Seagate ST650211USB: External Hard Disk Drive to Fit into Your Pocket

There are not so many miniature hard disk drives in the market today that can easily fit into your shirt pocket. And if you are looking for a storage device like that, then why don’t you pay some attention to a solution offered by Seagate, which is the today’s leader in terms of storage capacity to size ratio.

by Andrey Kuznetcov
01/11/2005 | 10:02 AM

Not so long ago we already tested a miniature 2.5-inch hard disk drive designed as a compact flash solution (see our article called Seagate ST1 1-Inch Hard Disk Drive Review), that is why we could hardly miss the opportunity to compare its performance with that of the new external product from the same developer.

 

But let’s start from the very beginning.

Inside the plastic package there is the actual storage device, which looks mostly like a UFO, a CD with the necessary software and brief user guide. The rounded shape of the drive makes it very conveniently sit in the palm of a hand when you carry it or connect to your PC. The USB cable is not very long, and is “tied” around the black casing inside a special slit. When you are connecting the device to the computer you simply turn it holding the external silver plastic side thus releasing the USB connector and preparing the drive for operation.

Since the device is very lightweight it can work even hanging on the USB cord when connected to the system. Besides the storage device with 5GB capacity, there is smaller model featuring 2.5GB of storage space. The spindle rotation speed of this device is 3,600rpm, and the buffer is equal to 2MB. The drive supports USB 2.0 interface. It doesn’t require any external power supply. The manufacturer claims that the typical read speed of the device is 4MB/sec, and write speed – 7MB/sec.

The drive can work when the environment temperature varies from 0oC to 40oC, and be in standby mode or turned off at the temperatures between 0oC to 70oC. The typical noise level during the drive’s operation reaches 2.2bel.

  

  

The portable pocket drive is designed to work under Macintosh OS X, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME and Windows 98 SE operating systems.

Software Bundle

The CD disk which comes together with the drive you will find a user guide in HTML and PDF formats, drivers, and Seagate Toolkit (for Windows), which is none other but a set of utilities offering the HDD owner pretty much the same functionality as any of the USB flash-drives. Let’s take a closer look at these functions now.

  

  

  

  

As you can see from the screenshot, the main menu consists of three options. Tools option allows turning the drive into a system disk, changing the already existing sections, format the drive or restore the default (factory) state. The drive turns into a system disk with the help of FreeDOS operating system, which is also available on the CD disk. By changing the existing sections you can create the general access zone, and the zone for confidential info storing.

The Security menu option allows setting user login and password and assigning the drive section a read only status.

The Help menu option provides access to user’s manual, which is stored on the accompanying CD disk, check the availability of updates for Seagate Toolkit and access Seagate Techsupport on the company’s official website.

Besides all the above listed features, the auxiliary menu options allow browsing through the CD disk contents, “disconnecting” the drive from the operating system, and access another pocket HDD if necessary, if there are more than one drive of the kind attached to your system.

As for the drive’s cost, it was not yet selling that widely at the time we worked on this article. But I am pretty sure that you can find it on Pricewatch already.

Testbed and Methods

We used the following software during our test session:

We ran all benchmarks on the following test platform:

The pocket storage drive was connected to USB 2.0 port of the mainboard. The hard disk drive was formatted in FAT32 file system with the cluster of default size.

In order to evaluate the working parameters of our today’s testing participant, we compared its performance with that of another similar product from Seagate – Seagate ST1 (see our article called Seagate ST1 1-Inch Hard Disk Drive Review) designed in Compact Flash format, and a miniature Slimmo Disk4U.

Performance in FC-Test

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 first diagram shows the read speed of the tested devices when they work with 100 1Mb-big files. The pocket HDD from Seagate is just a little bit ahead of its fellow, while compared to Slimmo Disk4U, it demonstrated almost a twice higher performance.

When we get to the write speed test (creating) for 100 files 1Mb each, the resulting picture doesn’t actually change. Again our external HDD outpaces another Seagate’s product and proves almost 1.5 times faster than the competing Slimmo Disk4U solution.

The increase in the tested file size up to 100MB causes minimal read speed changes for the new Seagate pocket HDD. Here it appears to be just like its relative, showing similar behavior. Only Slimmo Disk4U manages to notably improve the performance.

The larger size of the pattern file has very positive influence on the performance of our testing participants also during writing. The Seagate pocket HDD gets about 1.5 times faster than in case of 100 smaller files. It is again just a little bit ahead of its counterpart designed in Compact Flash format. At the same time, it is more than twice as fast compared to Slimmo Disk4U solution.

Performance in AIDA32

With the help of special AIDA32 software we will build linear read and write graphs, as well as obtain the results for average access time.


Linear Read Speed


Linear Write Speed


Average Access Time

The results you saw on the screenshots above indicate that the read and write speeds are about the same. The data transfer rate graphs also turn out very similar.

The diagram for average linear read speed results shows that our hero yielded slightly to its relative, but is nevertheless much faster than the competitor’s Slimmo Disk4U solution.

The minimal difference in the performance results is also present on the average liner write speed diagram. Again the pocket solution from Seagate is a tiny bit slower than its brother. The advantage over the Slimmo Disk4U remains tangible.

The last diagram is built for the average access time. As we have actually expected, these results are almost identical for both Seagate products. The main hero of our today’s investigation is just a little bit behind the ST1 drive. The average access time by Slimmo Disk4U appears twice as high.

Conclusion

The release of this pocket storage device from Seagate into the market offers users a much broader choice of solutions like that, because there haven’t been that many of the in the market so far. Now that we have just made this general statement, we would like to make a few more specific conclusions. Since the performance difference between the pocket solution from Seagate and a solution designed by the same company in Compact Flash format is negligible, the users can theoretically go for the St1 HDD and an external card-reader device, as an alternative to the new pocket HDD, if the price of this combination appears more attractive.

At the same time, I can’t help mentioning a very successful design idea implemented in the external pocket HDD, which ensures convenient and compact storage of the USB cable, and goes with very functional software definitely enriching the HDD’s capabilities. The results of our today’s test session showed that the new Seagate product is fast and competitive enough to determine your choice.

Since ST650211USB doesn’t have any direct competitors in the market so far, it has every chance to win wide market recognition and users’ love. The determinative factor in this case will definitely be its retail price, which hasn’t been finalized yet, but which will surely be lower than that of its indirect competitors, such as a Compact Flash + card-reader bundle.