As we’ve already noted, would-be buyers will find a huge selection of external hard disks available to them. Compared to internal drives, these products are more expensive, but both OEMs and drive manufacturers add value to them by bundling software and adding features—including backup software, as a very good example. Let’s take a look at the external Story Station drive from Samsung, and see how it stacks up.
The Story Station enclosure is made of plastic and brushed aluminum, as is typical for this product category. The design is boxy, and its appearance reminds us of consumer electronics from the 1970s or perhaps modular car audio components from a vendor like Alpine or Polk Audio. The workmanship is nevertheless of high quality.
The front panel of the Story Station is completely gray, and features only a logo in red at the left, and a control knob at the right. The same look and layout that characterize the front of the unit, also apply to the rear view as well, including another red stencil. There, you’ll also find a Type B mini-USB jack and a power jack for the unit’s external power supply, both of which are highlighted with red plastic housings in the same color as the stenciled artwork on the case.
Because the enclosure features ventilation slits on its rear and underside, and the all-aluminum housing itself facilitates heat transfer, we never measured any significant heat build-up on the hard disk itself. The sidewalls also help with heat transfer from the bottom metal plate on the drive, by leaving room for air to circulate inside the case and out the ventilation slits. A single white LED on the bottom, behind the front edge of the case, lights up to indicate read/write activity on the drive. Although it points downward, the shape of the enclosure makes it easy to see this LED at work.
Inside the box, you’ll find an external power supply along with a power cable, a USB cable, and a printed user manual, plus the Story Station itself. As with most devices in this product category, Samsung doesn’t skimp on the software bundle included with this unit either. Instead of adding a CD to the box, however, Samsung chose to write the installation files and a PDF version of the manual right onto the Story Station’s hard disk.
Using the included software, users can schedule regular backups (with Samsung Auto Backup), and protect their backup sets with a password if they like (with SafetyKey). Users can also install a virtual hard disk on the Story Station called SecretZone, which keeps its contents hidden from other users who may log onto your PC. Overall, this puts Samsung’s offerings on par with the software that Seagate provides with its FreeAgent Pro or that Western Digital delivers with its MyBook series of external hard disks.
|Model ||Samsung Story Station|
|Capacity||1.5 TB, 1 TB, 500 GB|
|Weight||~2.2 lbs (~ 1 Kg)|
|Dimensions (H x W x d)||1.65” x 4.70” x 7.59” (41.85 x 119.5 x 192.8 mm)|
|OSes supported||Windows 2000/XP/Vista|
Mac OS X 10.4.8 or Later
|Features||Adjustable LED brightness|
Samsung Auto Backup