Roundup: Hand-Held Hard Drives With Up To 500 GB

Samsung S2 Portable 500 GB (HXMU050DA)

Samsung provided us with two drives for review: the 2.5” S2 with a 500 GB capacity, and its 1.8” little brother named the S1 (details on the next page). The HXMU050DA is Samsung’s current flagship model, but you can also get 320 GB, 250 GB, and 160 GB capacity units. All of these are based on a USB 2.0 interface and come in four different colors: black, brown, red, or white. Compared to other portable storage products, which are typically black or at least somewhat dark in shade, the S2 Portable provides styling that might be a better match for the fairer sex and style-crazed kids.

Samsung specified a weight of 170 g for the 500 GB model and 154 g for the 320 and 250 GB capacities, making this device one of the lightest 2.5” portable storage solutions at these capacities. The enclosure is made of plastic, but is attractive nonetheless. All Samsung S2 drives are based on the Spinpoint M hard drive series, which runs at 5,400 RPM, offers 8 MB of cache, and a Serial ATA/300 interface.

Useful Software

Samsung added two software tools to the S2 Portable drives: Auto Backup and Secret Zone. The first is a simple but efficient backup utility. It is preset to back up documents, but not multimedia files such as photos, videos, or music—these you must select manually. Backups can be password protected, and the utility supports versioning, scheduling, and compression.

The second program is called SecretZone, and it allows the user to create encrypted containers that can be mapped into Windows as individual drives. The tool isn’t as powerful and mature as TrueCrypt, but it is somewhat easier to handle. It also supports converting container files into executables, which may be decrypted on the fly without requiring the SecretZone utility.