Aluratek Tornado Plus review: Aluratek Tornado Plus

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2 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Swappable plug-and-play design.

The Bad High cost per gigabyte; slow transfer speeds; RFID-security key is easy to lose; flimsy external casing; no telephone support.

The Bottom Line The Aluratek Tornado external hard drive is a RFID-secured hard-drive enclosure that doesn't have the performance or the innovation to warrant its expensive price tag. We don't recommend the poorly designed Tornado since the competition offers more storage space and a higher level of security at less cost.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

4.5 Overall
  • Features 5.0
  • Performance 4.0
  • Service and support 5.0
  • Design and ease of use 4.0

The Aluratek Tornado is an external hard-drive enclosure with a pre-installed drive that comes in a variety of capacities all the way up to 1 terabyte, but for our tests we're using a model with 160GB ($129) of space. The Tornado drive is also equipped with an RFID-security encryption that requires a swipe of a quarter-size key to access the data inside. Aluratek claims that transfer rates can reach up to 480 megabits per second, but our test data shows significantly slower results. Also, the enclosure itself is flimsy and doesn't feel like it can sustain any sort of abuse. And finally, the price tag isn't exactly appealing, either. If you need your data locked down and available on-the-go, your money will go further with the Maxtor Black Armor external hard drive.

Drive type External USB Flash Hard Drive
Connector options USB 2.0
Available capacities 160GB, 250GB, 320GB
Product Dimensions 2.5 inch version: 5.25 by 0.5 by 3.25 inches (LWH) - 49.99
  3.5 inch version: 8 in by 1.31 by 4.75 inches (LWH)
Capacity of test unit 160GB
OSes supported * Windows 2000, XP and Vista
  * Mac OS 9+
Software included Installation CD

Inside the box you'll find the drive, two RFID keys, a carrying case, and the accompanying documentation. The enclosure is compatible with any PATA/IDE hard drive up to 320GB, and installing a new 2.5-inch drive is fairly stress free--Aluratek makes it easy to remove the two screws on the top panel (mini screwdriver not included), connect the new drive, and place it back into the frame. Unfortunately, the enclosure is made of a light metal casing that feels flimsy. In fact, the build quality is so shoddy that the hard drive doesn't even fit flush into the shell, causing it to rattle around inside.

The drive is USB 2.0 compatible and it comes with a two-pronged USB cable in case you need extra power. In addition to the USB port, the top of the Tornado Plus also has an LED-status light and a DC-in port for older computers without the necessary powered USB bus. Aluratek doesn't include a power cord in the box, which leaves us confused as to why they would create the option for external power but choose not to include the necessary accessory to make it work.

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