Review: Samsung S1 Mini 120GB portable hard drive

Compact and stylish S1 Mini 120GB portable HDD (June 29th, 2009)

Electronista Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Samsung

Price: $135

The Good

  • Compact, pocketable
  • Stylish
  • Decent transfer speeds
  • Bus powered
  • Cross-platform support
  • Software bundle
  • Included cable

The Bad

  • Expensive

Unlike the majority of external hard drives, the Samsung S1 Mini integrates a 1.8-inch disk. The 120GB drive sacrifices the storage capacity of 2.5-inch models, but allows for a housing with roughly the same area as a credit card. Along with the compact form-factor, the S1 also sports a variety of unique finishes including 'Piano Black' as featured in the review.



The S1 chassis measures 87mm long, 62mm wide and 15.5mm deep, with a weight of just 91g. The small size enables the drive to be thrown in a shirt or pants pocket, with the same feel as a thin clamshell phone. If size and attractiveness are not primary factors when considering a purchase, many 2.5-inch external drives offer significantly better cost-per-gigabyte ratios. The S1 does fill a void, however, between low-capacity thumb drives and cumbersome 2.5-inch external disks.



For the style-conscious owner, the top of the housing features a gloss-black finish paved with small, subdued circles. Depending on the viewing angle, the circles sparkle with multicolored reflections. A gunmetal metallic bezel surrounds the top panel, while the bottom of the housing is produced from matte plastic with a texture resembling leather. A blue LED, visible between the top surface and bezel, slowly flashes during data transfer. The drive also integrates a lanyard hole, although the accessory is not included.



The S1 connects via USB, which also provides power to eliminate the need for an AC adapter. Samsung includes a short USB cable, reaching approximately the length of the drive. The minimalist cable is easy to throw in a pocket, although a longer cable is preferred for most uses. Fortunately, the drive can be used with any standard mini-USB cable if additional length is needed.



Transfer speeds appeared to be on-par with other 1.8-inch, 4,200 RPM USB 2.0-attached drives. Tests showed read speeds of 27.9MB/s, with write speeds reaching 23.5MB/s. To reach significantly higher data rates, users would likely need a larger drive with a FireWire interface.

Samsung ships the software bundle directly on the drive, including SecretZone and SafetyKey. The programs provide typical drive-management tools, along with security encryption. Users can choose from 128-bit AES, 256-bit AES or Blowfish 448 encryption algorithms.

The S1 Mini is perfect for users looking for a compact storage device capable of holding more content than a thumb drive. At $135 for 120GB of storage, the S1 is not intended to compete with the cost-per-gigabyte of the latest high-capacity 2.5-inch offerings. The included software, stylish design and three-year warranty help to mitigate the price tag. Samsung also offers white, red, brown, pink and blue color options, along with 160GB variants.

by Justin King


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