Editors' note: The final rating of this review has been updated to reflect a discrepancy in calculation. None of the individual scores have changed.
The 320GB Lenovo ThinkPad USB Secure Hard Drive's is an external hard drive that takes a tactile approach to security; users must input a passcode on the built-in keypad before the drive will let them access its contents. We like that the drive has an integrated USB 2.0 cable, but the rest of the case is an eyesore, especially compared with other stylishly thin external drives. The upside is that Lenovo ThinkPad USB Secure registered chart-topping performance results, but the increased transfer speeds come at a price. The $219 retail price is worth it for people who value security and performance over flashy design, but the budget-minded consumer can pay less and get a thinner, attractive drive with more storage space.
Design and features
The Lenovo ThinkPad USB Secure Hard Drive isn't one of the prettiest drives to enter CNET Labs. The chassis is covered with the same soft rubber that's become an IBM/Lenovo staple and four nonskid antivibration pads are stuck to the bottom of the drive to prevent it from slipping around your work space. The drive also houses an integrated USB 2.0 cord that tucks neatly into a cutout on the right side. The cord is only a couple of inches long, but Lenovo also includes an extension cord if you need more slack. The drive is entirely powered by the USB bus, but Lenovo covers its bases and includes a supplemental power port and plug to provide additional power as needed. Unfortunately, the drive does not support a FireWire connection
|Drive type||External USB Flash Hard Drive|
|Connector options||USB 2.0|
|Available capacities||160GB, 320GB|
|Product Dimensions (LWH)||4.8x3.45x0.85 inches|
|Capacity of test unit||320GB|
|OSes supported||Windows XP/Vista and Mac OS X|
The ThinkPad uses a front-mounted numeric keypad to ensure the security of the data inside. This unique feature is different from other external hard drives that prefer to encrypt data using internal software, and according to Lenovo, its 128-bit AES security is virtually impenetrable. You can program the drive with up to 10 unique user-enabled passwords, excluding one administrator ID for master controls. All user profiles are established directly on the drive, and set up is easy thanks to step-by-step directions in the manual. If you happen to misplace the administrator password, the drive must be completely wiped out to regain access.
Cost per gigabyte
At $219 for the 320GB model, the ThinkPad USB Secure Hard Drive is one of the most expensive external drives on the market. It factors out to 69 cents per gigabyte, 10 cents per GB more than the Iomega eGo Camo and 22 cents more than the Seagate FreeAgent Go, an Editors' Choice winner for its excellent value. The integrated USB port and beefed-up storage bump up the price of the ThinkPad, but keep in mind that the competition offers more space for less money.
Although the price is a bit higher than competitive drives, the ThinkPad proves its worth with an impressive set of speed test results. It bested other comparison drives in both the read and write tests, reading 25.63 megabytes per second and writing 22.99 megabytes per second, a full 5 seconds faster than the next fastest drive, the Iomega eGo Helium.
Service and support
The Lenovo ThinkPad USB Secure Hard Drive is backed by a three-year limited warranty that covers parts and service. Lenovo offers phone support in the United States 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, with additional links, troubleshooting tips, driver downloads, and replacement requests on its Web site.