For professional users, Thunderbolt has been a game-changing technology. It came to market well before most of us muttered 10-gigabit Ethernet. At the time, most large external storage systems used expensive and complicated fiber channel technology. Over the years, the single cable technology moved closer to the consumer space with products like the LaCie Big series and eventually to single drive portable products like the one we tested today.
Modern products have stalled in the professional product sphere for the most part. It's not a problem with the drives, but more of an ecosystem issue. Apple has adapted Thunderbolt 3 but the famous "Apple Tax" keeps many people away from the products. On the PC side, we see Thunderbolt technology shipping on more systems and motherboards. Most of those products hover at the upper tier of the market. Intel has dropped the licensing fees for chipmakers to build lower-cost controllers. Until Intel spurs motherboard makers to make Thunderbolt 3 a standard feature, it will remain a costly add-on that most users will not spend more to use it.
Professional users on the other hand have lower cost devices thanks to the emerging ecosystem that has gained market share over the last three years. Thunderbolt 3 with commodity Type-C cables has certainly helped. NVMe-based drives that just started coming to market in the last fifteen months also helped to lower prices by removing expensive RAID controllers and a second drive in an array to achieve performance targets.
The HP P800 Portable SSD costs more than what most users will spend on a portable storage device. The model we tested today sells for $449.99 but it gives you back the only resource in the world that is nonrenewable, time. At CES in January, we saw a number of companies with products similar to the P800. The HP drive was one of the few that looked retail ready and it's one of the very few shipping today. It costs less than the Rapide, but also ships in a massive 1TB size that TEKQ doesn't offer. The construction is not as robust, but the aluminum alloy is strong enough to absorb any reasonable rough handling or fall.
Overall, we really like the HP P800 Portable SSD but are more excited about future generations when increased market share will lower prices across the board.
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