Over the years the portable hard drive market has become increasingly competitive and somewhat overcrowded. A quick search at Newegg.com reveals around 50 portable 500GB hard drives based on the 2.5" form factor, with half of them priced at around $100 or less, and just a handful featuring rugged designs.
The A-DATA SH93 is an eye catching product that delivers on all fronts. Its build quality is first-class and the durability it offers far exceeds that of the majority of 2.5" portable drives, which often feature flimsy plastic bodies that are easily damaged.
The SH93 features a 500GB Fujitsu MJA2500BH hard drive, available online for around $90. This means A-DATA is only charging an extra $20 for their rugged housing -- not a bad deal considering a cheap housing will cost you $10 anyway, and going for a quality enclosure separately could set you back significantly more. Two other rugged drives we could find on offer - the LACIE Rugged 500GB and the iomega eGo BlackBelt 500GB - were priced closely to the A-DATA SH93 however.
In terms of performance, the SH93 was more than capable of topping out the USB 2.0 bus, so anything more substantial than its Fujitsu innards would've been a waste. Another could have been the story if the SH93 provided eSATA support for added performance and greater flexibility. With powered eSATA ports becoming a more common sight, this could have given A-DATA's portable drive the necessary edge against its competitors, though we imagine the more ubiquitous USB connectivity gets them the broadest consumer reach.
Due to the use of thick rubber to protect the enclosure and the drive within, the A-DATA SH93 is bulky compared to your average portable 2.5" drive. It will still fit in your pocket though, so it's not deal breaker either.
Although it was added for convenience, we were rather annoyed with the SH93's wrap-around USB cable. In theory it makes perfect sense to have the cable integrated to the device, but the finished product ended up being a little too clumsy. Removing this cable for use was not a problem, but reattaching it to the enclosure was more often than not a nuisance.
Overall we were impressed with the durability of the SH93, providing a level of toughness unmatched by the majority of portable hard drives. A-DATA has also kept the drive at a very competitive price point of $110 for the 500GB version. If you are seeking for a compact and capacious storage device that can survive knock, bumps and even submersions, then the A-DATA SH93 is the product for you.