In the Biblical context, beasts are often described as being fearsome creatures with multiple heads (and horns), iron teeth, sharp claws, wings, etc. Generally, one would not think of an encounter with a beast as anything remotely pleasant. In fact, the general advice for anyone coming face-to-face with one (biblical or otherwise) would be to turn and run…fast.

Just two days ago, I came into contact with a beast…and instead of it hunting me down, I was the one doing the hunting. For a really long time in fact. However, instead of a scaly skin and sharp claws, it had a smooth, cold, brushed metal skin (that was actually plastic).

You see, my old 250GB external hard disk was just about running out of space. Who would’ve thunk? Especially since 250GB seemed a LOT in those days (and cost as much too). To make matters worse, the drive and the casing was IDE…which for those in the know, gives you an idea how old it is.

Anyhow, then came the process of deciding whether to get an internal IDE drive to use with the casing, or to get one right-off-the-shelf. Problem was, the off-the-shelf types were all usually USB 2.0 (and more recently, e-SATA). The FireWire 400 drives were increasingly hard to find, not to mention the 800 variety. What’s more, the biggest capacity for IDE internal drives was 500GB…which I probably would have to replace really soon anyway. I was looking for one with at least a 2TB capacity, with FireWire 400/800 ports, and looked good (hey, it’s all about aesthetics).

The thing was, I knew Iomega had such a creature, but I never really trusted them. After all, they still listed the 3.5-inch floppy and ZIP disk/drive (anyone remember these?) on their website as current products…

I had also vaguely remembered seeing a Western Digital equivalent somewhere in the wild. But the sighting was so quick and fleeting that I wondered if I was imagining things…

Thus, armed only with my wits (oh, shut up) and a vague idea of what I was looking for, I scoured the tech-equivalent of Mordor — Sim Lim Square — where orcs disguised as salespeople try to devour you and then spit out your bones. However, that day, the orcs seemed rather tame…and the place was less chaotic. Oh right…it was day two of SITEX 2010.

I went about my business in relative peace, and explored a number of shops…but the elusive creature was nowhere to be found. There were a lot of imposters though. Finally, being tired, weary, and hungry, I decided to go back to my trusted source of all things Mac…the tech-equivalent of Gandalf. The wise oracle consulted her crystal ball, tea-leaves, the I-Ching and other what-not.

After a moment of suspense, she proclaimed that The Beast did indeed exist…and added that she could help me order one if I wanted.

Apparently, The Beast came in three sizes…The not-so-beastly Beast, The Beast, and The Super-Ultimate-Mother-Of-All-Beasts…

I kind of felt like Goldilocks making a decision which bowl of porridge to have, or which bed to lie in.

The “mini” Beast was only 1TB (and not all that fearsome), while the SUMOAB (an awe-inspiring 4TB) was too expensive. So, just like Goldilocks — and civil servants deciding which quote to select on GeBiz — I chose the middle option. However, The Beast was not immediately available, and the oracle would have to wait for her supplier.

Fast-forward to two days ago…I got a call from the oracle saying that The Beast had arrived. Since I was on leave, I went down to pick it up…and when I took it out of the box, that was when it struck me that it was really a beast. It is bigger than any other external hard disk I had ever seen…and just looked awesome, especially with the FireWire 800 ports behind. The only thing that can probably better it is the 4TB one…

The Beast within its confines

The Beast…unleashed

the back of The Beast

a closer look…

front view

it’s alive!

…and even as I type, The Beast sits on my desk and breathes…its front LED panel glowing in the semi-darkness.

Update 1 — apparently, there’s a bug which causes the Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II to unmount automatically and eject itself randomly…when used with FireWire and a Mac. You’ve been warned.

Update 2 — the day after I hooked up The Beast, my Maxtor One Touch Plus 750GB decided to die in shame. Nice.