At a Glance
The Good: Slim, attractive
The Bad: Shows fingerprints
The Elite HE720 measures 4.6 inches long by 3.1 inches by just 0.4 inch thick. It's an attractive stainless steel and is roughly the size of (and reminds one of) a small flask -- a flat flask. It could easily be slipped in a front shirt pocket or a back pants pocket. The company calls it the thinnest of its kind (meaning 500GB and USB 3.0, I imagine), and although I can't independently verify that claim, I wouldn't be surprised at all by its veracity.
Has it been mentioned that it's really flat?
The portable drive weighs less than half a pound (0.4 of a pound, according to ADATA), and it remains extremely lightweight without feeling flimsy. It still has just a bit of heft to it, although one has to wonder about its shockproof testing. ADATA doesn't provide any specs, although it's safe to assume that it won't come near the durability of the HD710.
Although the stainless steel gives the Elite HE720 a very distinguished look, it does unfortunately show smudges and fingerprints quite easily.
There is a blue indicator light that illuminates when the drive is plugged in and flashes slowly when it's in use.
One downfall to the Elite's slender build is that it lacks the wrap-around cord design of the HD710 and HV610. This means that although you can fit the Elite in your shirt pocket, you will also have to throw a cord in there as well.
Like the other drives, the Elite HE720 is USB 3.0 compatible, which is really becoming much more the norm in portable and external storage. This is with good reason now that new desktop, laptop and ultraportable computers are typically including at least one USB 3.0-capable port.
The differences in the USB 3.0 and 2.0 speeds can be staggering -- the top speed for USB 3.0 is listed as 4.8Gbps while the top speed for 2.0 is 480Mbps. While these figures are recorded in perfect conditions, and your everyday user shouldn't expect to replicate these speeds, the actual differences are still extremely perceptible. For example, those who require the backing up of movies will pick up on the speed difference and save a great deal of time.
If you haven't upgraded to USB 3.0, the drive is still backward compatible with 2.0, so it will be ready for you when you finally do make the leap.
The Elite HE720 comes with automatic backup software and instructions. You have to download the application to your desktop, which took just under a minute, and can then determine which folders you want to designate as those to be synced for backup. The drive features a one-touch backup button located directly next to its port, and you have the option of performing manual backups or scheduling specific backup days and times.
The Bottom Line
With an MSRP around $85, the HE720 isn't all that much more than its ADATA 500GB counterparts, but it's a good choice for those who put a premium not only on looks but also on portability. Although it can't exactly clip to your keychain, it's hard to imagine needing to use a thumb drive again. Why bother? Those who require extreme ruggedness, however, should probably look elsewhere.