Patriot Gauntlet 320 Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware

The Patriot Gauntlet 320 is identical in appearance as the Patriot Gauntlet Node, which should not come as a surprise to most people. The only difference between the Node and the 320 is the latter includes a 320GB hard drive out of the box; hence the name. As far as color choices are concerned, what Henry Ford once said about the Model T also applies to the Gauntlet. "You can have it in any color, as long as it is black." (Well, it is not like I am looking for a pink one any time soon, so this is fine with me.) The slick matte finish on the top and bottom is complemented by a glossy matte strip around the outer perimeter of the casing; creating a more interesting look, but at a price of running a little more scratch-happy. Three indicator LEDs at the top are present for the user's convenience. Each are labeled accordingly with small icons; the array begins with a battery indicator, followed by a wireless and power light. The wireless glows white, while the hard drive glows blue. Both will blink on activity. The HDD LED will turn pink when battery is low. For the battery LED, it will switch to red from green when it is done charging.

On the side, there are three controls and inputs. Starting from the right, we can see a DC power input, power button, and USB 3.0 header. The power button does not require a lot of force to activate, so it can be easily pressed if you are not careful. Inscribed into the top surface of the Patriot Gauntlet 320 is the word "Gauntlet" in stylized text. Since our review unit of the Patriot Gauntlet 320 is the pre-production model, a sticker that says "Evaluation Sample" is placed next to the inscription, as shown in our photo above. Personally, I would have taken it off when taking photos, but for some reason, the company asked us to leave it on. Well, who am I to question their request, haha. Obviously, the one you can buy will not have this marking.

Let's flip the Patriot Gauntlet 320 around as we take a closer look at the product from the opposing 3/4 view. The bottom design is a virtual reciprocal of the top; while not exactly identical, it is shaped accordingly to create a high degree of symmetry. Our photo above shows a standard label nice and center denoting the usual information, such as its regulatory certifications, MAC address, and the ubiquitous "Made in China" line. Good to know. Moving on, four rubber standoffs are placed at the four corners. However, the beveled bottom actually has more depth than the height of the standoffs, making them completely useless in practice. Peeling them off will reveal four screws behind for disassembly, in which we will get to in just a moment. Meanwhile, a strip consisting of four white LEDs is found on the side of the Patriot Gauntlet 320. It will illuminate in correspondence to the current battery charge status when the adjacent button is depressed.

Measuring in at 8.62cm deep, 13.9cm wide, and 2.44cm thick, the Patriot Gauntlet 320 is not exactly pocket size -- but nonetheless extremely portable for what it is intended for. The curved edges and rounded corners will allow you to slip it into your travel bag more easily. It tips the scales at 182.5g. Well, I think we have had enough discussion about the outside, let's rip it apart to take a closer look at its internal components.

After removing four screws and sliding the cover open, the user will gain access to the inside of the Patriot Gauntlet 320. A closer look reveals a 2.5" Toshiba MK3276GSX 320GB SATA 3Gb/s hard disk drive, specified at 5400RPM with 8MB cache. If you want to examine the PCB in more detail, you will need to remove a few more screws. While you won't void the warranty, I took the liberty to find out more about the important parts. This includes one ESMT M12L2561616A 2MB SDRAM on each side of the board for a total of 4MB RAM. An ASMedia ASM1053 SATA to USB 3.0 bridge interfaces the hard disk drive to the external USB 3.0 connector.

Two small PCB trace antennas in opposing orientation are placed on the enclosure cover, each next to a strip of copper tape. They are then routed to the wireless adapter installed on the Gauntlet 320's mainboard. Unfortunately, the manufacturer of the wireless adapter is not stated. However. the MAC address is labeled. Being a computer geek and all, I did a MAC address lookup, and it came out to be "IPCserv Technology Co". A Google search does not reveal any further information. Please do keep in mind that Wi-Fi and USB 3.0 cannot be used simultaneously due to heat concerns from Patriot.

A Power Source Energy Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery powers the Patriot Gauntlet 320, with a rated capacity of 3350mAh or 12.40Wh. A simple P=IV calculation shows us the nominal voltage of the battery is 3.7V, but it will vary based on charge status. The advantage of a LiPo battery over a Li-ion battery is its low profile and flexible form factor. It is also lighter and more resistant to overcharging. However, it has a lower energy density, and it is more expensive to manufacture compared to Li-ion.

One complaint I have about the design of the Patriot Gauntlet 320 is the way it is powered. You simply cannot turn on the device without the presence of the battery, even if you have an external power supply. How do I know this? Well, try powering it on without a battery -- no go. You can't even disconnect the battery while it is operating, because it will shut off immediately. I also tried connecting a DC power supply to the Gauntlet 320 by soldering two wires, one to the positive and one to the negative terminal of the battery input pins, to no avail. It actually needs the data pin for it to actually operate. In other words, if your battery is completely dead or goes wonky sometime down the road, you will be out of luck.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware
3. A Closer Look - Software
4. Performance and Conclusion