I have 5 of these drives. The 2 oldest are 1 ½ years old. Two are 3 months old. All have been trouble free. The fan is fairly quiet, but can be heard, as all fans can. I have my CDs ripped to them, in WMA lossless and MP3 320 bit rate. One is used daily as a primary external, 2 are used as on site back ups and the other 2 are for off site back ups. They are a good price and as dependable as any other hard drive. PC World as good comparisons if you want more info. I did see in a Best Buy ad, they now have a 750 gig on sale for $219. Mine are all 500 gig drives.
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The Seagate FreeAgent Desktop drives get good reviews from users at Newegg.com and are $129 for the 500GB model. I use a Seagate 7200.10 drive in my desktop and its very quiet there. Five year warranty and in my experience very reliable.
I've found Seagate to make great drives that are reliable and quiet. Western Digital (and others) also make great drives. It sounds like you're interested in an external drive, so consider getting an external enclosure. Macally and AMS make great (and quiet) enclosures. You can't go wrong with any of the combinations of what I've listed drive + enclosure.
I bought a Seagate drive in a Mercury Firewire enclosure from OWC this year. Here's their description of the drive model:
250GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA II 7200RPM 16MB W/ Perpendicular Drive Technology
It was one of the best computer buys I've made. The drive is fast and quiet and the price was low enough that even shipped to Canada it was a deal. I wouldn't hesitate to go back to OWC for another Seagate if I needed it.