Editors' note: The final rating of this review has been updated to reflect a discrepancy in calculation. None of the individual scores have changed.
We're not surprised to see the Maxtor Black Armor emerge in a time when so much confidential data is transported by external hard drives. The 160GB Black Armor drive ($150) is a portable storage device with built-in Advanced Encryption Standard hardware-based encryption to prevent digital theft. Unfortunately, this added security comes at a significantly higher cost per gigabyte. Unless you need an external storage device with the highest level of data protection, we recommend looking to a more wallet-friendly drive.
|Drive type||External Hard Drive|
|Connector options||USB 2.0|
|Capacity of test unit||160GB|
|Dimensions (LWH)||0.67x3.32x5.17 inches|
|OSes supported||Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate, Business or Microsoft Windows XP Home, Professional, Media Center Edition|
|Software included||Maxtor Manager software|
Design and features
The Black Armor drive isn't going to win any design contests; it's just a 5.17 inch by 3.32 inch black rectangle with a few silver accents and a small reflective strip on the front. The top of the drive has a single exposed USB 2.0 port for connecting to your computer, but, sadly, there's no FireWire.
It might not be the flashiest drive out there, but the Black Armor is all about internal security. Once you set a password, all your data is secured by Maxtor's government grade 128-bit encryption certified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The encryption itself is built directly into the hardware, as opposed to other external hard drives that use software to protect data.