A-DATA Sport SH93 Review

by Reads (23,369)
  • Pros

    • Very small and attractive
    • Durable rubberized coating
    • Solid performance
  • Cons

    • Not as rugged as it could be

External hard drives are the perfect solution for people who need more storage in addition to what is included inside your laptop. Not only do external hard drives provide space for your music library, but you can use them to backup you main hard drive in the event something happens to your notebook. A-DATA is taking that reliability one step further with the new A-DATA Sport SH93, a shockproof and waterproof external hard drive that promises to keep your important files safe. Is the SH93 as fantastic as it sounds? We spent a month testing it to find out.

A-DATA Sport SH93 Specifications:

  • Device Interface: USB 2.0
  • HDD Interface: 2.5″ SATA
  • Interface Transfer Rate: 480Mb/s
  • Data Transfer Rate: Approximately 30MB/s
  • LED indicator for power and activity
  • Shockproof: Rated for MIL-STD-810F 516.5 procedure IV (transit drop test)
  • Waterproof: Rated for IEC 529 IPX7 (water depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes)
  • OS Supported: Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.4, Linux Kernal 2.4
  • Dimensions: 5.0 x 3.75 x 0.8 inches (LxWxH)
  • Weight: 11.8 ounces
A-DATA Sport SH93

Build and Design
The A-DATA Sport SH93 looks rugged and stylish when you compare it to some of the other portable hard drives we’ve seen in recent years. The external case is a little larger than most portable external hard drives on the market today, but that’s because A-DATA wanted to make this drive as durable as possible. The SH93 also looks a bit larger because of the wrap around USB cable storage built into the enclosure. The USB cord is conveniently stored into the slit on the side of the HDD, so you won’t have to worry about losing the cord. The SH93 comes in two colors: “racing car yellow” and “chili pepper red.” Capacities come in 320GB, 500GB and 640GB, so one of these drives should provide more than enough storage for a video library and all your important files while you’re on the road.

A-DATA Sport SH93

The case feels very strong and durable with very little flex when you squeeze the covers in on each side. The bright yellow top and bottom sections as well as the black edges of the enclosure are made of rubber to help protect the hard drive from shock in case you drop it. After a month of being tossed around in a backpack and being dropped (while idle and unplugged) several times in our lab, the case doesn’t show any obvious signs of wear and the drive continues to work. The rubber exterior also helps hide obvious fingerprints and scratches … unlike external hard drives that have polished, glossy plastic enclosures. The drive sits perfectly flat on a desk surface and the rubber exterior works like a giant silicone foot making the hard drive extremely stable on your desk.

Despite the apparent durability of the SH93, we were hesitant to test the full waterproof and shockproof features of this drive in our lab. If you visit the A-DATA website and look at the product page for the Sport SH93 you will notice some interesting fine print at the bottom of the page regarding the shockproof and waterproof certifications listed in the product specs: “It is a labotary certification which we do not guarantee that hard drive device, data, and housing would not be damaged with the usage at any condition or environment. Please do not drop, smash or splash on this product on purpose.” In other words, while the SH93 looks like a durable hard drive, even A-DATA admits it might not be as durable as it looks. In fact, the IEC 529 IPX7 waterproof certification was done with the USB port plug closed … and since the hard drive enclosure lacks any additional waterproofing around the USB port, this means the drive is only waterproof when it’s not in use. If A-DATA had included a water seal around the internal USB port then the drive might have remained waterproof even when in use.


A-DATA Sport SH93
A-DATA Sport SH93
A-DATA Sport SH93 A-DATA Sport SH93

Performance and Benchmarks
As previously mentioned, the A-DATA SH93 is offered in three sizes, 320GB, 500GB, and 640GB, which gives you the space to store basically anything you want or need. Since most netbook hard drives are limited to 120GB or 160GB, an external hard drive such as this one makes perfect sense. Not only can you store hours and hours of video and music to keep you entertained on the road, but you can backup your entire laptop onto the external drive for safe keeping.

The performance of the SH93 is almost exactly what we expected for a USB 2.0 hard drive. USB hard drives always max out at around 30MB/s transfer speed thanks to the limitation of the USB 2.0 interface. This is much slower than even basic 5400rpm notebook internal SATA drives. Although Firewire or eSATA would make this drive much faster, USB is still the ideal solution since it’s compatible with every modern notebook.

We measured the speed of the drive using the supplied USB cable. Using just a single power/data connection the drive was slightly slower than the latest generation of the Western Digital My Passport Elite. Transfer speeds stayed just below 30MB/s. Average transfer speeds measured by HDTune was 27.7MB/s, which was less than 2MB/s slower than the Western Digital drive we used for comparison.


A-DATA Sport SH93

Western Digital My Passport Elite

A-DATA Sport SH93

Western Digital My Passport Elite

In terms of real world performance, I was able to transfer a 7.98GB file from a HP Mini 311 to the A-DATA external drive in 5 minutes and 42 seconds. A smaller 700MB file took roughly 33 seconds to transfer.

Heat and Noise
The SH93 remained perfectly silent during our testing. The only time we managed to hear any noise coming from the drive was when we tried to connect three USB external hard drives to an unpowered portable USB hub plugged into the HP Mini 311 and the drive kept clicking on and off. You won’t be able to hear the drive during normal operation as long as the drive is getting the power it needs from a single USB port. External heat output was minimal, and the exterior of the enclosure never exceeded 87 degrees Fahrenheit in our lab where ambient temperatures ranged from 70-74 degrees Farenheit.

Conclusion
The A-DATA SH93 is an attractive and durable external drive with good build quality and solid performance. That said, we can’t help but question the true durability of this drive. The SH93 is only rated as “waterproof” when the drive is not in use and the USB port is sealed with the built-in port plug. When A-DATA includes fine print on their website telling you not to splash the drive on purpose it makes us question the waterproof nature of the drive even more. Still, the SH93 is a nice external hard drive offered in a range of capacities up to 640GB and retails for between $85 and $150 depending on capacity. If you need a reliable external hard drive for daily use then the SH93 makes a good choice … we just can’t guarantee it makes a good choice for white water rafting.

Pros:

  • Very small and attractive
  • Durable rubberized coating
  • Solid performance

Cons:

  • Not as rugged as it could be


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