The benefits of the USB 3.0 interface are certainly noticeable, although the Western Digital My Book 3.0 1TB's premium price will deter price sensitive punters.

The Western Digital My Book 3.0 1TB has the same glossy black book-like casing as Western Digital's other current My Book external hard drives. Unfortunately, it has neither the My Book Elite's eInk display nor the Essential's capacity gauge. Instead, the My Book 3.0 has a simple white indicator light. Although attractive, it is not all that useful.

The main draw of the Western Digital My Book 3.0 1TB is its SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface, which manages to break it free from the speed bottlenecks faced by current USB 2.0 external hard drives.

Since the hard drive used internally is itself limited to a theoretical maximum data transfer speed of 3Gbps and even then has to contend with its own speed being lower than that, the Western Digital My Book 3.0 1TB won't quite max out a USB 3.0 connection. In real world operation, we saw speed increases of about three times those of USB 2.0 drives that we have tested in the past.

Like other external drives based on 3.5 inch (desktop) hard drives, the Western Digital My Book 3.0 1TB is sleek yet much thicker than USB HDDs based on 2.5-inch (laptop) hard disk drives. As with all external drives based on a desktop HDD, an extra power cable is required in addition to the USB data cable.

The USB data cable used is slightly different from those we are accustomed to - the connector on the PC side looks like a normal USB connector though a bit longer, and the connector on the hard-drive side is thin and keyed, you cannot interchange this cable with any other USB device you have, so make sure to keep the cable safe if you buy this drive. There is a button at the back which needs to be pressed to switch the drive on. The casing is passively cooled through the top, which makes for quiet operation. However, the Western Digital My Book 3.0 1TB drive is audible when it operates over the USB 3.0 interface.

There aren't many PCs that currently have USB 3.0 connections, but the connector is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 (the My Book 3.0 will simply fall back to a slower speed). Just a few top-end laptops and desktop motherboards support the latest USB speeds. We received a boxed bundle that includes the external hard drive itself and also a PCI-Express adaptor card that provides two USB 3.0 ports for your desktop PC. You won't get any bundled software with the Western Digital My Book 3.0 1TB, only the USB 3.0 drivers and electronic manuals are on the accompanying CD.