The Silicon Power Armor A70 500GB is as portable as any portable USB 2.0 external hard drive. Except that the 'Armor' in its name signifies considerable resistance to actions that would otherwise damage a normal hard drive.
According to Silicon Power, this drive can survive being dropped onto the floor or being left under one metre of water for half an hour, and is pressure, vibration and dust-proof. But be warned that the goal is to have a hard drive that can survive small accidents - deliberately subjecting it to extremes of these will kill it, of course - like any consumer hard drive.
Design and features
The model we received for review was red and had smooth edges, except for the sides where a black strip runs across. Since the casing is not glossy, fingerprints are not an issue. Oddly for a drive in late-2010, the USB connector on the drive's side is of a proper, full-USB kind, unlike others which connect over mini-USB.
Two USB cables are provided. One really short cable, presumably meant for connecting to a laptop, can be stored in the small ridge reserved for it at one side of the drive, when not in use. A longer, normal sized USB cable is also present in the package. This longer cable is a Y-cable with two USB connectors to draw power, in case you have an old PC that may not supply enough power to operate this drive over a single USB port.
Features bundled include the mini-CD that contains the SP widget software. This lets you backup and synchronise data with the PC. It can also lock access to the PC, on the basis of a password or time. These security software features are in addition to the hardware itself, which is 'rugged' as described earlier.
To prevent bottlenecks, our colleagues at PC World India used their top-end test-rig for testing. On synthetic benchmarks they measured a read speed average of 32.6 MBps and a write speed average of 28.9 MBps. Read and write access times averaged 17.5ms and 8.2ms respectively, with a CPU usage of 1 per cent on average.
Real world file transfer read/write speeds conducted when the drive was empty showed a speed of 28.9 MBps and 23.15 MBps respectively for a single large file (6.42 GB), but fell as expected to 20.9 MBps and 12.83 MBps respectively when copying multiple smaller files (1,287 files totaling up to 2.33 GB). Transferring these small files from the first partition to a second one on the same drive (simultaneous read/write) was at a speed of 9.2 MBps.
Internally, the drive uses a Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B 2.5in hard drive. As is usual for a 500GB drive, the actual available data storage capacity is 465.76 GB. This portable drive carries carries a warranty of 2 years from Silicon Power.
The rugged nature and additional software could have propelled this drive into our Top 5 Portable hard drive list, but price considerations made it miss out narrowly.