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View Full Version : Seagate's BlackArmor PS 110 Portable USB 3.0 Drive

Jeff Deneen
03-16-2010, 03:00 PM
<p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/wpt/auto/1268079197.usr11811.jpg" style="border: 0;" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><h6><strong>Product Category:</strong> Portable Storage Device</h6><h6><strong>Manufacturer:</strong> <a href="http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/" target="_blank" title="Seagate home">Seagate</a></h6><h6><strong>Where to Buy:</strong> <a href="http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/external/blackarmor/blackarmor_ps_110_usb3/?intcmp=bac-en-us-home-h_hero1-baps110kit#tTabContentSpecifications" target="_blank">Seagate</a>; <a href="http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148529&amp;CMP=AFC-C8Junction&amp;nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&amp;cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction" target="_blank">newegg</a>.</h6><h6><strong>Price:</strong> $179.99</h6><h6><strong>System Requirements:</strong> ExpressCard/34 USB 3.0 card; Power Dongle; USB Cable</h6><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Pros:</strong></p><ul><li>Form Factor;</li><li>Back-up software included;</li><li>USB 3.0 Speed;</li><li>Capacity.</li></ul><p><strong>Cons:</strong></p><ul><li>Until you have USB 3.0 in your laptop, you have to use an ExpressCard/34 card.</li></ul><p><strong>Summary:</strong> This is one of the first USB 3.0 Portable Drives to hit the market. Having half a&nbsp;terabyte in your hands is great, especially if you are a road warrior. The Seagate BlackArmor drive delivers speed, capacity, and portability in a solid, user friendly, package that provides for a complete system recovery in the palm of your hand or enough video for a weeks' worth of trade show video demos. It is a valuable addition to any traveler.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><MORE /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><h1>Wow, How Times Change...</h1><p>We all know about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore's_Law" target="_blank">Moore's Law</a>, but sometimes it helps to be grounded in what it means for daily life. Some of us remember the days when a 10 MB hard disk was the size of a hatbox. We remember opening large cases with a Philips screwdriver, checking the interrupt jumpers on the motherboard, checking the SCSI card jumpers before putting it in the case, manually loading the init files so we had them in the right order in the autoexec.bat file, and then hoping the whole thing worked.</p><p>This week, I added a 500 GB drive a little bit larger than a deck of cards, about half as thick, by plugging in an <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExpressCard" target="_blank">ExpressCard/34</a> and a driver and I will not need either of those when USB 3.0 becomes universally available in laptops. At the time I wrote this, HP, ASUS, and Dell are all shipping USB 3.0 laptops.</p><h1>So How Does It Really Work?</h1><p>Because USB 3.0 ports are not readily available, Seagate provides an ExpressCard/34 USB 3.0 card along with the PS 110 drive. The first step is to connect BlackArmor to the laptop USB 2.0 port to install the drivers for the USB 3.0 card. Seagate provides the drivers on the drive so you&nbsp;won't find&nbsp;any software in the box. The drive is compatible with USB 2.0 and all you have to do is attach to a 2.0 port, load the driver, and you're ready to install the ExpressCard/34. Because of power requirements, there is a USB 2.0 dongle required to provide sufficient power to the ExpressCard. The cable is long enough to use almost any USB port on a standard laptop. Once you plug in the dongle, the light on the ExpressCard turns green and you can plug in the drive to take advantage of the USB 3.0 speed.</p><p>The <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Serial_Bus" target="_blank">USB 3.0 Standard</a> provides for transfer rates of up to 4.8 Gbit/s about 10x of the USB 2.0 specification of 480 Mbit/s. I ran a simple test by&nbsp;copying 27.4 GB&nbsp;of Photos and Videos to the drive using the ExpressCard/34 USB 3.0 port and a standard USB 2.0 on my HP laptop. This is not a test using a software package to measure time; I am just a simple user so I used the computer clock. I also continued to do some word processing while the copy took place. On the 2.0 port, it took 40 minutes to copy. On the 3.0 port, it took 26 minutes to copy. Almost 2x faster than the USB 2.0 port in daily life. I'll take that improvement. The material provided to me by Seagate indicates an expectation of a 3x improvement, but that is under ideal conditions.</p><p>The backup and restore software that's included on the drive is powered by <a href="http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/" target="_blank">Acronis</a>. The software prompted me to create a bootable CD in case of emergency. That went very well. The backup software looked as expected. We can do a deep dive into backup software another time.</p><h1>Room for Improvement</h1><p>Some of us don't read instructions very well. The two-step process of installing the ExpressCard/34 drivers before inserting the USB 3.0 card could have been highlighted more. However, once I re-read the instructions, the process went smoothly. The power dongle off the USB 2.0 port is a bit funky, but given the availability of native USB 3.0 ports on new machines and backward compatibility, this is acceptable given the speed improvements.</p><h1>Conclusion</h1><p>This is another in the line of portable drives from Seagate. BlackArmor PS 110 USB 3.0 portable drive with USB 3.0 performance kit is a great addition to any road warrior's computer bag.</p><p><em>Jeff Deneen is the Principal at 17 STS Marketing Group, a company which is focused on customers, prospects, and using technology to enable companies to communicate with them. You can catch his blog at <a href="http://17sts.wordpress.com/" target="_blank">17sts.wordpress.com</a>. He recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama along with his wife, daughter, son, dog, and two cats. His wife accuses him of having a Bluetooth headset permanently implanted in his right ear. </em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com//ppct/auto/1240336793.usr1.gif" /></p><p><strong>Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/reviewteam.php" target="_blank">Thoughts Media Review Team</a>! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/reviewteam.php" target="_blank">Then click here for more information.</a></strong></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com//ppct/auto/1240336793.usr1.gif" /></p><p><a href="http://cmp.ly/Publish/user/CmpLy.php?cid=2" target="_blank">DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Jason Dunn
03-16-2010, 04:51 PM
It's a bit unfortunate that the speed improvements aren't greater than 2x. That's still a big boost of course, but given how infrequently we see a new USB standard (which is a good thing, actually) I was hoping for more. Do you think you were bumping into the physical limitations of the hard drive? As in, if you were using an SSD, you'd have seen much faster performance? Was the hard drive 7200 RPM or 5400 RPM?

03-17-2010, 12:15 AM
Yes, why would I want to carry around an extra PCI Express card (nearly the size of the drive itself!) and "only" getting a 2x speed increase? If I had a laptop with USB 3.0 I would take the 2x increase happily (I guess there is a chance that, as Jason suggested, that the test computer is limiting the speed as well), but sitting with an older laptop with USB 2, I can't see the advantage buying one of these.

I would go for a USB 2 drive and take the slower transfer speed, which in my case isn't a huge problem.

Lee Yuan Sheng
03-17-2010, 12:57 AM
Since this is from Seagate's Blackarmor line, I'd like to see a little detail about its encryption capabilities, along with the UI and ease of use.