Hitachi SimpleTOUGH review: Hitachi SimpleTOUGH

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.5
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Service and support: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Conveniently integrated USB cable; three-year warranty; local and online data backup; rubber body can withstand 9.8-foot drops and a ton of pressure.

The Bad No FireWire port; competitors have cheaper cost per gigabyte without rugged specifications; larger than average hardware design.

The Bottom Line The Hitachi SimpleTough is by far the most indestructible external hard drive we've tested, capable of surviving drops of up to 10 feet and up to one ton of pressure. With a built-in USB cable, two-tiered data security package, and an impressive three-year warranty, we have no issue recommending this external hard drive to shoppers looking for space and security.

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The $140 Hitachi SimpleTough external hard drive is one of many ruggedized storage devices we've reviewed recently. The Iomega eGo Camo and Transcend's StoreJet 25 Mobile both offer drives with a protective exterior designed to handle drops and physical abuse, but the 500GB SimpleTough is truly the toughest of them all with a drop-resistance of up to 10 feet. Combined with a conveniently integrated USB cable and a comprehensive three-year warranty, the Hitachi SimpleTough is the ideal carry-along for the traveler who needs more space and an ultradurable design.

Design and features
The general rule of thumb with ruggedized gadgets is the tougher the device, the uglier it looks, and the Hitachi SimpleTough walks a fine line between beefed-up durability and unapologetic gaudiness. The exterior of the drive is wrapped in a carbon-black rubberized weave with a smooth texture that has a surprising amount of grip, but any concern we have about its backbone is immediately shut down by the large, rubberized shock bumpers that protect the drive on both sides. These barriers are sturdy enough to protect your data from up to a 10-foot drop--that's five more feet of protection than the Iomega eGo Camo offers--and pressure up to one ton. Though we only dropped the Hitachi from various distances around the office, a Hitachi representative told us about his endurance test where he placed a SimpleTough on a concrete road and ran over it with a 1998 Chevy 3500 cab truck. Afterward, the drive performed as new and yes, the truck did weigh one ton. Although we don't have the means to submit the drive to a one-ton pressure test, we assume that the SimpleTough can withstand the rigors of daily transport.

Drive type External USB hard drive
Connector options USB 2.0
Available capacities 250GB, 320GB, 500GB
Capacity of test unit 500GB
Operating systems supported Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
Software included Hitachi Ultimate Backup, Joggle digital content manager


You can only connect the drive to a computer with a USB connection (although we wish it had FireWire for Mac users); however, the drive has a convenient built-in cord that wraps and neatly hooks to itself underneath the chassis. The cord is also wrapped in a hard plastic that, we assume, will last just as long as the body. The drive is USB-powered, so there's no need for an external power source.

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Where to Buy

Hitachi SimpleTough external hard drive (USB 2.0, 500GB)

Part Number: ST/500GB

MSRP: $149.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Form Factor 2.5"
  • Hard Drive Type external hard drive
  • Interface Type Hi-Speed USB
  • Capacity 500 GB
About The Author

Justin Yu covers headphones and peripherals for CNET. When he's not wading through Web gulch or challenging colleagues to typing tests, you can find him making fun of technology with Jeff Bakalar every afternoon on The 404 show.