Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sleek Drive

Portable hard drives have become quite the designer objects in recent years. As the drive mechanisms themselves have become a commodity, the only real point of differentiation has turned out to be the external case design. Even a few big designer names have been lured into the category. It's surprising to me how much inventiveness and imagination has been poured into what is essentially a basic rectangular brick.

Pininfarina is a revered name in the annuals of automotive design. Car companies as varied as Ferrari, Peugeot, Hyundai and Cadillac have all hired the the Italian coachbuilder at some point to put their styling touches on everthing from sportscars to minivans. Known for their evocative flair, Pininfarina's styling themes are usually more fluid and curvaceous — dare I say feminine — than their competitors. Their designs stand apart from the more demonstratively masculine Bertone and the overt functionalism of Giugiaro. Occasionally Pininfarina has strayed beyond their traditional realm into the more mundane consumer product sector — and nothing is more static and prosaic than an external hard drive.

I love these little 2.5 inch hard drives. Their big benefit is not just the smaller size but the fact that you don't need a separate power cord and AC adapter brick like their full-size brethren — just the one data cable does it all. This drive connects via USB only (I prefer Firewire but the availability of those drives are getting rarer all the time) but still, it's 500 GB capacity performs well.

You may question the need for its streamlined shape in a product whose primary function is to remain stationary, but its sleek shape actually works nicely when sliding it cleanly into the internal pocket in my computer bag. It has a wonderful matte, black rubber coating on its sloping horizontal surfaces, which contrast well with the piano black inserts on each side. And to top it off, it sports the same distinctive script "Pininfarina" logotype on it's flanks as the legendary Ferarri Daytona!

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