I've recently seen quite a few devices with an environmentally conscientious design. These devices generally consume less power and are made of recycled, non-toxic materials. Today, though, I got introduced a device that put "green" in a different light.
SimpleTech has gone far and long to make their its new (Re)Drive external hard drive as eco-friendly as possible. The device comes in a package that contains just the essentials: the drive plus its power and USB cables. The cables are are taped to a side of the box. There's no other paper or plastic or any unnecessary packaging materials, as normally found in most other packages. Even the Quick Install Guide is printed on the inside of of the box.
Now comes the drive. It's partially made of...bamboo! It's true--the top and the bottom of the drive are two pieces of unpainted bamboo strips that smell and feel as if they just left the lumber mill. It's interesting that SimpleTech chose bamboo as the materials for the (Re)Drive. I am from Asia and know very well how bamboo is ubiquitous there and is the easiest plant to grow.
The drive, of course, has metal parts. Its sides are made of recycled aluminum that also work as a heat-sink that dissipates heat generated by the internal hard drive. The aluminum casing also helps cool the drive without using fans, which would use more power. The drive doesn't come with a power switch, but it has a mechanism that turns the drive on and off according to the usage. I don't know how this will work out in real life use and testing, but this seems a good solution to save energy. The (Re)Drive's power adapter is also Energy Star certified.
As an external hard drive, the (Re)Drive offers 500GB of storage and a USB 2.0 connection. There's no FireWire or eSATA support. However, it comes with a software driver that allows the USB 2.0 connection to work in Turbo mode, which promises to increase the throughput speed significantly.
The drive is estimated to cost about $160, which translate into about 30 cents per Gigabite -- a relatively good deal. Other than the Turbo software driver, similar to the Back Cherry, the (Re)Drive ships with Fabrick Local Backup software as a basic back up solution and it includes 2GB of free online backup storage from Fabrik Ultimate. The Backup service costs about $5 per month month for unlimited online storage space.
I will have to see via testing about the drive's performance and features, so check back for our in-depth review at CNET.com. However, just from its looks, I feel quite tempted to use the (Re)Drive as a cheese serving board. It looks like it will go well with a piece of Stilton blue cheese.