Lately, many manufacturers have been on a “fashion” kick, attempting to add some chic and zazzle to devices. With the boom of wearable tech underway, consumers are more interested in products that don’t look hideous while still retaining performance. To some, this is a new trend, although many more know otherwise.
There have been many companies designing goods that focus on power and appearance with equal measure. Take Apple products, for instance. There’s little denying the attention set to physical detail as well as performance. However, Apple hasn’t been the only company who has held higher standards for appearance in devices.
When Brinell asked if I wanted to check out one of their latest, solid-state drives (a 250GB one), who was I to say no to beauty? The best craftsmen don’t hold back when it comes to passion, but does the performance stand up to expectations? Read on and find out!
You have to hand it to German design. Nothing feels more luxurious than having performance matched by beauty, and that’s what you get when opening the box of one of Brinell’s solid-state drives (SSD). Since I had the option, I chose the black carbon “engineered” look. They can also come in “understatement” wood and “elegant” leather as well. You can’t really pick a wrong one with any of them.
In the hand, the Brinell SSD feels very thin and light. I’ve been so used to handling smartphones, external battery packs, and even HDDs. At only 9mm (⅜ inch) and 120g (4.2oz), it’s hard not to hold it and admire the craftsmanship.
I’m a sucker for brushed aluminum, which makes up the main body of the drive. While most external drives present the USB port a short side, Brinell placed theirs right in the middle of the top end. I say top, because the bottom left of the Brinell SSD has both a smaller rounded corner as well as the company name etched into the carbon fiber.
I’m a sucker for carbon fiber too. Not only does it present some awesome physical properties (e.g. low weight, high strength, temperature tolerance), but the pattern has some pop to it. Although the thin carbon fiber layers are adhered to the drive, they’re slightly inset as to lie flush with the metal. Run your finger all the way around and you won’t be able to feel any lip or edge. However, upon closer, visual inspection, I can see that the carbon fiber isn’t perfectly centered. But since we’re talking about a difference measured by the thickness of strands of hair, it gets a total pass.
Included with the Brinell SSD is a USB 3.0 cable, a leather pouch, a Town Talk microfiber cleaning cloth, and a silk cloth (part of the packaging, but it cleans my glasses rather nicely so I’ll take it). The drive fits in the pouch well, but leaves little room leftover for the cable to tuck inside as well. You can cram it; it just won’t look that great.
Stored on the drive are useful programs for your data: TrueCrypt 7.1a and PureSync. PureSync is straightforward with a good UI for performing syncing tasks. There are a number of customizations, so it’s definitely recommended to go over all the options first.
TrueCrypt is excellent for anyone who wishes to encrypt their drive and safeguard personal data. Once you grasp the drive-mounting process, access and encryption is a breeze. Depending on how complex of an algorithm used and the total volume size, it can take a while to complete. But the upside is that anyone who simply plugs the encrypted drive in to view its contents will think it’s empty and unformatted.
No matter how good a piece of tech looks, it’s going to have to deliver, lest it end up as a fancy paperweight. The Brinell SSD packs a Samsung 840 EVO hard disk, which boasts a read speed of up to 420 MB/s when plugged into a USB 3.0 port. Although it’s compatible with USB 2.0, the speed difference is significant.
I ran tests using a Samsung UltraBook running Windows 8.1. With the standard USB 2.0 port, the Brinell SSD rounds out at 30 MB/s read speed and 25 MB/s write speed. This puts it on par with other external USB 2.0 drives I own and regularly use. It’s not bad, so long as you have some patience while transferring many gigabytes worth of files. However, once paired with the USB 3.0 port, the read and write speeds of the Brinell SSD jumped up to 423 MB/s and 386 MB/s, respectively.
These speeds are nothing short of impressive, considering that these are functional rates and not just a singular peak value. I double-checked the benchmark software’s results by using my smartphone’s stopwatch to time the transfer of 50GB worth of files. I copied a dozen video files and also thousands of MP3s at once, both to and fro, multiple times. The recorded numbers and simple mathematics came up with results similar with what the AS SSD Benchmark software showed.
There is no denying how beautifully-constructed this Brinell SSD is. This kind of precision-engineering deserves to be on top of desks, showcased for all to see. If you’ve ever owned a brick of a storage drive, it might seem strange (at first) to not hide such equipment. But with Brinell, you’ll venture with new experiences.
This drive is not all looks, since it packs some serious hardware. Plugged into a USB 2.0 port, you’ll experience standard data transfer rates. But so long as you’re keeping the drive connected with USB 3.0, files will fly to and fro with alacrity. This drive is right up there for performance. Even throughout some big backup jobs, the Brinell SSD remained totally silent and cool to the touch – positive marks on both counts.
Naturally, the biggest challenge for widespread consumer acceptance of this product will be the price. Such a premium looking and feeling device fetches a premium tag. Personally, I wouldn’t let that aspect discourage. A Brinell SSD, be it with carbon fiber, wood, or leather, makes for an outstanding, unique gift. This is something that you can get for that someone who has everything – external storage is always handy and the craftsmanship makes it special.
Anniversary gift? Ladies and gents, this is something to keep up your sleeve if you’re one who likes to follow either modern or traditional wedding gifts (I do, and that’s my reference list for love and challenge). Leather is good for year 3, wood is good for year 5, aluminum is good for year 10, and any Brinell SSD qualifies as “luxury goods” for year 49. So there you go. This is the kind of drive you keep special because life is too short for ugly.