In addition to protection from physical damage, Hitachi also gives you a two-tiered solution to prevent data loss because of natural disasters and other circumstances. First, the Local Backup software lets you set up automatic backups to a host computer, and the Ultimate Backup software gives you 2GB of free online storage through Hitachi's off-site servers. You also get a free copy of Joggle, Hitachi's media organization tool that lets you view and arrange your photos, music, and videos without clicking through multiple menu levels or Web sites. Finally, the software makes it easy to share content through social networks and personal Web pages.
Cost per gigabyte
The drive comes in three capacities in a variety of colors: 250GB in red ($90), 320GB in blue ($110), and the 500GB in the textured carbon-black finish for $140 that we tested. As you can see in the chart, the SimpleTough costs $0.30 per gigabyte, which comes in at exactly average for an external hard drive. Other drives such as the Seagate Black Armor PS110 cost more at $0.32 per gigabyte, but it's certainly not the cheapest drive out there. That award goes to the Fujitsu HandyDrive, which remains king of the castle at just $0.27 per gigabyte.
(Shorter bars indicate cheaper cost)
As always, we perform a simple data transfer test and compare the Hitachi SimpleTough with four other external drives in a similar price range. The test results place the SimpleTough right in the middle at 28.6 megabytes per second to read and 22.3Mbps to write our 6GB mixed media file folder. The chart shows the faster and slower drives on the market, but the differences are so minor that you likely won't be able to tell unless you're transferring a 10GB or larger file.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
We have to applaud Hitachi for offering a generous three-year limited warranty with the SimpleTough drive series. We always urge vendors to raise the warranty period to at least three years since many people throw around these portable devices without regard for hardware. We hope the extended durability will save the drive from any physical failure, but you know never know, so we're happy It is providing an extra security blanket. A comprehensive list of FAQs, user guides, and drivers are all available on the Hitachi Technical Support Web site, and telephone support is available 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT Monday through Friday.