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Hitachi SimpleDrive Mini 320GB review: Hitachi SimpleDrive Mini 320GB

Hitachi's portable drive is a serviceable external drive that doesn't stand out in a market awash with them.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
3 min read


Hitachi's SimpleDrive Mini is, like most basic portable external USB 2.0 hard drives, not that exciting to look at. Our review sample was a slightly dirty blue colour. According to the correct marketing-speak, it is "Blue Dusk" coloured, whatever that means. A single mini USB port at the rear accommodates a double-headed USB cable, so that users on low-powered USB ports can still fire up the SimpleDrive Mini. The obvious downside to that is if you're using it on a system with limited available USB ports, you'll be even more cramped for expansion possibilities. The base of the drive includes LED activity lights for those that like things that flicker. They're not capacity lights, however, just illumination.


Hitachi SimpleDrive Mini 320GB

The Good

Solid case design. Includes backup software.

The Bad

Split USB cable required for power. Installs annoying toolbar by default.

The Bottom Line

Hitachi's portable drive is a serviceable external drive that doesn't stand out in a market awash with them.


Like most external hard drive vendors, Hitachi offers the SimpleDrive Mini in a variety of capacities. Each capacity is colour coded, so the "Blue Dusk" one is 320GB (AU$109) and the "Carbon Fiber" Mini is 500GB (AU$149). They're both USB 2.0 compatible drives pre-formatted in FAT32 for cross PC/Mac compatibility. There's also a 250GB "Red Wine" drive, but Hitachi has no current plans to sell that model locally.

On the software side, the SimpleDrive won't install anything automatically, but a Flash-based demo file walks you through formatting the drive for Windows or Mac, as well as the optional install of the provided Local Backup utility. As the name suggests, it's a backup utility. It's actually a re-branded copy of ArcSoft TotalMedia Backup. Re-branding we can deal with, but we're less fond of software that piggybacks onto other installs. Unless you specifically deselect it, TotalMedia Backup will install an Ask.com Toolbar as part of the installation process. Because naturally, web toolbars are an essential part of any backup strategy, right?


USB 2.0 external hard drives always tend to operate in a relatively tight operating space when it comes to speed, largely governed by the transmission speed of USB 2.0 itself. The SimpleDrive was thus never likely to truly excite us with speed, and if that's what you're after, either a FireWire or eSATA drive, or even a USB 3.0 drive once they become more widespread, may be a better idea. The SimpleDrive Mini's best speed results in our tests came from reading a 495MB AVI file from the drive where it achieved an average of 34.6MB/s, slightly above average for a USB 2.0 connected drive. The same file wrote to the drive at more ordinary, but not slow, 28.39MB/s. Copying a 76MB folder of files gave us predictably lower read/write speeds of 21.41MB/s and 14.28MB/s respectively.

Step into any computer or office supplies store and you're more than likely to be crushed under huge towering stacks of external USB 2.0 drives at a similar capacity and similar price point. Beyond the annoying Ask.com toolbar install, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with the SimpleDrive, but at the same time there's nothing that makes it stand out at the top of the pile. As such, it's a solid contender, but one that would only truly excel if you found it at a significant price point.