Seagate Seven Portable Hard Drive: Australian Review

If you buy a portable hard drive, you want it to be portable, right? And that means thinner and lighter is always better. To that end, the Seagate Seven is the world’s thinnest external hard drive — and yep, it’s barely 7mm thick.

The Seagate Seven is, by far, the thinnest external hard drive that you can buy today. As the name might suggest to you, it’s a mere 7mm thick. That’s the thickness of the thinnest internal laptop hard drive you can buy, and much thinner even than the mainstream 9.5mm thickness of most 2.5-inch drives out there.

And attention has been paid to completely minimizing its bulk — the edges of the 122x82mm drive curves off to a sub-4mm side profile. The other dimensions are equally svelte; You can only buy the Seven in a 500GB capacity; there’s no super-sized 1TB version because the extra magnetic platters wouldn’t fit in that crazy-thin chassis.

The Seagate Seven has a micro-USB 3.0 connector on one of its shorter ends. Apart from a single blue power and drive status LED, and the Seagate logo, the Seven has no other distinguishing marks on its satin silver finish; it’s really clean and simple and looks great. That one-piece casing also makes the Seven incredibly sturdy without actually looking rugged.

The Seven has a $189 RRP in Australia; that’s a fair bit more expensive than its $99 US MSRP but not unreasonably so. It’s also more expensive than any garden-variety portable hard drive you can buy, obviously, since it’s so thin. Whether you’re willing to pay that premium is entirely up to you.

What’s It Good At?

The Seven is so skinny. It’s really nice. The design is so simple, with just a few small accents like that central circle and the pressed edges that make the internal, 5mm-thick drive almost seem vacuformed to the 2mm of stainless steel surrounding it. Seagate’s simple Apple-esque packaging for the the Seven, with its braided USB-to-MicroUSB 3.0 cable, is also a nice touch.

It’s also reasonably zippy for an external spinning-disk hard drive; the USB 3.0 connectivity helps that along (as long as you have a computer compatible with the USB 3.0 standard, of course). I clocked read rates of 104MBps and writes of 102MBps, on par with other regular USB 3.0 external drives.

It’s great to see Seagate’s usual, excellent Dashboard backup software included with the Seven, too. Dashboard lets you set up a no-bullshit backup schedule or one-off procedure for your PC, and integrates with your iOS or Android device’s companion Mobile Backup app, which lets you offload photos, videos or other media from your smartphone or tablet and transfer them to the Seven or directly to a cloud storage account.

Everything about the Seven just feels expensive and premium. That metal casing means it’s basically crushproof, too, with Seagate claiming it’ll withstand being run over by a (small) car. There’s a three-year warranty on the drive inside, so no chance of losing precious data. If you need an external hard drive, it feels like this is one that will last a long time.

What’s It Not Good At?

The Seven is a little expensive, to be honest. At $189 it’s slightly more pricy than its internal capacity suggests it should be. It’s very much a premium device, with that braided cable and that metal finish, but you’re paying a little bit of that extra value for the Seven’s luxury looks rather than for any quantifiable performance boost. If you could pick it up for $150 or less, I think it’d be well worth that kind of asking price.

The fact that there’s no 1TB or cheaper 250GB version of the Seven restricts its potential market. If you’re buying an external drive to store everything, you might want something significantly more capacious. If there was a 1TB version, I’d be all over that. 500GB is a little light on long-term storage.

There are also significantly faster drives out there, especially SSDs, which start to become affordable in an external hard drive case around that price point. Sure, they won’t be anywhere near as skinny or svelte or attractive, but they’ll be much faster for smaller file transfers.

Should You Buy It?

The Seven necessarily hits an uneasy compromise between speed, capacity, style, and price. It skews first towards style, then capacity, then speed, then price. If either outright speed or a cheap price is the most crucial factor in your decision, then you should probably be looking elsewhere.

If you’re not hugely concerned about spending a little bit extra — and it is only a little bit, let’s be honest — then the Seagate Seven is an excellent external hard drive. It is absolutely beautiful as portable drives go, it’s more than fast enough for your everyday data storage and usage, and its 500GB capacity is more than enough.

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