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Samsung S1 Mini 120GB portable hard drive

June 29th, 2009
Compact and stylish S1 Mini 120GB portable HDD

Unlike the majority of external hard drives, the Samsung S1 Mini integrates a 1.8-inch disk. The 120GB drive sacrifices the storage capacity of 2.5-inch models, but allows for a housing with roughly the same area as a credit card. Along with the compact form-factor, the S1 also sports a variety of unique finishes including 'Piano Black' as featured in the review.

The S1 chassis measures 87mm long, 62mm wide and 15.5mm deep, with a weight of just 91g. The small size enables the drive to be thrown in a shirt or pants pocket, with the same feel as a thin clamshell phone. If size and attractiveness are not primary factors when considering a purchase, many 2.5-inch external drives offer significantly better cost-per-gigabyte ratios. The S1 does fill a void, however, between low-capacity thumb drives and cumbersome 2.5-inch external disks.

For the style-conscious owner, the top of the housing features a gloss-black finish paved with small, subdued circles. Depending on the viewing angle, the circles sparkle with multicolored reflections. A gunmetal metallic bezel surrounds the top panel, while the bottom of the housing is produced from matte plastic with a texture resembling leather. A blue LED, visible between the top surface and bezel, slowly flashes during data transfer. The drive also integrates a lanyard hole, although the accessory is not included.

The S1 connects via USB, which also provides power to eliminate the need for an AC adapter. Samsung includes a short USB cable, reaching approximately the length of the drive. The minimalist cable is easy to throw in a pocket, although a longer cable is preferred for most uses. Fortunately, the drive can be used with any standard mini-USB cable if additional length is needed.

Transfer speeds appeared to be on-par with other 1.8-inch, 4,200 RPM USB 2.0-attached drives. Tests showed read speeds of 27.9MB/s, with write speeds reaching 23.5MB/s. To reach significantly higher data rates, users would likely need a larger drive with a FireWire interface.

Samsung ships the software bundle directly on the drive, including SecretZone and SafetyKey. The programs provide typical drive-management tools, along with security encryption. Users can choose from 128-bit AES, 256-bit AES or Blowfish 448 encryption algorithms.

The S1 Mini is perfect for users looking for a compact storage device capable of holding more content than a thumb drive. At $135 for 120GB of storage, the S1 is not intended to compete with the cost-per-gigabyte of the latest high-capacity 2.5-inch offerings. The included software, stylish design and three-year warranty help to mitigate the price tag. Samsung also offers white, red, brown, pink and blue color options, along with 160GB variants.


Compact, pocketable


Decent transfer speeds

Bus powered

Cross-platform support

Software bundle

Included cable