Originally Posted by jb4
my real world experience 400 blows USB 2.0 away in consistent throughput
I agree....and 800 even more so!
Dell guy: problem with buying a "budget laptop" is you get budget components. Firewire 800 is more of a premium component. The hard drive enclosures that have FW 800 typically cost a fair chunk more too, but they're worth it in my opinion, if you're using the drive for backups or other purposes that involve large chunk-sized data transfers (for example, I just used mine to backup about 60GB and it took very little time).
one of the very nifty 'laptop/portable' external drive that just pulls 5v off of the port
This is exactly right. The thing that makes a portable hard drive so portable is not having to have a power supply or extra cable or whatever - and it's really nice to just slip a small and light drive into your laptop bag.
FWIW, this is the FW 800 one I have:
Oyen Digital: 2.5-inch 1394b FireWire 800, USB, eSATA External Hard Drive Enclosure
It has FW800, eSata, and USB 2.0. It was also $80. You can get a much cheaper one if you get FW400 instead of FW800 (only $50), but even that one is expensive compared to USB2.0 only enclosures. It's just a matter of how long you want to sit there and wait and how often you use it.
But with your laptop, you're stuck with FW400, and since you have the unpowered port, "stuck" even more so ):
But if you're looking for enclosures of any kind - keep in mind that cheaper is not always better!!! The super cheap enclosures use ****ty components and are prone to failure. I have a whole stack of them here. I don't buy them anymore (: