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Ultra Portable HDD Enclosure 2.5" Ultra Portable HDD Enclosure 2.5": If buying a portable drive is too expensive, why not build your own? We take a look at an enclosure that is truly portable.
Date: December 3, 2004
Manufacturer:
Written By:

External storage is a very useful tool in today's computer market. Not only is it external, so you can take it with you but speeds have greatly increased allowing for a multitude of uses. For a time period the only real backup methods that were available were things such as tape drives. Now all you need to do is plug in an external hard drive, run your backup program and you are done quickly and painlessly.

Ultra just so happens to make an external hard drive case. The Ultra Mini Portable Hard Drive Enclosure is on the review bench today. Utilizing a 2.5 hard drive, the Ultra hard drive case is aimed at the more portable market. Let's take a closer look.

Specifications
- Interface: IDE to USB2.0 and Firewire
- Supports: 2.5" IDE Drives
- Battery: DC3.6V - 800mA/H Li-ion
- Dimensions: 140 x 80 x 20mm
- Weight: 130g
- Window 98SE / ME / 2000 / XP, Mac OS 8.6 & Above
- Supports High Speed USB2.0 USB1.1 and Firewire
- Hot-Swappable - Plug-n-Play
- Compatible With 2.5" IDE Hard Drives
- Built-in Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
- Up to 10 Hours of Non-Stop Operation on a Single Charge
- Fits in your Pocket
- Easy Installation

Ultra Mini Portable Hard Drive Enclosure 2.5
The Ultra hard drive case comes in a high quality multi-colored case. It displays large images of the hard drive. It also lists all of the features of the drive. The drive case is wrapped in bubble wrap inside the packaging, so a damaged case should not be a problem. Included in the packaging is the case, firewire cable, usb 2.0 cable, and the battery.

The case has a nice look to it overall. The main chassis is built out of plastic with some aluminum accents. This gives a nice contrast between the black and silver color. The top of the case has ULTRA embossed into the aluminum. Above the aluminum accent is the power and activity LEDs.

Each of the sides features a small jut-out at the back. One side, the jut-out is the power switch, the other is just there for balance. As you can see, the rear of the drive case features all of the connectors. On the back starting from the left is the mini-USB connector, 2 six-pin firewire connectors and finally the DC-In. The DC-in is not always required as the hard drive case includes a battery as shown below.

Inside the case there is the 2.5 hard drive connector. In the picture you will notice the cut-out in the board. This is where the Li-ion battery is installed. The included battery should provide up to 10 hours of hard drive use. This feature allows you to plug the hard drive into un-powered USB ports as well as other options.

Installation wise you just plug in the battery and using the included double-sided tape, attach it to the case. After this you slide the hard drive into place and screw the hard drive cases cover down. All that is required now is to partition the drive appropriately according to your setup and you have a nice portable hard drive.

Testing
Testing was performed using the following system:
Asus A7N8X-Deluxe Rev 2.0
AMD Athlon 1700+ @ 12.5 x 170
1024MB Corsair PC4000
Seagate 200GB SATA
Fujistu 40GB 2.5 Hard drive
Windows XP SP1

Testing was performed using HD Tach 2.70. Tests were run using three different setups, hard drive plugged into IDE, USB 2.0, Firewire. All tests are shown below. Please note that the hard drive IDE test should be used as a baseline test, and does not show the results of the hard drive in the enclosure.


Fujitsu 40GB IDE


Fujitsu 40GB USB 2.0


Fujitsu 40GB Firewire

As you can see from the results, the Ultra Hard drive case did pretty good. Random access times increased 9.7%, which is regular for a USB drive. Transfer rates took the largest hit, dropping by 65.3%. This is not too say that the hard drive case is a slouch though. It still boast almost 30MB/s, which is fairly quick. Using the drive with Firewire is even better. Random access time is the same between the two. Transfer rates were better than using it under USB 2.0. The Ultra hard drive dropped 51% as compared to the drive in IDE mode. Obviously it is better to run the drive using the Firewire connection, but not all computers have this. Having both USB 2.0 and Firewire expands the usability of the drive.

Conclusion
The Ultra Hard Drive case was an interesting product. This product is aimed at the portable market. Including a Li-Ion battery allows you to expand the battery life on your notebook if you are on the go, and also allows more options in where you can hook the drive up. Looks wise the drive was pretty good. It has a nice outer shell, built from plastic with aluminum accents. Durability wise, obviously it will not last as long as if the frame was made from aluminum, but it is fairly durable. The only real beef with the casing was the power button. Having it integrated into the little bump-out makes it a bit of a pain to turn on. If you have slightly fat fingers you might need a pen or something to push the button in.

In terms of performance (for 2.5" drives) and usability, the drive case was very good. It performed well under both USB 2.0 and Firewire connections. Including both connections allows for a larger amount of computers to use the drive. If your system does not include firewire, you simply use the drive as a USB 2.0 hard drive. If you system does include firewire though, it is as tested, advantageous to use it with this connection. While 3.5" drives tend to be faster, the 2.5" drive's size is small enough to make it easily portable, and the battery allows an even higher amount of portability. All you really need to do is add a hard drive and go.

Pros: Built in battery, easily portable, both USB 2.0 and firewire connectivity

Cons: Plastic frame, power button hard to press in.

Overall: The Ultra Portable HDD Enclosure includes a lot of important features. It is easy to transport because of the size and the included battery. Implementation of both connectivity methods is also a major plus. If small and portable and easy connectivity are on your list, take a look at this drive.

If you have Questions or Comments on this or any other review, feel free to use our Forums.

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