S1000U – Hitachi SimpleTech SimpleDrive 1TB Turbo USB 2.0 External Hard Drive

Simpletech is a very innovative and one of the leading manufacturers of virtually all types of storage and networking solutions. The company’s new range of uniquely designed portable hard drives is just another example for the company’s flamboyance for creating a product that not just serves the purpose that its name indicates by also has a development in its looks, with style being considered as one of the major factors in this era of portable hard drives.

We all have to agree to the adage “Too much is never enough”, especially when it comes to hard drive storage. We have digital cams that spit out images of multi-mega bytes and we also have the digital video that chomp up GBs of storage space in just one shot and so it is never a big surprise when you hit the limits of your hard drive. The only answer to this dilemma is high capacity hard disks like the one Hitachi’s SimpleTech offers, the SimpleDrive S1000U 1TB Turbo USB 2.0 External Hard Drive. It is a basic external hard drive that comes bundled with back-up software. We will have a detailed look on this hard drive in the following review.

Designed by Pininfarnia:

While many of the manufactures offer with only a designer styled “like” drives, SimpleTech’s S1000U 1TB external hard drive is designed by the legendary design company Pininfarnia, designer of the Ferraris. The drive has a very sleek, sportive, aerodynamic looking unit that is tampered in the sides and the side of the device has markings that suggest the word forward motion. This slim beauty has its dimensions to be (H x W x D) 1.5″ x 5″ x 8.25″. In short, the device resembles a button-less telephone answering machine.  The device has a large oval button mounted in the facia of the drive that is surrounded by a capacity meter ring which constitutes of 4 LEDs. This large SimpleTech logo doubles as a one touch backup button which works only when paired with the supplied software.

Interface:

This version of SimpleDrive offers only USB connectivity and another version called SimplDrive Deluxe will be offering both USB and FireWire combo. In the rear you will find the USB port and the power jack. The device looks as glossy as a hood of freshly waxed Ferrari. On the bottom of the unit are two plastic strips that give the SimpleDrive a very good grip, preventing it from sliding off of tilted surfaces.

Capacities and colours available:

The Hitachi SimpleTech  S1000U 1TB Desktop Drive comes in five different capacities such as, 250GB, 320GB, 500GB, 750GB and 1TB.

No engineering brilliance required:

As most of the portable hard drives in the current market, this drive too does not need any complicated set up procedures. All that you have to do is, just connect the drive to your PC using the USB cable, plug in and power on the electrical outlet that is it. And this simple set-up is usually described in the storage industry as Plug and Play. The drive is hot-swappable meaning that it can be removed from the computer after disabled from the “Safely Remove Hardware” application.

By default, the device has been formatted with the NTFS file system for Windows, so it has to be reformatted with Apple’s Disk utility before using it with the Leopards Time Machine Backup application.

Basic features:

The SimpleTech SimpleDrive S1000U 1TB drive runs on a 3.5” hard drive with a spindle speed of 7200rpm and 16MB cache. All Hitachi SimpleDrives come with a single external hard drive, so if you want RAID capability, look elsewhere.

The all-important software bundle:

In spite of the obvious attention paid to the hard drive’s appearance, SimpleTech kept function as well as form in mind, the S1000U 1TB drive comes preloaded with the ArcSoft Total Media Backup and Record software. You have to install them manually by double clicking over it, as the software does not get installed on its own. The software works in conjunction with the one click back-up button.

The ArcSoft Total Media Backup offers a very clean and easy to use interface in order to set up the backup files. They can be chosen by category, file types, or even by using advanced tab you can pick up the individual files and folders. The back-up target can be set as either the SimpleDrive or a CD or DVD burner. Back-ups can be either onetime events or scheduled to occur at regular intervals and each of such backups can be either full time or incremental. By incremental we mean having a back-up of only the changed and the new files. Keep in mind that the ArcSoft Total Media Backup software can backup only the files and folders and will not be able to create a bootable backup of your OS or make a backup of the system settings, the way you will be able to do with the EMC Retrospect Software that we saw in the Western Digital MyBook. However, Windows users will be able to use the program to burn music and data discs. Once you have completed all these backup preset processes, the top-mounted backup button will initiate the backup sequence.

Capacity Meter:

We had mentioned that there is a capacity meter surrounding the power button, this will show a rough estimate of the remaining storage available. Out of the four LEDs each LED represents 25 percent of total storage. When the drive is installed for the first time, the ring will be fully lit and as the capacity decreases, the meter in the ring will also decrease. And when the capacity drops below ten percent, the ring will flash red when it is powered on at first. The array of lights also flash and chase each other around the circle when a copying operation is under progress. This feature is a real boon for the novice users as they will know for sure when to unhook their drive.

Free online storage:

Hitachi’s SimpleTech offers you 2GB of free storage account with Myfabrick.com which is an online storage service. You get this complement with each SimpleDrive and if you ever feel that 2GB is not enough, you can buy additional space for a very low cost. With this account, you can upload your files to the site’s servers and so, you will be able to access them from anywhere on earth and they can also be tagged, organised and shared among your friends and relatives. Yet another feature available is that, if you already have photos in Flickr, the Myfabric account can be linked to your Flickr account and from then on, the Myfabric account will grab the files automatically.

Performance:

The performance of the drive is decent, but has some speed issues. This Hitachi SimpleTech SimpleDrive S1000U 1TB drive takes about 9.22 minutes to write a 10GB folder with mixed filed types, which gives a rate of 18.23Mbps and takes around 8.35 minutes to read back the same folder at a rate of 19.89Mbps. When the size of the files are reduced, the performance gets weaker, the drive takes 48 seconds to copy 1GB to the drive and 1.18 minutes to duplicate 1GB in the drive.

With these speeds, the drive puts a tough fight to its rivals, the Seagate FreeAgent Pro with USB interface and way past LaCie d2 Quadra drive.  And the drive edged out the other more expensive drives like OWC Mercury Elite AL Pro 1TB and the WiebeTech RTX100-SJ 1TB. Though we cannot say that the drive has lighting speeds, it will be fine for most of the casual users.

Artistic package:

The package of the drive itself is very artistic. The drive is kept in an angle in the showcase like plastic enclosure. There is a decent list of some of the SimpleDrive’s more technical features listed on the back of the packaging in multiple languages, while the front keeps it simple with easy to understand “real world” figures like the number of songs or pictures the SimpleDrive is capable of storing.

Warranty and Support:

SimpleTech backs up its SimpleDrive S1000U 1TB Turbo USB drive with one year warranty. You also get toll free support on weekdays from 6.30am to 5.30pm and they also offer you with live chat help and email tech support from the SimpleTech web site. You also get FAQs, downloadable software, drives, tips for trouble shooting and manuals from the site.

Verdict:

The SimpleDrive S1000U 1TB Portable USB hard drive is a very simple device to use with an awesome design. The included backup software makes the tasks of backup simple to setup and the free online storage feature account is a great inclusion and very tempting too. At the price at which the drive is offered, it is a real bargain as the LaCie d2 Quadra drive that is only a little faster than this offers its drive for a much higher rate with no online storage too. If you are not happy with the data transfer rate of the Hitachi S1000U 1TB drive, you can also take into consideration the Seagate FreeAgent Pro with eSATA connection and six months free online storage. S1000U will be ideal choice for backing up your data with minimal fuss.
In the base line, although there are a few rough edges, the SimpleDrive is really a great value. It packs a great deal of storage into a petite and classy looking package.

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Simpletech 1TB Turbo Desktop External Hard Drive – Technical Specification Table

Manufacturer Hitachi SimpleTech
Model Name Hitachi SimpleTech SimpleDrive S1000U
Model number S1000U
Colour Charcoal
Dimensions (H x W x D) 1.5″ x 5″ x 8.25″
Form factor 3.5″
Hard disk drive capacity 1TB
Other capacities available 250GB, 320GB, 500GB and 750GB
Buffer size 16MB
Interface USB2.0, compatible with 1.1
Data transfer rate (max) 480 Mbit/s
USB 1.1 Full Speed 12 Mb/s (max)
Average seek time 8.5ms
Compatible operating systems PC and Mac compatible
Cooling Built-in cooling vents
Software ArcSoft Total Media Backup and Record software
Additional features Capacity meter
Free 2GB online storage
Sits flat or stands upright with included cradle
Package contents Hitachi SimpleTech SimpleDrive S1000U USB drive
USB cable
Power Adapter
Quick Start guide
Warranty Information
Power consumption AC 110/230 V (50/60Hz)
Warranty One year