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Can a portable hard drive really be worth $100? There’s a company in New York who thinks so. Meet Glyph Technologies, the makers of the BlackBox.

We’re going to be looking at the 500GB version, which retails for around $99 (£79). There’s also a larger 1TB version, which goes for $130.

Given that you can get a 1TB external hard-drive for half the price on Amazon, you could be forgiven for wondering why you would splash out on the BlackBox. There are countless examples of drives floating about the $50 price range, including the My Passport Ultra by Western Digital and Toshiba’s Canvio.

But the value proposition of the BlackBox is intrinsically tied to the various value-added offerings of the device. Each drive is assembled in the US (New York, to be precise), and comes is backed by one of the most generous warranties I’ve ever seen for a tech product. But is it any good?

Introducing The BlackBox

The BlackBox is a USB3 hard drive which draws power without the need for an external adapter.

It comes pre-formatted with the HFS Plus file system What A File System Is & How You Can Find Out What Runs On Your Drives What A File System Is & How You Can Find Out What Runs On Your Drives Read More , which is the default for OS X. Given that the BlackBox is aimed at creative professionals, this makes perfect sense. HFS+ can support files up to 8 exabytes in size, whilst FAT32 tops out at 32GB. You can read more about how file-systems work here From FAT To NTFS To ZFS: File Systems Demystified [MakeUseOf Explains] From FAT To NTFS To ZFS: File Systems Demystified [MakeUseOf Explains] Do you really know what your hard drive does whenever you read a file from it or write one to it? Our hard drives can now store massive amounts of data, and that massive space... Read More .

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Like any USB mass storage device, the BlackBox can be formatted with any file system the user chooses.

The BlackBox connects via a standard USB3-B port, a cable for which is supplied. Given that the device comes OS X ready, I’m surprised there isn’t a Thunderbolt port Why Apple's New Thunderbolt Port Is Awesome [Technology Explained] Why Apple's New Thunderbolt Port Is Awesome [Technology Explained] I/O ports aren’t a technology that folks spend a lot of time thinking about. Let’s face it – they’re not sexy. Still, ports are important. As the interface between your computer and everything else, your... Read More on there, too.

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Initial Impressions

The drive comes in easy-to-open compact cardboard packaging. The box and contents are as utilitarian as the product itself, with few bells and whistles to speak of, and no documentation to ignore.

When the box is folded open, it reveals the BlackBox drive, resting upon a slightly superfluous bit of cardboard origami. Behind this, there’s a USB3 cable.

And that’s it, really. There’s no documentation to speak of, as everything you need to know is written on the packaging. You’re given an overview of the drive’s compatibility with various operating systems, as well as how it performs overall.

Design

As the name suggests, the BlackBox is… black. Besides the logo for Glyph and the word ‘BlackBox’, the device is a constant, unassuming black. It measures at 1.7cm in height, 12cm in length and 8cm in width, meaning it won’t occupy much desk space, and can be easily wrapped up and thrust into your jeans pocket.

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The drive is encased in what can only be described as ‘reassuringly thick’ aluminum, meaning it’s pretty resilient. Tapping against the chassis gives a slightly gratifying ‘thud’ sound, and there isn’t anything loose rattling about in its innards. The Glyph BlackBox simply screams premium product.

It’s also surprisingly scratch resistant. Despite being dropped a couple of times, the device still looks brand new. With that said, it is prone to picking up fingerprints.

This spectacular build quality, however, does come with one notable downside. Namely, for a hard-drive, it’s pretty weighty. If you’re carrying it in your jeans pocket, expect them to sag.

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The front of the drive contains three grooves, each with a mesh air vent. This doesn’t do much, besides break up the monotony of a solid black box. There’s no fans built in to the device for it to vent anything. It logically follows these open holes will greatly diminish its waterproof resistance, although I’ve not tried this out.

Finally, the underside holds two rubber grips. There’s not much to discuss here, other than they keep the drive secure and prevent it from sliding about.

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Living With The BlackBox

The BlackBox is exceptionally well suited to its role as a data-storage device.

Although it performs nowhere near as well as a Solid State Drive (SSD) How Do Solid-State Drives Work? [MakeUseOf Explains] How Do Solid-State Drives Work? [MakeUseOf Explains] Over the past few decades, there has been a considerable amount of work in the field of computer hardware. While computer technology is constantly improving and evolving, rarely do we experience moments where we simply... Read More , it does reasonably acceptable for a disk-based mass storage device. As previously mentioned, it connects to your computer over a fast USB 3.0 connection, meaning you get some pretty impressive transfer speeds.

Inside its thick metal case is a 5400rpm hard drive. This isn’t bad, but 7200rpm would be significantly better. This could have easily been achieved without any compromises on how the device is powered; be that through USB, or from AC.

Although there’s certainly room for improvement, the BlackBox is certainly no slouch. In just over one hour, I was able to copy over my expansive Home folder when migrating to a fresh install of OS X Yosemite.

In addition to being stylish, rugged and reasonably fast, the BlackBox comes with a generous warranty. So generous, it’s almost unparalleled.

Glyph promises that should your drive fail within the first year of its warranty, they’ll overnight a replacement to you for free. They’ll send it out on the same day you contact them with a problem.

Should it fail within the first two years, they’ll attempt to recover your lost data, although they make no promises as to any success. All this comes in addition to a standard three-year warranty, which offers a non-expedited repair and replacement.

This gives a great deal of reassurance, but remember the BlackBox is almost twice the price of most external HDDs. This is a premium product, and expect to pay a premium price.

Should You Buy It?

There’s a lot to be impressed with here.

The BlackBox’s generous warranty and free data recovery services give it a significant advantage over the competition. Add in its solid build quality, and you’ve got an impressive, high-tier product.

With that said, Glyph are asking a lot for what amounts to a bog-standard external hard drive. If it packed a faster disk, or came with Thunderbolt support, it might be a different story. But it doesn’t.

Our verdict of the Glyph BlackBox Portable Hard Drive:
MakeUseOf Recommends: Don’t buy it. It looks the part, but there’s not a lot to separate it from other, cheaper drives.
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How Do I Win The Glyph BlackBox?

Glyph BlackBox Portable Hard Drive Giveaway

The winner will be selected at random and informed via email. View the list of winners here.

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact James Bruce for further details.

  1. Rodel S. Mercurio
    November 21, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Thank you makeuseof for your review for the topic and giveaway.

  2. Mary
    November 20, 2014 at 3:39 am

    Nice!

  3. Sahil Khiwani
    November 18, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    I would love to have this device as this is something very unique in its own class and stable than any other branded hard drive in market. It's make, durability, design everything is on a premium approach and very important is the speed of data transfer comparable to other brands in the market.. More over its amazing warranty system and free data recovery services giving this device an upper advantage on other devices.

  4. Anthony
    November 18, 2014 at 10:41 am

    So it costs twice as much as some other drives, but if it breaks within the first year they'll send you one replacement without any thought. I think I can see how they can afford to do that :)

  5. Mary
    November 18, 2014 at 1:47 am

    would be nice

  6. Pat
    November 14, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Matthew, why say this?
    >HFS+ can support files up to 8 exabytes in size, whilst FAT32 tops out at 32GB.

    Don't be disingenuous. Try to be fair and compare apples to apples. Other portable drives, including "the My Passport Ultra by Western Digital and Toshiba’s Canvio" that you mentioned, cost less than the Blackbox, have a solid reputation, and come formatted with NTFS (not FAT32).

    "The maximum theoretical file size on NTFS is 16 EB (16 × 10246 or 264 bytes) minus 1 kB or 18,446,744,073,709,550,592 bytes. With Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, the maximum file size implemented is 256 TB minus 64 KB or 281,474,976,645,120 bytes." (Wikipedia)

  7. bittu
    November 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    i need this because in 2014 ending still i am using 40 gb and ram 3 gb so please!!!

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