3.0 star rating

Fabrik SimpleTech Signature Mini (320GB) Review

Pros: Stylish design; Free 2GB of online backup; Encryption software;
Cons: Mediocre transfer speeds;
The Verdict: An eye-catching design and 2GB of free online backup make this portable storage drive stand out.



Backing up to a portable external drive is a heck of a lot smarter than backing up to your notebook’s own drive, but what happens if something goes awry with your portable drive? Fabrik adds another layer of protection with its SimpleTech Signature Mini (320GB). It comes with 2GB of free online backup, giving you a plan B should disaster strike.

Article Continued Below

Design and Durability

With an aesthetic crafted by Pininfarina, an icon in Italian sports car design, the Signature Mini eschews the boxy body found on typical external hard drives for one with sleek curves. Our unit came in a sexy Black Cherry red body, but a slew of other colors are available for tech fashionistas based on capacity: Blueberry (160GB, $99.99), Espresso (500GB, $229), and Cayenne or Ice (250GB, $129). Some other colors are available at the moment, such as Bubblegum and Marshmallow, but Fabrik plans to discontinue these after this fall.

Measuring 4.9 x 3.1 x 0.7 inches, the drive is a bit too large to slide into anything smaller than a cargo-pants pocket, but at 5.7 ounces, it’s lightweight. A red light on top signifies that the drive is powered on, while an adjacent, pulsating blue light indicates when it’s reading or writing data. The drive houses elastomeric foam pads to reduce shock; it also features rubberized paint for better in-hand grip and can withstand a 1-meter drop.


Once we connected the dual-headed USB 2.0 cable (the second head is used to power the drive when additional juice is required), we used the LAPTOP File Copy Test to transfer a 5GB folder of music, video, photos, and documents to the Signature Mini. Writing the file took 6 minutes and 18 seconds (or 13.5 MBps), nearly 10 MBps slower than the similarly sized Buffalo 320GB MiniStation TurboUSB (22.3 MBps). Our read test saw the drive transfer the same folder in 4 minutes and 8 seconds—a rate of 20.6 MBps, which lags behind the Buffalo MiniStation’s 41.5 MBps mark. Although the drive is plug-and-play on Windows PCs, you must format it before use when attempting to back up data from within Mac OS X.

Backup Software

In a convenient move, Fabrik’s Local Backup (powered by ArcSoft TotalMedia Backup and Record) for both Mac OS X and Windows comes preinstalled on the device. You can choose to schedule an automatic full data backup (which copies all selected files) or incremental backups (which includes new files and older ones that have been changed since the previous backup) on a daily or weekly basis. The software goes beyond simple backups; multimedia mavens can use it to duplicate, burn, and rip CDs as well. Files are protected with 128-bit SSL encryption.

If you’d like to double the protection of your most cherished files, you can download the Windows 2000, XP, and Vista–compatible Fabrik Ultimate Backup software (backup.fabrik.com) to send 2GB of data to the cloud for free, or upload an unlimited amount of data for $4.95 per month. We liked that the configuration tool allowed us to select which files to back up (either files on our PCs or files on the Signature Mini) and determine when the software would automatically begin backing up data, such as when our PC was idle. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s definitely helpful.

Media Sharing

The Signature Mini comes with a free Joggle account, an online application that consolidates all of your photos, music, and video into one convenient location. Joggle lets you share content without requiring the recipient to register for an account (or to log in if they have an account). You can also embed slideshows and playlists into Web pages. Joggle, unfortunately, isn’t set to launch publicly until the fall, but interested parties can sign up for the service on its Web site, www.joggle.com. Potential users will be notified via e-mail when Joggle is available.


We would like to have seen faster read and write speeds—and the Ultimate Backup software preinstalled on the drive—but the $169 Fabrik SimpleTech Signature Mini (backed by a three-year warranty) is a good-looking and versatile hard drive.

Tags: Fabrik SimpleTech Signature Mini (320GB), Fabrik, portable hard drives, Storage, reviews, business

Technical Specifications
Fabrik SimpleTech Signature Mini (320GB)

Rotational Speed5,400 rpm
Read/Write Speed20.6 MBps/13.5 MBps
Size4.9 x 3.1 x 0.7 inches
Weight5.7 ounces
All Product Types Accessories eReaders Laptops Networking Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS AVADirect Averatec BeagleBone BenQ CTL Corp. CyberPowerPC Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Eurocom Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Google Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo Maingear MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Razer Sager Samsung Sony Sony PlayStation Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv Vizio VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1136 x 768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1792 x 768 1900x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1600 2560 x 1700 2880 x 1620 2880 x 1880 3200 x 1800 3840 x 2160 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options