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Cirago CST-5000 Slim USB Hard Drive Review

Cirago header

Cirago is claiming that their new CST-5000 is the smallest, thinnest USB hard drive on the market. I’m going to stack it up against the Aegis Apricorn A-25 to see how the claim measures up.

First of all, this is a good general purpose hard drive. The specs from their website are:

  • Slim and compact solution for USB 2.0 Interface
  • High Speed USB 2.0 Backwards compatible with 1.1
  • Higher Performance Transfers up 480 Mbps
  • Plug and Play / Easy to use
  • Share any data, image, MP3, MP4, video and more
  • Supports PC (Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP/Vista), MAC (MAC OS8.6 or above) and Linux
  • Active LED Power Indicator
  • Aluminum Case for light weight and durability
  • Powered from the USB Bus at 5v
  • 3 year warranty
  • Package includes drive, protective sleeve, dual cable, and mini-CD. Instructions are printed on the packaging
  • Size: 3.0″ x 4.7″ x 0.35″

It is available in 160-500Gb sizes (I was sent a 250Gb to trial). Like most USB drives, the controls could not be simpler- the front panel has a mini-USB jack and a bright blue LED.

When I plugged it into my HP Mini with XP Home Edition, it loaded right away without the need for additional software. The information moved at a nice clip. I have no doubt that the 480Mbps claim is at least reasonably valid.

Cirago (left) vs. Aegis (right). I see I cut off the Aegis cord. It is about 6" and tucks into that notch on the side of the unit.

Cirago (left) vs. Aegis (right). I see I cut off the Aegis cord. It is about 6" and tucks into that notch on the side of the unit.

Because USB hard drives are so similar and there is not much of interest to write about them, I am going to compare the Cirago head to head with my trusty Aegis Apricorn A25 with 160Gb. What makes the Cirago special? Three things, really.

  1. Size: The Cirago CST-5000 is thin. It runs about half the thickness of the Aegis, even though it has twice the memory!
  2. Case: The Cirago is aluminum, the Aegis is plastic. This is even more remarkable when you see point #3.
  3. Price: Counter-intuitively, the Cirago is cheaper than the Aegis! In fact, the Amazon.com price of $81 for the 160Gb Aegis is higher than the Amazon.com pre-release price of $74 for the 320Gb Cirago!
Cirago on the left, about 1/2 the thickness of the Aegis on the right.

Cirago on the left, about 1/2 the thickness of the Aegis on the right.

Cirago, in front, is about as long, but not quite as wide as the Aegis behind it. The Cirago's cord is about 27" long.

Cirago, in front, is about as long, but not quite as wide as the Aegis behind it. The Cirago's cord is about 27" long.

In fact, the only things the Aegis does better are the cable and shock mounting. The Aegis uses a single attached and self-stored USB cable, while the Cirago uses a dual USB to mini-USB cable (the dual USB plugs help you power the drive on USB 1.0 systems). The Aegis has a 16 point shock mount, while the Cirago seems to depend on the toughness of the aluminum skin. I can vouch that the Aegis has never failed me even after being carried and dropped for nine months. Only time will tell if the brand new Cirago would do the same… but I am willing to bet it would.

A minor nit-pick on the Cirago: The claim of being the smallest USB drive on the market is sort of off-set by the need for a separate cable. On the other hand, it is pretty much a standard USB to Mini-USB cable, so you can use it or another one you already have for this and your Blackberry, camera, or other device. I love it when my toys share nicely!

Sleek, slim-line package; nice graphics; good speeds; aluminum house; nice price… a very nice package!

 

Product Information

Price:$61 to 75 depending on size (Amazon.com)
Manufacturer:Cirago
Retailer:Amazon, CompUSA, etc.
Pros:
  • Slim design
  • Aluminum case
  • Fast speeds
Cons:
  • Separate (but standard) cable

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Steve October 7, 2009, 1:59 pm

    I have never heard about this brand, so I wonder what kind of long-term quality and durability this drive will have? I have purchased external HDDs before based on a cheap price, and the drives failed on me, losing my backups. So I wonder about durability especially.

  • Noah Senzel October 7, 2009, 10:04 pm

    I took a 2.5″ hard drive from my broken laptop and made it into an external with a Rosewill external enclosure a while back. Cost about $10, came with all necessary tools (screwdriver, mounting screws,etc.) The drive itself is about 1/4 thick, not much thicker than the actual drive. Unfortunately it only supports up to 160GB drives, but so far I’ve dropped it several times (though not while the drive was running) and it still runs fine. The build quality is nice, made of metal with a matte finish. Comes with dual port mini-B (although in most cases only one needed) and a case. Either way, thinnest drive I know of, and a great addition for a netbook/flash drive alternative.

  • Mark Adkins October 7, 2009, 11:26 pm

    @Steve- I’m carrying it as my main (but not only, see the Back In A Flash review) backup and extra memory, so we will see how it holds up. I’ve been burned by cheap units as well- but I have to say that this thing ‘feels’ solid and well-made.

  • Mark Adkins October 7, 2009, 11:48 pm

    @Noah- I’ve used enclosures before, both laptop and full-sized with mixed results. My experience was that the laptop-sized units have been pretty bad, but that could certainly be because of the drives I used. After all, most of us use scavenged drives for these.

    If you used a NEW drive, Newegg.com offers several 320Gb for about $65. Add the $10 for the enclosure, and you’ve spent more than the Cirango.

    Apparently the Rosewill is about 5.12″x3″x0.6″ (if I found the right one from website, conversions done by Google). The Cirango is 4.7″x3″x 0.35″ (The Rosewill is closer to the Aegis I compared it to.)

  • Mark Adkins March 15, 2011, 11:02 pm

    FOLLOW-UP: Back around Christmas, I replaced my old Fuji Lifebook and my netbook with a 14″ HP laptop, that I dearly love. The point of this is that my new laptop has enough of a hard drive that I really don’t need the external drive any more.

    But I still use it as a portable media drive- it has a lot of movies, tons of photos, and all of our seasonal music on it.

    Small, fast, large capacity- still a nice unit!

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