Page 4 - Performance and Conclusion
Although the Patriot Gauntlet 320 is essentially an external hard drive with wireless capabilities, its primary purpose is to serve media wirelessly. Therefore, we will not attempt to evaluate every performance attribute of the drive by using a comprehensive benchmark set like an HDD or SSD review. Instead, we will only explore the performance characteristics and limits of the drive or interface using ATTO Disk Benchmark. Using data points collected from the program, a graph is plotted above, comparing its USB 3.0 and Wi-Fi performance. Please do note that Wi-Fi and USB 3.0 cannot be used simultaneously on the Patriot Gauntlet 320.
USB 3.0 was tested using a native port on my Intel Desktop Board DZ77GA-70K motherboard. Wi-Fi was tested on my Lenovo ThinkPad T420 laptop using an Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 wireless adapter, with the Patriot Gauntlet 320 placed approximately 5m away in clear sight with WPA2-PSK AES encryption enabled. Intel's Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 is the fastest and most powerful wireless adapter from the company at press time.
As you can see in our results above, the Patriot Gauntlet 320 delivered very respectable performance over USB 3.0, which is not surprising. However, its transfer rate over wireless is rather disappointing, especially considering this is a Wireless-N device. With WPA2-PSK AES encryption enabled, its read speed never exceeded 2MB/s (16Mbps). I don't think this is a network interface issue, but rather, a processing power issue. Obviously, at this speed, you cannot stream anything higher than 720p, but this is stated in the Gauntlet 320's specifications already. As obvious as it may seem, the Gauntlet 320 can definitely use a big bump in speed in this area.
Rather than simply charging up the Patriot Gauntlet 320 and then sit down with a timer to see how long it takes to discharge the device, I have decided to take a more scientific approach in quantifying the results. The reason I decided to do this is because traditional tests, while good, does not account for many variables that will ultimately affect the results. This includes variance in cell capacity from the manufacturer, grading and wear level of the battery, and the test condition load over time. In other words, your mileage may vary, and I don't like that.
To address these problems, the solution is clear. I eliminated the battery completely to take out the first two variables. Using an Agilent E3642A DC power supply, I set the output to 5.000V and soldered a flywire to the positive and negative power adapter terminals on the Patriot Gauntlet 320, since this is the nominal voltage of the power supply. Internal resistance is not important, since we are not measuring the voltage cutoff point, therefore not accounted for in this test. Just for reference, a fully charged battery will produce a voltage of 4.066V, and drop to 3.935V when turned on, measured using a Fluke 117 multimeter. Also, the Gauntlet 320 will not turn with the battery disconnected, so I have no choice but to keep the battery in. I subtracted the off current, which turned out to me 114mA, used to maintain the battery from the raw values to get a good number. From here, I separated my numbers into several scenarios to account for different states. This is done to eliminate the third variable. An Agilent 34410A high precision 6.5 digit digital multimeter is connected in series with the power supply to measure the current consumption of the Patriot Gauntlet 320. Since we know the milliamp-hour and watt-hour rating of the battery, we can easily calculate the battery life from my readings.
As you can see in our graphs above, Patriot's estimate of 5.5 hours is a bit optimistic if you are going to be streaming full time, but the company's advertised figure should be pretty accurate from a real life point of view nonetheless. To be fair, it is unlikely anyone will be operating it at max throttle to drain the battery from full to zero in one shot. In my personal opinion, the time you get on a single charge is very reasonable.
The Patriot Gauntlet 320 stems from the Gauntlet Node, a concept you will actually need to use to appreciate its many benefits. Wireless storage. Portable media streaming. Now equipped with a 320GB HDD out of the box, the average Joe will definitely appreciate the fact that it will simply work, without worrying about the need to buy their own hard drive. I am a big fan of the Patriot Gauntlet 320's simple and slick exterior, user interface that is intuitive and user friendly, as well as its generally very good battery life. Being able to access it via Wi-Fi or USB 3.0 is quite a convenience too -- and we haven't even got to its ability to stream to popular portable devices powered by Android or iOS (Heck, even the Kindle Fire). As far as areas of improvement are concerned, I would like to see some change in both hardware and software. Firstly, the power button may be too easily pressed. Making its activation force higher will alleviate this problem. Secondly, its electrical design. Requiring the presence of a battery to operate even with external power on is just poor implementation. If your battery is dead, you might as well toss out your entire Gauntlet. Thirdly, its Wi-Fi performance is too slow. Make it faster. (However, it might be a challenge to retain the same battery life with more wireless and processing power). As far as software is concerned, a page that shows its charge status and remaining percentage would be nice. It should be able to save more than one pass-through wireless network profile. With a few GUI fixes and refinements in a couple of other places, it would be perfect. All in all, the Patriot Gauntlet 320 is a slick little gadget that redefines what it means to take your media with you, plus all your files as a battery powered portable storage device. For about $150 at press time, it will definitely not be an inconvenience to the wallet, either.
Patriot Memory provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH Review Focus Summary:
6/10 means A product with its advantages, but drawbacks should not be ignored before purchasing.
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 6.5/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The Patriot Gauntlet 320 is a convenient solution to all your portable storage and wireless streaming needs.
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1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware
3. A Closer Look - Software
4. Performance and Conclusion