USB drives are a dime a dozen these days – in some cases, literally. For most people they are a commodity to be bought as cheaply as possible. A rare few, however, think of them as a fashion accessory – and Brinell is a chief proponent of that view.
The company builds a variety of USB thumb drives, portable mechanical drives and portable SSDs that turn these mundane items into luxury accessories. To this end, the company encases its drives with high-end materials like leather, wood, and carbon fiber. The external solid state drives have a rigid metal lining with a divot that hides a built-in USB 3.0 connection. Opt for the smaller USB drive, instead, and you’ll end up with a quick-release hideaway USB connector that opens with the flip of a tiny button.
A product like this will live or die on its build quality. If you’re going to pay more for a luxury gadget, it’d better deliver in aesthetics. Fortunately, the company seems to know what it’s doing in that department. All of its hardware feels robust, yet it doesn’t rely on excessive heft to create the illusion of durability. Instead the products are just well-engineered, with nearly invisible panel gaps and top-notch materials that feel great in-hand.
The company’s newest product, which it’s promoting at IFA 2015, is its external solid state drive. It fits into the same case as previous 3.5” mechanical drives, but instead packs a Samsung Evo internal drive. Those familiar with SSDs will know the Evo is among the best performs in its class. Brinell quotes read/write speeds of around 420MB/s, which is right at the limits of what USB 3.0 can manage – indeed, it’s likely the connection standard, rather than the drive itself, that is limiting speeds.
Undoubtedly the company’s most unusual product is the Brinell Tower. This small cube combines a 2,600mAh power brick with a wireless transmitter and USB 3.0 port to create a dual-purpose wireless hard drive and smartphone charger. While the device comes with its own, small USB stick, it actually works with any hard drive that can connect over USB.
The Brinell Stick USB 3.0 is sold in North America with capacities between 16GB and 64GB on Amazon.com, starting at $59.99. If you visit the company’s European site, however, you can grab 240GB version for 199 Euros. The Brinell SSD comes in a 500GB capacity in North America, sold at $299, but a 1TB version can be had for 600 Euros. The tower is not available direct through any North American retailer; it’s 219 Euros online.
Obviously these are high prices, but that’s kind of the point. You don’t buy a Brinell drive because you want a good value; you buy it because you want something that stands out. Unlike many other USB devices that try to look unique, these drives manage it without resorting to gimmicks. They’re an excellent way to blow a few hundred dollars on a pointless luxury none of your friends will have.