Cirago Smart Mobile Storage

Propane - 2007-07-31 15:21:49 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: Propane   
Reviewed on: August 23, 2007
Price: USD 79.99


Have you ever been on the road taking tons of pictures of a particularly beautiful landscape, when your memory card runs out of space and you dont have a spare? The Cirago Smart Mobile Storage could be just the solution to this problem. A 7-in-1 card reader is bundled with a hard drive and a battery, to allow you to copy all the data from your flash based card and put it onto the internal hard drive - a clever solution to a problem that hasn't been very well explored. Will this hard drive enclosure / card reader be able to keep up with other external enclosures, while adding some extra functionality? Let's find out.

Cirago, a China based technology company founded in 1996, has been on the rise as it continues to release products. It specializes in consumer electronics, computer peripherals, and IA products. They have two products on the market right now, other than the Smart Mobile. One is a mobile hard drive and the other is a Bluetooth dongle.

Closer Look:

The Cirago Smart Mobile device comes in a neat package that lists the functions that it has. The front showcases the product behind a piece of cellophane, while the back lists many technical specifications. The four sides don't really have anything exciting on them, however. The case is held shut by magnets and is easily opened. 




The box contains a few goodies. In the top part of the box was the drive already installed in the enclosure and the power adapter. Underneath the plastic that supports these two items is even more: an installation CD (if you run an older operating system), a short USB cable, a case and an instruction manual.


Closer Look:

The drive itself is aluminum and has something neat going on with all four of its sides. The aluminum has a very sturdy feel. The front LCD screen is 1.5"x1.0" and is prone to fingerprints, but is easily cleaned.







On the top is the Compact Flash card reader and on the left is the Secure Digital card reader, as well as two buttons that allow for the operation of the device.



On the right is the XD card reader and on the bottom is the USB outlet, as well as the charge outlet.



Closer Look:

The drive fits well inside of the case, which is held shut with a small Velcro patch. The case is made out of a leather feeling material and has a loop to allow it to be mounted on a belt. 






The back of the enclosure pulls off to allow access to the hard drive underneath. The drive is IDE and can be replaced with any 2.5" IDE drive.


Now that all the details of how the device works are out of the way, let's see how it performs!



All that had to be done to completely get the drive ready to roll, was to put 4 small screws in the back plate to keep it shut.  If you choose to install your own hard drive, all that is required is a small push into the connector while the drive is set to 'master'. After the bottom is secured, a charge of the battery is all that is left to do before you can start using the drive.


The USB and power plugs are located next to each other on the bottom of the unit. Plugging them in is the same as any other unit you have ever encountered.




No configuration is needed on the newer systems (Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Mac OS X, etc), as the device is plug and play. The LCD screen on the device will light up with different images when a certain function is being used.






When a transfer is occuring, a progress bar and counter can be seen in the bottom center of the LCD screen. When the device is tilted, as in most of these pictures, the LCD display looks pretty good. However, when looking at the LCD head on, the information fades and it is very hard to read (like the image on the right).



When the Smart Mobile is plugged in on a Windows PC, the standard "what would you like to do with these files" question is asked. Also, 3 removable devices are recognized under XP. These devices correspond to the three card readers on the device. In addition, the hard drive will show up under the hard drive listing, giving you access to all data on the drive itself.






The Smart Mobile has two distinct features that it is supposed to provide. The first is the ability to use it as an external hard drive enclosure, while the second is the ability to copy the contents of a flash based or micro drive card, to the enclosed hard drive itself. The testing of the former will be conducted by running HD Tune to determine burst speed, average read time, random access time and CPU usage of the drive. These measurements will be compared to an internal, 500GB Caviar that is currentlly installed in my system and attached via SATA. In addition, a 10MB, 100MB, and 500MB file will be transfered to the hard drive and the resulting times recorded. To test the latter function of the device, the same 10MB, 100MB, and 500MB files will be copied to a Secure Digital card, as well as a Compact flash card. The times that the device takes to transfer the files to the hard drive will then be recorded. 

Testing Setup:


As the below graphs show, the drive is not the fastest out there, but it is also designed to be transferring data on the road, making its slow speed better than the usual 'no speed' that people bring with them on vacations.


Higher is better.



Lower is better.



Lower is better.


Lower is better

While I was performing the testing, there were some things that came up that were not related to speed, transfer times, or anything technical. For instance, a few things are a little annoying about the unit, including the power button and the LCD display. To even see what is on the LCD, an almost 30 degree tilt is needed. This is so bad, that the first time I looked at the unit, I thought that I had a defective one. The power button also has some small things that irked me. To power the unit on, a simple press will not do. The button has to be held down for a period of about half a second, then released before the unit will power up. Everything else about the unit was very satisfactory.


The Cirago Smart Mobile Storage device is a very handy tool, especially for photographers that like to go on extended trips with their cameras. It provides many features into a sleek design that a lot of people can appreciate. While it only supports FAT32, it maintains compatibility with a lot of operating systems, making the Smart Mobile available to everyone. With the ability to use the drive as a normal external enclosure, is an added bonus, allowing the mobility of more than just pictures, but files, music, and movies as well. The one and a half hour battery life really allows for many files to be transferred, as the device will only be powered for 15 minutes per transfer, give-or-take some, depending upon the size of the transfer. The viewing angle of the drive is a little disapointing, but for a device that does what the Smart Mobile does, a little tilt seems like a small price to pay. Even though it is not the fastest of drives, I was very impressed with the Smart Mobile - it does what it is meant to do and most importantly, it does it well.