Most portable hard drive vendors create their products the same way: they design an attractive shell, purchase a controller/interface combo, grab off-the-shelf internal hard drives, and put it all together. A solid brand and popular distribution partners don’t hurt, either.
USB 2.0 has been the most common interface choice for quite a while, which is why there are almost no performance differences between various portable hard drives. A-Data and Hitachi are different, catering to a niche performance segment they consider important—namely mobile users who put their gear under considerable physical strain.
Many external hard drives, and certainly most portable hard drives, have become convenience products. They’re all more or less alike, the supply is larger than the demand, and they’re easily replaceable. Yet, they remain necessary for different reasons. Notebook users might not want to replace their hard drives once they need more storage capacity. Those lucky enough to have a notebook with a fast and fancy solid state drive (SSD) will run out of storage space much earlier because SSDs still don’t get anywhere near the 500+ gigabyte capacities of 2.5” notebook drives. In addition, at least 10% to 20% of your SSD’s capacity should remain unused so controllers have sufficient available memory to reorganize blocks for higher write performance. Obviously, this reduces the usable capacity.
Performance aside, you’ll probably appreciate a high-capacity hard drive if only for backup purposes. Storage products are so cheap now that many users regularly migrate to larger drives and add their old ones into a backup pool.
A-Data and Hitachi cater to all who want a storage product that’s more than just convenient capacity. The A-Data Sport SH93 and Hitachi’s SimpleTOUGH are ruggedized and spill-resistant 500GB portable hard drives that stand out from the crowd.