Apple computers are well known for their style. Everything from their displays all the way down to the keyboards. It would make sense that all the peripherals would also have that same style. Azio has made a hard drive enclosure kit and they have geared it to match the style of the Mac Mini.
- Supports 3.5″ IDE Hard Disk Drives (UDMA 33/66 or ATA-100/133)
- Microsoft® Windows 98SE/ ME/ 2000/XP & Mac OS 9.0+ systems
- Plug & Play and Hot-swapping capability
- Ultra-Quiet Ball Bearing Fan
- USB 2.0
When it comes to drive enclosure kits there are a lot of things a company can do to make sure the user’s needs will be filled. The Azio enclosure kit includes many of those features but it is also missing some.
The first thing you want is enough room to fit a standard hard drive. Azio has provided that space. As you can see from this image a standard hard drive fits very nicely inside this enclosure. There are also several places where you can screw the hard drive in so it does not slip and slide around. This is important because, as you know, if a hard drive gets bumped too hard it can permanently damage the drive.
The next thing you want is the ability to hook up your hard drive. Depending on what kind of hard drive you have you will need different things. Fortunately this enclosure provides hookups for most hard drives. With UDMA 33/66 or ATA-100/133 you will be able to find a hard drive that will fit and work nicely. This is also where we find our first negative thing about this enclosure kit. Azio did not include support SATA. SATA is the next generation hard drive format which provides faster transfer speeds and larger drives. Without support for SATA, Azio has limited the usefulness of this enclosure and made it so it only supports older drives.
Another necessary feature is a method of connecting the hard drive to a computer. Azio has chosen to use USB 2.0 and the computer interface. USB 2.0 gives you a maximum transfer rate of 480 Mbps (60 MBps). This is relatively slow compared to a standard Ultra ATA/133 hard drive transfer rate of 133 MBps.
Because this is an external hard drive, it needs its own power source. Azio provides a very nice power cord. The thing I like the most about the cord is that the transformer is not on the plug. Instead it is like a laptop cord where the cord separates into a standard cord that you would see on something like a stereo, and that plugs into the box which has a cord that goes into the hard drive. This is nice because you don’t have to fight with a big plug that takes up two slots in your power strip. Also, if you happen to lose the power cord you can easily buy a new plug part from any electronics store.
In addition to the power cord plug on the back of the enclosure there is also a power switch for turning it on and off, a USB 2.0 slot, and a micro slot for attaching a lock so people cannot steal this off your desk.
There is a very small and very quiet fan on the bottom of the drive kit. This is used to keep the circuity from over heating. This does not cool the hard drive.
As you can see from the pictures Azio has done a really good job of capturing the style of the Mac Mini. Even though it is not exactly the same, it is close enough to fit in nicely with your Mac setup. One thing they could have done to increase the enclosures ability to blend with the Mac Mini is provide the option of buying a white power cord. The black power cord is probably more widely available which makes it cheaper and easier to acquire. A white one would have matched up really nicely with the Mac Minis power cord.
On the front of the device is a small LED display that will light up when the power is on and it will blink to indicate hard drive activity.
For mac users, having something work without much trouble is very important. Windows users are more used to having to fiddle with things before they work. I was pleasantly surprised when I hooked this enclosure up and it worked perfectly the first time.
To test this enclosure I hooked up an old 8Gb hard drive I had. I first attached the IDE cable to the back of the drive and then I attached the power cable to the drive. Then I placed the drive inside the enclosure and secured it with screws. After getting all the screws into the drive I put the top on. To do this you first need to plug in the LED activity lights and then place the top over the whole enclosure. There are then several more screws that need to be screwed in to keep the top secure. These screws are located on the bottom of the enclosure.
After getting the whole thing put together I plugged the power cord into the wall and the USB cord into my computer. After flipping the power switch I was immediately surprised to see my computer recognize a new device and set it up for me. Because this was an old drive it had already been formatted and I was immediately able to access all the data that was previously stored on it. I was also able to transfer new files just like any other hard drive in my computer.
Buying an external hard drive can easily cost you over $100 more than the equivalent internal hard drive. For $49.95 you can buy the Azio Hard drive enclosure kit and turn that internal hard drive into and external hard drive. This will save you over $50. With the stability and ease at which this enclosure kit works, I can highly recommend this to you. If you are looking for a kit that matches your Mac Mini then this is an excellent option. If you don’t have a Mac Mini but you want an external hard drive that just plain looks good, then this one sure fits the bill.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|