The Transcend SSD18M is an external storage device that uses a solid-state hard drive with no moving parts to keep data. The Intel X-25M internal drive came through the CNET labs last October and proved the benefits of SSD--faster access and boot times--but the Transcend SSD18M adds the extra bonus of portability. Our main gripe with the Intel was definitely the price, and while the 128GB Transcend sets you back $440, we think it's worth it for the small footprint, eSata/USB combo, and improved transfer speed.
Design and features
The design of Transcend's SSD18M is so subtle and unassuming that others will likely have no idea what it is. The black plastic is finished with a glossy diamond pattern with a tiny Transcend logo in the corner. The entire device, including the eSATA and USB port on the side, is a tiny 80-millimeters long by 12.5-millimeters wide by 50-millimeters tall, and weighs just 50 grams--a benefit to SSDs that lack spinning plates and other moving parts that add significant bulk to hard-disk drives. Instead, SSDs like the SSD18M save data to more reliable NAND flash memory that also provides faster throughput and power consumption. Transcend offers the 1.8-inch SSD18M drive in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities.
|Drive type||External USB flash hard drive|
|Connector options||USB 2.0, eSATA|
|Available capacities||32GB, 64GB, 128GB|
|Product Dimensions (LWH)||80mm x 12.5mm x 50mm|
|Capacity of test unit||128GB|
|OSes supported||Windows XP/Vista and Mac OS X|
In addition to its light weight, the Transcend SSD18M is also durable; it recently achieved the U.S. Military's top drop-test standard, withstanding rigorous direct impact and fall tests. Even though we don't advocate the abuse of any device, you shouldn't worry about the dangers of throwing the drive into your bag with keys and other stuff rolling around inside. You can cover the larger eSATA port with a rubber foot to prevent dust and grime from entering, but the USB port remains exposed.
One drawback to the design of the drive is that the eSATA port isn't self-powered like the USB 2.0 port. To transfer data through eSATA, you have to use the proprietary cord that comes with it that features an additional USB prong on both ends to ensure adequate power to the drive. It's a bit of a hassle to use and you have to order a replacement off the Transcend Web site if you happen to lose it.
Cost per gigabyte
According to the Transcend Web site, the current retail prices for the SSD18M are $126, $233, and $440 for the 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB models, respectively. Compared with current external hard disks like the Fujitsu HandyDrive that costs a quarter of the price ($110) for three times the capacity (400GB), it's safe to say that only early adopters who invest more in performance than cost value will consider purchasing an SSD. That said, the portable SSD18M is still significantly cheaper than the Intel X-25M SSD, so we'll hold off on complaining about the SSD18M's price until the rest of the market catches up with Transcend's competitive prices.