A portable hard drive is essential gear for today's mobile worker, but most drives aren't designed to withstand the rigors of common work environments: factory floors, construction sites, military deployments, and so on.
If you need portable storage that's built to survive hard knocks, dusty deserts, occasional splashes, and the like, check this out: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Silicon Power (via Amazon) has the Rugged Armor A80 1TB USB 3.0 portable hard drive for $74.99 shipped. That's after applying coupon code CNETA80X at checkout. The drive normally sells for $89.99, but this Cheapskate exclusive saves you a sweet $15.
Update: Sorry, folks, looks like the coupon code has run its course. The drive is no longer available at the discounted price.
Though modeled in an attractive, desk-friendly blue, the A80 boasts military-grade protection against water, pressure, vibration, and dust. In other words, the guts are sealed up tight and sufficiently cushioned to withstand whatever hard knocks come their way.
That's good, but this is even better: the USB cable stows away inside a slot that's cut into the side of the case, thus greatly reducing your chance of losing it. That solves my complaint with pretty much every other portable hard drive on the planet.
The downside: it's a nontraditional, A-male-to-A-male cable, which means you can't just grab any spare USB cord if the included one does go missing.
That gripe aside, the A80 has earned mostly high marks from users and reviewers alike; CNET rated it four stars back when it had a street price of $135 and praised its "very fast" performance and compact design. Nearly 300 Amazon user reviews average out to 4.2 stars out of 5.
Recently I reviewed a bunch of external hard drives, most of which had capacities of 500GB or 750GB -- and cost more than the A80. For $75 out the door, you're getting a 1TB drive that also happens to be ruggedized -- and still manages to look good.
So the high capacity and low price must mean a short warranty, right? Nope: Silicon Power backs the A80 for three years.
The only thing this drive doesn't offer is built-in backup software, a hassle only for users who are buying it expressly for backup purposes. Of course, there are plenty of free backup utilities, so that's hardly a deal breaker.
Bonus deal: Calling all Mac users! StackSocial is offering one of the best software bundles I've seen to date: Name your own price for 10 Mac apps, including the top-rated screen-capture utility Camtasia 2 and the Windows emulator CrossOver 12.5. The bundle has a total value of $412 (!), and 10 percent of your purchase price goes to your choice of three worthy charities. There's some surprisingly good stuff here; the only decision you need to make is how much you think it's all worth. Update: Forgot to read the fine print! To get all 10 apps, you have to beat the average purchase price (currently $12.53). If you pay less, you get only three.
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