While portable hard drives and flash drives are ubiquitous because of their convenience, it’s not hard to imagine that some folks might still have a few internal 2.5-inch drives sitting around the office. The Satechi Aluminum External Hard Disk Enclosure ($39.99) is a quick and affordable way to access those drives without having to install it into a desktop. It also boasts versatility since it can accommodate both 9.5mm and 12.5mm 2.5-inch SATA HDDs and SSDs, respectively.
Design and Features
Measuring 0.6 by 3.5 by 5.3 inches (HWD), the Aluminum External Hard Disk Enclosure can easily be confused for an ordinary external hard drive thanks to its rectangular shape and curved edges. That is, until you pick it up and realize that it only weighs 6.8 ounces and has an oddly hollow feeling to it. At any rate, it’s tough to deny the aesthetic appeal of its aluminum alloy case and brushed metallic finish. Regardless of which color you choose, the end result is a handsome drive enclosure (my review unit was silver). More importantly, the aluminum alloy casing is thick enough to protect your drive, and it accordingly feels reassuringly sturdy in the hand.
Three sides of the Satechi Aluminum External Hard Disk Enclosure’s four rounded edges are ringed by black plastic. The bottom of the enclosure sports a USB 3.0 port (also backward-compatible with USB 2.0) and an eSATA output. A pink light is emitted from an LED activity light between these ports, and it flashes blue whenever the drive is in use. The top, meanwhile, has a push button that opens a swivel arm on the enclosure’s right side. Swinging the swivel arm open lets the user insert a drive in the enclosure. Since pulling out the swivel arm automatically pushes the inserted drive upward toward the user, removing it is just as easy. The only issue I encountered here concerns the closing mechanism. Instead of simply snapping shut, the mechanism forces the user to hold the open button down while simultaneously moving the arm inward. It’s a minor annoyance that doesn’t preclude one-handed operation, though, and it’s easily outweighed by the simplicity of the devices’s tool-free design.
The Aluminum External Hard Disk Enclosure is compatible with Windows (98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7/8) and Mac (OS 10.2 and above). It’s covered by a one-year warranty.
Testing the External Hard Disk Enclosure revealed that it functions exactly as one would expect. I popped in a 750GB Seagate Momentus XT HDD and a 240GB Intel 520 Series SSD, and encountered no problems with either USB 3.0 or eSATA connections. It’s also backwards-compatible, so it can also function via USB 2.0. That said, the USB connection entails using an included Y-cable. I’m not a proponent of Y-cables because they’re not as easily replaceable as standard USB cables and needlessly occupy precious USB ports. Moreover, the Aluminum External Hard Disk Enclosure’s included Y-cable features disproportionate strand lengths that don’t work well for systems whose USB ports aren’t in close proximity with one another. Still, I was able to get the drive installed into the External Hard Disk Enclosure to read and write data with just one strand plugged in, so I can’t quite envision a scenario where both are necessary.
Since the Aluminum External Hard Disk Enclosure is bus-powered, it doesn’t require an external power supply. Once plugged into your system, drives are swappable, so there’s no need to disconnect each time a new drive is inserted.
When one thinks of external hard drive enclosures, they typically envision a complicated setup process that requires the use of tools. The Satechi Aluminum Hard Disk Enclosure turns that notion on its head by offering an easy and highly versatile way to put all those spare 2.5-inch drives to use in a safe manner. While it’s got a few drawbacks—namely a finicky open/close button and the use of a USB Y-cable—its appeal is nevertheless difficult to deny.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc