and weight are of utmost concern. The new Aegis is even smaller than the EZBus Mini! The Dimensions are 2.7 by 0.7 by 3.4 inches (WHD); 0.3 pounds, slightly smaller than the earlier EZ Bus Mini (see photo above).

The Aegis Mini comes with an integrated cable, a padded pouch, a quick-start guide, and a software CD. Plug this little baby into your PC or Mac, and start using it instantly. The Aegis Mini is available in USB and FireWire versions $159 for the 30GB USB version and $239 for the 60GB USB version.

There are lots of technical specs and "software" features which you can read about in technical reviews, or on the Apricorn website, but what's important to me as a photojournalist who travels constantly and needs equipment that will stand up to some pretty tough assignments is how well it works in the field and how durable it is.

Apart from its diminutive size, probably the most important feature about the Aegis Mini is its 16-point omni directional shock mounting system. I have in the past taken hard drives out of old laptops and made my own external drives by purchasing external USB enclosures. Of course most of these USB enclosures are very simple and do not have any shock-absorbing features. The folks at Apricorn took the Aegis Mini and secured its Hitachi hard drive in a shock mounting system….something that helps me breath easier.

With 60 gigs of important photos backed up on this little drive, it's comforting to know about the shock mounting system.

For those of you considering the purchase of or currently carrying or considering the purchase of a 2.5 inch drive, remember that the 1.8 inch configuration uses less power than the 2.5 inch drive, so where a 1.8 inch drive like the Aegis mini will run comfortably on the USB port's output without the need for an additional power supply or complicated 2 into 1 USB cable, a 2.5 inch drive may not!

As mentioned in my review of the EZ Bus mini, I always worry about being held up by thugs during my long overseas assignments to those "not so safe places", or being relieved of all my stuff at some road block in some place like Haiti Afghanistan or Sudan by some underpaid, less than scrupulous, military or government personnel...so, I carry a copy of all my digital photos on the Aegis Mini, in my shirt or pants pocket. If I feel like things are getting dicey, I move the EZ Bus Mini down into my underwear. Since the Aegis mini is so small, even during many "pat downs" no one has ever noticed it!

In terms of service and support: The Aegis Mini comes with a one-year warranty; toll-free phone support and e-mail support via an online form at Apricorn's Web site. Click here for a link to the specs in PDF format

Think the EZBus mini is a bit expensive? maybe so; but what's the value of 60 gigs worth of images that you just spent 3 hard-core weeks in the field to get ?

One final note: All you photographers, photojournalists and people traveling....please also note that during my travels the Aegis mini, (which contains a backup copy of all the images on my computer) is either on my person, locked up with my Pacsafe or secured in a hotel safe. An no time does the Aegis mini and the computer occupy space in the same bag. This way, if, God forbid, my computer bag was stolen, or the Aegis mini, I would still have one copy of all my images.

You can Buy the Aegis Mini at Amazon.com

I give the new Aegis Mini two big thumbs up. Bravo Apricorn, you've outdone yourselves...again !