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Iomega Radical Skin review: Iomega Radical Skin

Iomega Radical Skin

Justin Yu Associate Editor / Reviews - Printers and peripherals
Justin Yu covered headphones and peripherals for CNET.
Justin Yu
4 min read

Labels aside, most of the external hard drives that come through our labs are indistinguishable from one another--they employ the generic aesthetic formula consisting of a simple rectangular case and a USB port on top. Iomega continues to earn our recommendation with its latest portable drive series, the Skin. The line includes the "Knock Out," "Radical," and "Red Hot," and all three designs carry a custom graphic provided in collaboration with popular action-sports label Skin Industries. As usual, Iomega delivers the goods both inside and out with extra features like Drop Guard, plenty of data protection software, and an impressive warranty that lasts for three years. Granted the Sailor Jerry-esque designs aren't for everyone, but the Skin series certainly continues Iomega's reputation for putting out attractive, easy-to-use, affordable portable storage drives.


Iomega Radical Skin

The Good

Quick transfer speeds; small 2.5-inch footprint; Drop Guard protects up to 51 inches; three-year warranty.

The Bad

Average cost per gigabyte; no 1TB option; "Jersey Shore" design may not appeal to everyone.

The Bottom Line

The Radical Skin is one of three unique Iomega portable hard drives designed in collaboration with action sports apparel brand Skin Industries. Along with Knock Out and Red Hot, the $120 Radical Skin boasts an impressive 51-inch drop protecting rating and a generous three-year warranty, but it only comes in 500GB with no other capacities available. Not everyone will appreciate the design, but we recommend the Iomega Radical Skin for those who need a rugged portable hard drive.

Design and features
At 4.9 inches long, 3.3 inches wide, and 0.7-inches thick, the Iomega Radical Skin is even thinner than the eGo Portable we raved about last year, thanks to the 2.5-inch drive inside. The small footprint earns points for portability, and its 0.36-pound weight fits comfortably in a shirt pocket for easy transportation.

The Radical Skin is adorned by a custom graphic designed by Skin Industries, a sports apparel company that was once exclusive to Freestyle Motocross (FMX), but now reaches across "all sports and levels from amateur to professional." Comparable to Sailor Jerry, Von Dutch, and maybe a little "Jersey Shore," the white and yellow script aggressively pops off the black background and looks much tougher than the majority of competitive drives we review.

The 2.5-inch SATA hard disk spins at 5,400 revolutions per minute, and a smooth case protects the inside with Iomega's Drop Guard feature for protection up to 51 inches. Just for kicks, we purposefully dropped the Radical Skin from three and four foot heights, and each time the drive worked flawlessly. The interface is just as clean as the exterior; a single mini USB 2.0 sits on top and a small LED light blinks green to indicate the drive is transferring data. The Radical Skin is also one of the first Iomega hard drives not to include an extra power port, since it draws data and juice from USB.

In addition to physical protection, the Skin series also includes a suite of software , including a one-year free subscription to Trend Micro Internet Security, Roxio Retrospect Express Backup HD, Iomega's QuikProtect file backup, and a lifetime 2GB per month subscription to MozyHome Online backup. The free software comes with purchase of the drive, but there are no CDs in the packaging; Instead, Iomega cleverly includes license codes for each program to download directly off the Iomega Web site.

Roxio Retrospect Express Backup HD is a lighter version of Roxio's $50 professional backup software, but it can still perform all the backup functions you need to protect your data, including incremental backups and dated restore points. The layout of the program is intuitive and easy to use, especially since there aren't many options on the home page. In the setup process, you can choose to either backup using simple file duplication or compress an entire data dump into one file. The second method is a little easier to organize, although you'll need to reinstall the software onto the new host drive in order to restore the files. The deal also includes a free lifetime subscription to Mozy.com, a Web site that offers online backups and storage. You only get 2GB per month with the deal, but you can upgrade to unlimited storage for $4.95 per month if you want to take full advantage of the software.

Cost per GB
The Iomega Radical isn't the absolute cheapest hard drive you can buy- that accolade still goes to the Verbatim Acclaim, an Editor's Choice winner for both its quick throughput speeds as well as its $0.14 cost per gigabyte. Still, the aesthetic appeal plus all the extra software in the bundle and the 3-year warranty definitely offset the slightly more expensive price tag.

Cost per gigabyte
Cost per gig (in cents)  
Verbatim Acclaim
LaCie Rikiki
Iomega Radical Skin
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex
G-Tech G-Drive Mobile USB

Using our same test methodology, the Radical Skin read our 6GB data file at 32.17 megabytes per second (MB/s) and wrote it back at 26.67MB/s, fast enough to bump the aforementioned Verbatim Acclaim out of top position. We typically see an insignificant difference in speeds across the majority of external hard drives that come through our labs, but Iomega manages to break out from the pack, although you won't notice a big difference unless you transfer files upwards of 10GB.

Speed test (in MB/s)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
USB Read (MB/s)  
USB Write (MB/s)  
Iomega Radical Skin
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex
Verbatim Acclaim
LaCie Rikiki

Service and support
Iomega continues to set the bar for external hard drives with a generous three-year limited warranty that covers standard parts and labor, and we applaud the company for taking care of its customers. The Iomega Web site and its user-to-user support forums are an excellent source for troubleshooting, but Iomega will replace the drive in the event of a manufacturer's defect.