|Hitachi LifeStudio Mobile Plus 500GB External Drive|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Dan Ferguson|
|Friday, 24 September 2010|
Page 8 of 8
LifeStudio Mobile Plus Conclusion
Since the drive is built with USB 2.0 technology it won't be winning any speed contests. But even large movie files transfer in under a minute. The installed applications consume a small amount of resources and can be run as one of many other open applications. The resources consumed make it hardly noticeable when a backup takes place. The drive comes formatted as a FAT 32 so it will work with any operating system, and the software is permanently stored in the drive's firmware. The net effect is a seamless user experience which is often just as important as file transfer speeds.
Most external hard drives tend to conform to a rank and file appearance. They're flat, square and usually about the size of a small book. Sometimes they may come with a flashy color or a stand, but they really all look the same. The LifeStudio line takes some small steps to break out of the mold. The drives come with docks or are styled like docks which makes them look more like active devices that should be used. The colors are modern, glossy and very attractive.
These hard drives are built to perform their intended task. The best example is the LifeStudio mobile Plus (model HLSMPUA5001ABB). This model is meant for maximum portability so it comes with a portable USB key. But even the main hard drive can be undocked and carried along for large file transfers or travel. All the parts are made from a solid plastic and are molded to fit together precisely. The dock has a magnet which keeps the USB key secured in place with the proper orientation, and the dock has slots which force the hard drive to be seated properly without fear of damaging the USB interface.
With regards to hardware features everything worked flawlessly. I couldn't ask for a better external hard drive (except for a little more space). The dock makes quick work of connecting and removing both the USB key and the hard drive. At an introductory level the software was extremely easy to use and worked without any problems. Setting up folders, backups and the USB sync couldn't be made any easier. This will probably satisfy a large portion of users. When it comes to advanced settings or configuration the LifeStudio software leave lots to be desired. If you can think of an advanced option then it is not available. This applied to backups, browsing and viewing content. Sadly, even the basic user interface was not entirely intuitive. Despite these drawbacks the 3D wall was very impressive and actually brought a new interest and feel to navigating files. The online content was exceptional and would make a great addition to an HTPC.
Hitachi's LifeStudio series aren't going to win any price wars either. The 500 GB "Graphite" version of the LifeStudio Mobile Plus can be found at NewEgg.com for $110. With some additional hunting, we found this model available for $104 elsewhere online. The other models can be found for less. This price puts the LifeStudio family a good step above other drives of the same capacity. A whole range of cheaper products can be found with similar hardware features. Other drives in the same or lesser price points have other features like security or backup software. The LifeStudio series is the only set I could find with dockable USB drive, backup software and content management software. The price is at the border where it becomes feasible for users to buy their own content software and put it on a cheaper drive. They may be able to get more control over the software by trading the simplicity of the integrated system. Another potential threat at this price are specialized media boxes designed to hold and play media from the network on the TV.
Hitachi has found a good balance with their LifeStudio hardware and software which provides a satisfying and engaging user experience. Hopefully they can seal the deal by rolling out an update with advanced options and a richer content player.
+ Dockable USB key
- No advanced options
Final Score: 8.95 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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