Western Digital today announced an update to its lineup external hard drives: the My Passport Essential, My Passport Essential SE and My Book Essential. The smallest drive in the lot, the My Passport Essential, offers 500GB of storage in a portable 2.5-inch form factor, while the My Passport Essential SE ups the ante with 750GB and 1TB flavors. Meanwhile, on the desktop front, Western Digital is matching Seagate's latest GoFlex Desk offering with a similarly priced 3TB My Book Essential unit.

All three models are USB 3.0-equipped and come bundled with the company's SmartWare software, which performs automatic and continuous backup tasks. They are also backwards-compatible with USB 2.0, of course, and support both Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. The drives will be available at retailers and Western Digital's own online store starting at $100 for the 500GB My Passport Essential, $139 and $170 for the 750GB and 1TB My Passport Essential SE, and $250 for the 3TB My Book - though it's available in 1 and 2TB versions as well. Internally, the latter uses a WD Caviar Green drive which will be available shortly as a standalone product according to the company.