Launched at CES 2015, Samsung new T1 Portable SSD has been designed to create a “new category” of flash storage, somewhere between a USB key, with which it shares a very compact size and light weight, and a regular portable drive with which it can compete in terms of storage capacity. On paper, the Samsung SSD T1 fits the bill completely, providing not only raw performance and compactness, but also an easy to use encryption. There’s no question that it was unlike any flash storage that was on the market before. The only question left was: is it as good as it looks? That’s what our test unit is for…
Before we twelve more into the performance aspect, let’s take a look at how the Samsung T1 SSD drive looks like. It is much smaller than a regular portable drive with a 2.5” or 3.5” unit inside. This makes it possible to have it in the pocket (pants/shirt/vest) without even feeling it, just like a USB key. The biggest physical difference with a USB key is the need for a cable, which increases the overall bulk slightly. I wonder if users will ask for an integrated connector or not (drop a comment, if you have an opinion).
Minus the cable, the T1 SSD has an elegant encasing made of plastic. The textured part visible in the photos provides additional grip when you manipulate it. The unit is so light that I doubt that it would break if you dropped it. SSDs are already resilient to shocks, but a light weight reduces the final force of a drop. When you grab a T1 SSD for the first time, it feels like you’re given an empty unit. A bit weird, but you get used to it.
OK, so performance is part of the attraction here, so I’ve prepared a directory of data that I actually use regularly. It contains some movies and other files that I typically access during laptop or smartphone reviews. There are 65 files of various sizes, which occupy 3.69GB in total. The 10 movie files represent 3.53GB, and the other 167MB are split between music, images and documents. I don’t have every single flash storage to compare this with, but I have a selection of popular ones, new and old, just to give you a wide view. Here’s the performance charts – lower is better:
Test setup: Windows 8.1 PC (my main PC, with lots of apps), Intel DX79SI motherboard, Intel Core i7-3960X at 3.3GHz, 32GB of RAM. Source disk is a Samsung SSD 830. The destination is Samsung T1 SSD (over USB 3.0). "IT DOES NOT GET BETTER THAN THAT"
Since I don’t have all the latest USB Keys or Portable drives, I can’t completely vouch that the Samsung T1 SSD Portable Drive is the absolute fastest (if another manufacturer wants to get a shot to enter the graph, contact me while I still have the test unit), but I’m pretty sure that it is, because if you look at the speed of an internal transfer from one SSD to the other, that’s just a hair faster than a copy to the T1. While you may have different performance numbers depending on your motherboard, etc.… the internal copy is pretty much the “speed of light” (an expression to say that it can’t go faster) for this particular operation.
Having an external drive copy being nearly as fast as an internal one – it doesn’t get better than that. Oh, and by the way, I did all these copies with the T1 SSD full disk encryption ON.
Security (easy, efficient)
That last paragraph was a good leg to the security aspect of this portable drive. Since it is so small and since it can contain up to 1TB of data (depending on the version you buy), any loss or theft could put a huge quantity of data at risk. Even if someone gets it from you for just a minute, we’ve already shown that this person could copy 10GB worth of data in that time.
Samsung knows it, and has designed this product with security built-in from the get go. I was curious to see how it worked, but it is rather quite simple.
Upon first use, you can decide to use a password and encryption. If you do, you will be asked for a password. I recommend using a passphrase that is long but easy to remember, like “on April 10 I ran with Charlie my dog”. This is pretty tough to crack using brute-force, and not really easy to just “guess” either. Once you have done that, the menu will go away and your disk is now ready to do. That’s it.
I really like that there is no software to install, or Operating System settings to change. It’s dead simple, and the encryption is extremely secure. Without your password, it’s nearly impossible to get to the data – by the way, don’t forget the password, because no-one will be able to help you.
I’m very impressed with the Samsung T1 SSD. This is a great product that fills a gap that has existed for a long time. It’s finally possible to have “big drive” capacity within a volume and weight that is comparable to USB Keys.
Obviously, the price is the final consideration… ($180 for 250GB, $300 for 500GB and $600 for 1TB) If you are using this in a professional environment where data is precious, I wouldn’t mind spending for the extra comfort and easy security.
If you need both performance and capacity, that’s also a good reason to get this, especially if you copy big files fairly often and don’t want to wait. The difference can be substantial.
Those are the two obvious scenarios in which I would want to use the Samsung T1 SSD Portable drive instead of something else. You may have more of them in mind.