Holiday Gift Ideas: Storage

Network storage, hard drives, memory cards and everything in between.

The more digital content that we create (music, photos, movies, etc.) and the more we want to share it with others, the more likely it is we'll need some place to store it. You might be looking at digital cameras or music players on your holiday list, but just as important is storage that helps you keep the content stored or created with those gadgets safe and sound. Here are some storage products and concepts we liked:

Hitachi SimpleTough 500 GB Portable External Hard Drive

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The Hitachi SimpleTough portable hard drive is everything it promises to be. This 500GB hard drive can store large quantities of data and can take a beating. I found the hard drive to accept data pretty quickly, it took approximately 12 minutes to move 4GB of data onto the device, and only a few seconds to move a few megabytes of data. It's also really easy to hook up to your computer and start using immediately out of the package. If you often use the SimpleTough with the same computer, you can set it to automatically update certain files that may have changed like music, photos, or word documents saved to certain folders.

The best part of this device is its portability and toughness. First, it's small enough to fit in a small purse, about the size of an average paperback book. Plus, it's a self-contained unit, coming with its own tough USB cord tucked into the body. The unit is very easy to take from one location to another and instantly start using it; perfect for when you want to share large amounts of information with two computers that aren't networked. If you're a little paranoid about keeping personal data, you could even hide this unit in a sock drawer.

Second, the Hitachi SimpleTough can really take a beating. I dropped the device a few times, and it kept working. I had the device sit next to a glass of cold water. The condensation on the outside of the glass and the side of the SimpleTough, plus the SimpleTough ended up in a small puddle of water, it kept working. I also tested to see if its positioning would affect it at all. I tried using the device both on a flat surface as well as in a bunch of different haphazard positions, falling off my lap or the couch as I used it with a laptop, and it kept working regardless of its position.

Concerned that the USB cord might get damaged? It turns out that under the cord is a hole for another connecting wire. If the cord broke, I would probably have to take the device down to my local Best Buy or Radio Shack, because the port isn't a common port like a USB or mini USB, but I'm sure they could help me find the right connection and I'd still be able to access the external hard drive.

Cool Yule rating: 5 stars

Price: $121.99

Product Web site.

Reviewed by Jennifer Finn

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