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Pininfarina is arguably the most famous design company in the world with classics such as the Ferrari 308 GTS (of Magnum fame), Ferrari Testarossa and Alfa Romeo Spider all coming from its hallowed halls. Whether its office chairs, barbecues, or cars, Pininfarina has done it all and there are few companies that can give a product more distinction. It's a smart move then for SimpleTech to have enlisted its help in sexing up that most mundane of objects - the USB hard drive.
The SimpleDrive is one of the popular breed of portable external hard drives that, very usefully, can be powered over USB. We've seen plenty of these drives over the last few years and it's seldom we've not been impressed by them, though there has been occasions. So, can the SimpleDrive impress us as much or will it be a case of all looks and no substance?
The drive's enclosure is a very shiny, fingerprint attracting, plastic wedge, with a simple oval highlight on the top. It is available in five colours - black, white, red, light grey, and dark grey, with either black or blue highlights. The Pininfarina signature is emblazoned across both sides of the case, giving a hint as to the SimpleDrive's designers.
Personally, I think the design is brilliant. The taper from the back to the front, and the not-quite-vertical angle of the back, make for a subtle yet very pleasing look - reminiscent of the profile of a 308 GTS perhaps? The large SimpleTech logo detracts slightly from the overall effect but I'll forgive it that much. The sleek styling also makes for a very pocket friendly piece of kit.
As mentioned in our review of the similarly sleek Western Digital (WD) Portable hard drive, it's worth remembering that the shiny look is desirable but isn't necessarily the most practical for everyday life as it's prone to scratches. That said, this drive is noticeably sturdier than the WD drive so at least it will stay in one piece even if it is covered in scratches.
The drive is available in capacities ranging from 120GB to 320GB. They all use drives spinning at 5,400rpm with 8MB of cache and use the USB 2.0 standard for data transfer. The one I'm looking at here is the 120GB version. It weighs 165g and has dimensions of 80 x 125 x 20mm, which is about typical for one of these drives.