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Silicon Power Armor A80 review: Silicon Power Armor A80

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The Armor A80 is the first device from Silicon Power I've seen, and it's impressive. The drive is waterproof, rugged, and most importantly very fast, according to my testing. Despite all that, it still manages to be as compact as other portable drives that are based on 2.5-inch standard internal hard drives. It's also bus-powered.

8.1

Silicon Power Armor A80

The Good

The <b>Silicon Power Armor A80</b> portable hard drive offers very fast performance, and it's waterproof and rugged. The drive is also compact and nice-looking.

The Bad

The Silicon Power Armor A80 uses an untraditional USB cable.

The Bottom Line

The Silicon Power Armor A80 makes an excellent portable drive for travelers and home offices alike.

The only shortcoming the A80 has, if any, is that it uses A-male-to-A-male USB cable, which is harder to run across than regular A-male-to-B-male USB cable. To make up for this, the drive comes with two cables, one of which is short enough to tuck inside a groove on the drive's side.

If you can live with this odd choice of the USB cable, at a street price of around $135 for 1TB, Silicon Power's Armor A80 makes an excellent portable hard drive to use on the go or at home.

Drive type 2.5-inch external USB hard drive
Connector options USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Available capacities 500GB, 640GB, 750GB, 1TB
Capacity of test unit 1TB
Drive size 2.5 inches
Dimensions (LWH) 5.5 inches by 3.7 inches by .7 inch
Weight .55 lb
OSes supported Windows 2000 or later, Mac OS 10.4 or later
Software included SP Widget
Service and support 3-year warranty

Design and features
The Silicon Power Armor A80 looks like a typical portable drive. Measuring 5.5 inches by 3.7 inches by .7 inch, the drive is compact. It's also very light, weighing just about half a pound. On one side, the drive has a deep groove that holds its short 4-inch USB 3.0 cable. This cable-carry design makes the drive very convenient to use on the go with a laptop. The drive also comes with a second 3-foot USB 3.0 cable in case you need to connect it to a desktop.

Unlike standard USB cables, the A80's USB 3.0 cable comes with an A male plug on both ends, meaning you can't use a standard USB cable with the drive. This minor shortcoming is more than made up for by the fact that this design allows for faster connecting since you can use either end of the cable with the computer or the drive.


The A80 comes with an A-male-to-A-male USB 3.0 cable (right), instead of a standard A-male-to-B-male USB cable.

On the other side, the drive comes with one A female USB 3.0 port for both data and power. This port comes with a watertight rubber lid to keep water and dust from getting into this drive. With a casing made up of aluminum, plastic, and rubber, the A80 meets the IEC 529 IPX7 waterproof standard, meaning it can withstand submersion in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of about 3 feet. It also meets the U.S. military drop-test standard MIL-STD-810F 516.5, which dictates that it will survive being dropped from a height of about 4 feet during transit.

I actually tried submerging the drive in the kitchen sink overnight, leaving it under a running showerhead for about half an hour, and dropping it from the level of my belt a few times while walking, and the drive indeed survived it all. The cover of the drive is susceptible to dents and scratches, however, so you probably don't want to do these things to your drive.

There's nothing to setting up the A80. The drive is preformatted in the FAT32 file system and all you need to do is plug it into a Mac, Windows, or Linux computer and it's ready to be used. Note that FAT32 works across platforms but it can store file sizes up to only 4GB. If you want to store larger files, you will need to format the drive into NTFS (Windows), HFS+ (Mac), or Ext3 (Linux), to use with each of the platforms exclusively.

The A80 doesn't come with any software installed, but Windows users can download the SP Widget from Silicon Power's Web site to add backup and data encryption features to the drive.

Performance
The Silicon Power Armor A80 excels where it's most important: performance. I tested it with both USB 3.0 and UBS 2.0.

With USB 3.0, the drive registered a write speed of 87MBps and a read speed of 102.7MBps. Both of these numbers are among the fastest I've seen so far. When used with USB 2.0, The drive offered a write speed of 28.8MBps, being the third fastest among the drives compared for this test, and a read speed of 38.8MBps, about average.

The drive also worked very well and generated almost no heat in my trial, even after lengthy operation.

USB 3.0 external hard-drive performance (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
Silicon Power Armor A80
102.7 
87.8 
LaCie Minimus USB 3.0
104.9 
87.7 
Clickfree C6
103.4 
87.7 
LaCie FastKey
115.5 
87.1 
Seagate GoFlex Slim
101.9 
82.4 
IoSafe SoloPro
106 
77.1 
HP Portable Hard Drive
83.65 
69.4 

USB 2.0 external hard-drive performance (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
Silicon Power Armor A80
32.8 
28.8 
LaCie FastKey
36.6 
28.8 
Clickfree C6
33.1 
28.7 
IoSafe SoloPro
36.6 
28.7 
LaCie Minimus USB 3.0
36.5 
28.7 
Clickfree C2N
40.1 
28.2 
Seagate GoFlex Slim
37.25 
27.66 

Service and support
Silicon Power backs the Armor A80 with a three-year warranty, which is decent for a storage device. At the company's Web site, you'll find a page dedicated to the drive where you can download its manual, software, and so on.

Conclusions
Attractive, compact, rugged, and offering fast performance, the Silicon Power Armor A80 portable hard drive would be an excellent choice for anyone who wants to bring extra storage on the go.

8.1

Silicon Power Armor A80

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 8Support 7