by Andrey Kuznetcov
04/04/2006 | 01:41 PM
The rapid expansion of the flash-memory based storage devices is being constantly opposed by the solutions built with miniature hard disk drives. While the flash-memory based storage products boast high data transfer speeds, the HDD based solutions offer a much more attractive price-point to the users. Who will be the winner in this eternal cut-throat battle? Time will show.
On our end, we decided to continue introducing to you new solutions of both types, so that you could make up your mind easily.
Today we are going to offer you a detailed story about a new Imation compact storage device built with a miniature hard disk drive.
Lock your data with the new Imation lock. These are the words that come to your mind when you first see the new Imation Micro hard Drive. It is true, the exterior design of the solutions looks exactly like a traditional lock. It is hard to say what were Imation engineers guided by when they shaped up their product like that, but I have to admit that this product boasts a very remarkable and memorable image and is very functionally smart, too.
The lock bow is none other but a flexible USB cable. Its connector is fixed in the drive with a special clip during transportation. The data is safe and secure when stored on this hard drive thanks to two major factors. The devices can withstand up to 100Gs of active physical shock thanks to the specially designed shock-resistant case. The software data protection is ensured thanks to the 128-bit encryption and File Synchronization utility that automatically performs reserve data copy.
The hard drive is 4GB big, however Imation also offers a 2GB model. Inside the case there is a 0.85” Toshiba hard drive. The drive supports USB 2.0 interface and doesn’t require any additional power supply during work.
The hard drive is supplied with a quick installation guide.
It is fairly small: 41x16x84 mm and weighs 52g. It is currently selling for around $190.
We tested the external drives in the following benchmarks:
The testbed was configured as follows:
The drive was connected to the USB 2.0 port of the mainboard. The hard drive was formatted for FAT32 file system with the default cluster size.
In order to get a more objective picture of the results, we compared the performance of our today’s hero against that of the external Seagate Pocket hard drive (5GB storage capacity), which we have already reviewed before in our article called Seagate ST650211USB: External Hard Disk Drive to Fit into Your Pocket. It is also built with a miniature hard disk drive inside. This one is a 1-inch HDD, though.
For our tests in FC-Test package we selected two patterns. The first one included a set of 100 files 1MB each. The second pattern was made of one single file 100MB big. The program algorithm implies that we measure the time it takes the drive to complete certain operations with the file groups of a given size. Using the time measurements we will then calculate the speed of the drives during these operations.
The first diagram shows how fast 100 1-MB files were written (created). The Seagate Pocket Hard Drive is an evident leader here.
Imation Micro Hard Drive falls even farther behind during the file read operations. Seagate Pocket Hard Drive is nearly twice as fast.
Now let’s see how the increase in the file size can affect the performance of Imation Micro Hard Drive. The file has now become 100MB big. The diagram showing how fast it was written (created) demonstrates the minimal performance improvement by our today’s hero. At the same time Seagate Pocket Hard Drive speeded up quite tangibly.
The situation is a little bit more favorable for the Imation Micro Hard Drive during reading. The performance improvement by the Imation drive is more noticeable than that by the Seagate drive, although the latter is still quite far ahead.
With the help of special AIDA32 software we will build linear read and write graphs, as well as obtain results for average access time. We used the average values of the above listed parameters to build the diagrams you see below:
Linear Write Speed
Linear Read Speed
Average Access Time
The first diagram shows the average linear write speed. Unfortunately, Imation Micro Hard Drive appeared almost one third as fast as its opponent.
The average linear read speed diagram doesn’t give Imation Micro Hard Drive any causes for joy. It yielded to the rival from Seagate once again, although this time the gap is not as big as in the previous case.
Average access time results are again far from being in favor of Imation Micro Hard Drive. It takes a little bit more time to complete the test than its opponent, although this time the difference is really small.
The results we obtained today during our relatively short test session do not allow us to make any far-fetched conclusions. We did compare the results of Imation Micro Hard Drive against those of Seagate Pocket Hard Drive knowing that these two products are built with the HDDs of slightly different form-factors. Moreover, these two solutions boast different storage capacity, which is also an important factor. So, we wouldn’t make any final statements this time.
Instead we would simply like to state that Imation Micro Hard Drive boasts lower performance results than the Seagate Pocket Hard Drive that was its opponent during this test session. We have seen this in both: synthetic and practical benchmarks.
Even though we were hoping that Imation Micro Hard Drive would show better results, our hopes didn’t come true. This is no tragedy. Since there is not that much of a choice in the market of compact storage devices built with miniature hard disk drives, Imation Micro Hard Drive has every chance to find its customers: especially those users who like exotic shapes and design ideas. Besides, this drive boasts quite big storage capacity, while its price is considerably lower than what the flash-memory based devices have to offer. It is the 1.5 times price difference that might turn into a determinative factor for those users who have limited budget.
We will continue testing small devices like that, so stay tuned for more new names!