Review: Samsung S2 Portable 3 1TB USB3 Manufactured: November 2010 Reviewed by: Seán Byrne
In this review, we will be looking at the Samsung S2 Portable 3 external 2.5” hard disk, which features a bus-powered USB3 interface, meaning that it is powered through the same USB cable as which carries the data.
USB hard drives provide an excellent way of carrying large quantities of data around, backing up your data as well as providing extra storage capacity without the need to open up your computer. The one main problem up until now is that while the actual hard disks used in the external drives are the same drives that go into computers, their performance is heavily crippled by the USB interface. Even with USB2.0, the actual throughput is typically around 35MB/s with most USB hosts, a fraction of the 100+MB/s most modern hard disks are capable of delivering.
eSATA aims to overcome USB’s limitation by providing an SATA connection all the way from the drive to the mainboard, which in theory allows an externally attached SATA hard disk to perform as if it was installed internally. The problems here are that eSATA is not backwards compatible with USB, very few laptops provide an eSATA port and not all eSATA ports provide power. As a result, pretty much all eSATA hard drives need to come with a USB port for legacy access as well as a means of powering the drive when plugged into an unpowered eSATA port.
USB3.0 (SuperSpeed) is a newer USB revision released in August 2008 that provides a 10-fold increase in bandwidth over USB2.0, bringing the capacity to 4.8Gbps. As a result, when used to connect external hard disks, the interface is no longer a bottleneck even with the fastest mechanical SATA hard disks available today. If you would like to find out more about SuperSpeed USB, see this article.
Samsung Company Information
Samsung is the world’s largest technology company by sales, manufacturing a wide range of consumer electronics and products from individual parts such as this portable hard drive to large soil excavators.
On MyCE, Samsung is best known for its data storage products such as optical drives and hard disks.
Further information on the Samsung Company Profile and their involvement with hard drives can be found on their website.
The Samsung hard disk came in retail packaging, as shown in the following images:
What’s inside the box?
The box contains the drive and a smaller accessory box with the accessories.
The following shows what the drive came with.
The drive bundle consists of the following:
- Samsung S2 Portable 3 1TB USB3 hard disk
- USB3 cable
- Carry case
- Quick Start Guide
- Samsung software (preloaded on HDD)
The bundle has everything one needs to get started. The USB3 cable will plug into existing USB2 ports, but will obviously be limited to USB2 performance.
Now, let’s take a look at the drive itself:
The top of the drive is glossy, with a pattern of O’s covering the surface visible under certain lighting conditions. Due to its glossy finish, it easily attracts fingerprints.
On the rear of the hard drive which we show closer-up here for detail, we see the product information label and a textured plastic surface. This surface is much like a leatherette effect, with the Samsung logo stamped in the middle.
Now, let’s see the USB port:
The USB3 port is a combination of a micro-USB size connector with additional pins to cater for USB3. In fact, a regular micro-USB cable will plug into the left part of the connector and the drive will operate like this, but obviously at legacy USB2 performance, even when plugged into a USB3 port. However, it does mean that if the owner misplaces the cable, they can still connect it with a legacy micro-USB cable temporarily to access the drive.
Operation mode indication
Like most external drives, this one has an LED that serves to indicate power, activity and even the mode of operation. When powered up, it flashes slowly to indicate activity and remains solidly lit when idle.
The LED lights up blue when initially plugged in, but if the host or cable is not USB3 capable, the LED will turn green after a couple of seconds and remain green until it is later unplugged.
The following image shows the colour in USB3 mode:
Now for the colour in USB2 mode:
Despite the white trim appearance above, this is caused by the camera’s flash, as there is no actual trim at the edge.
Most 1 Terabyte external hard drives today are either bulky desktop hard drives or consist of two 500GB hard disks. This hard drive is actually quite compact with the length and width just slightly larger than a bare 2.5” drive. The following picture gives an idea of how it compares with a DVD case and a stack of 20 compact discs:
The reason we show this against 20 discs is to give an idea of the amount of space this would take up if we were to store 1TB on 50GB BD-R DL discs. As we can see here, this is a lot of storage space in such a tiny package. Even the DVD case below looks huge in comparison! The drive is small enough to easily slip into most pockets.
The following are the specifications, based on the packaging, as Samsung does not have this product on their website at the time of writing:
- Capacity: 1TB
- Model: HX-MT010EA/G2
- SuperSpeed USB (Max. 5Gbps)
- Operating System: Windows 2000 Pro/XP/Vista/7
- Voltage: +5V DC
- Current: 1 Amp
- Manufactured: November 2010
- 3 year limited warranty
Now let’s head to the next page where we will look at our test PC and testing procedures…