Drive a hard bargain.
External hard drives aren't just a useful thing to accompany your computer these days. As we're digitally recording and streaming a lot of our content on TVs, surely a great chunky hard drive would be useful down there, too? Well it would be, and fortunately Buffalo have managed to put one together that isn't a massive hulking mess of wires and loud noises. We test the Buffalo DriveStation Media Hard Drive HDV-SA.
Available with either a 1, 2, or 3 terabyte hard drive on the inside, the Buffalo DriveStation has been especially designed to sit next to, or on top of, the likes of your DVD player and Sky+ box. At just 20 cm wide, it certainly won't stand out in your TV cabinet, and thanks to a very clever bit of physical design wok from Buffalo it can be pretty much hidden away from sight.
An inconspicuous media hard drive was definitely on the top of Buffalo's 'to do' list, and they've achieved it here with aplomb. First up, the DriveStation HDV-SA is one of the quietest 'heavy-duty' external hard drives we've ever tested, as on the inside there are vibration-dampening rubber elements, as well as the lack of any fan. This means that even when the drive is being written to, there is hardly any of the typical crunch and whirl of a disk drive, and what limited sound there is will certainly be lost over the distance between your TV and the sofa.
Smooth, sparse and black is the order of the day with the Buffalo DriveStation Media Hard Drive, and the only two ports, for power and for data, are at the back... kinda. Actually Buffalo have been clever in this department by bringing the back and bit more to the front. The power and USB 3.0 cables connect to a shallower section of the drive, meaning that the wires aren't poking out of the rear of the device. This allows you to push the Buffalo DriveStation Media Hard Drive to the very back of a shelf or cabinet, and the wires are free to trail out of the side.
At first this makes the drive look a bit odd; as if it has some kind of weird modular design, almost like a games console. Once you set it all up and place it by your TV, however, you'll see just how more practical the design has made it – especially as most TVs today are exceptionally thin and the amount of real estate for other gadgets around them is reduced.
The Buffalo DriveStation HDV-SA excels at plug 'n' play usability. It will auto power on and off and was immediately discovered by all the many gizmos we stuck it into. We were exceptionally thankful for the USB 3.0 connection, as those increased speeds over USB 2.0 are definitely noticeable. Getting your existing digital media copied onto it was a speedy affair, and we never had any issues at all when both recording live TV to it, or when reading from it to watch on the TV. It just sort of worked, every time. We like things like that.
So if the stark black looks aren't blowing you away, they're really not supposed to. The Buffalo DriveStation Media Hard Drive HDV-SA is the kind of thing that you simply need as part of a home cinema and entertainment set up these days, and this one is the business.