The 500GB Buffalo DriveStation Combo 4 unit contains the usually reliable 7,200rpm Samsung Spinpoint internal drive.

The market for external storage - like the capacities of the drives themselves - is expanding. Is consumer demand driving technological development or vice versa? Hard to say, but each month seems to bring a new crop of devices in varying configurations, and with equally varied selling points. The Buffalo DriveStation Combo 4 is a case in point.

In terms of design, the DriveStation Combo 4 looks like a Mac, with aluminium casing and a curved stand. This is undermined by the slightly tacky looking front panel, which is backlit blue when the unit is turned on.

What really matters with any external hard disk is the contents of the case, and the 500GB Buffalo DriveStation Combo 4 unit supplied for testing had the usually reliable 7,200rpm Samsung Spinpoint internal drive, together with the electronics to convert the disk's SATA connection to the external ones: 1x mini USB 2.0, 1x 6-pin Firewire 400 (IEEE1394a) 2x FireWire 800 (IEEE1394b), and 1x eSATA connector. Of these, all but the eSATA had a cable supplied.

Incidentally, we were surprised to see that the DriveStation Combo 4 drive had a mini USB downstream port, much like those used on some external Flash card readers and cameras, as cables with this type of connector can be more difficult to source than standard ones, should you ever need to replace the one supplied by Buffalo.

Like many external hard disks, the DriveStation Combo 4 arrives formatted using the Master Boot Record partition map scheme, and with the volume format MS-DOS (FAT) - well suited to use with a Windows PC.


For anyone looking for an easy-to-configure backup volume, the Drive Station Combo 4 fits the bill nicely. Those needing industrial-strength backup should consider investing in a mirrored RAID system, however.