SUMMARY: A very handy way to take the office home and vice-versa; also a super way to turn one box into a game machine, office machine, NT development platform and Linux learning machine.
We get to test a fair amount of stuff – some of it can be risky and trash a hard drive. I can’t afford to jeopardize my “work” machine by using it as a testing platform. I get around this by having multiple drives and connecting them up depending on the situation.
This of course entails disconnecting/connecting ribbon cables etc. Sometimes I have the hard drive outside the machine for lack of space. A simple, quick changeable system would be a nice addition.
Kingwin, the manufacturers of this product, were kind enough to send us a product that meets my wish list – easy to change, portable and secure. I’ve seen products like this at computer shows but they are of cheap plastic construction and will not stand up over time. As the picture below shows, the product called HDD Mobile rack is totally unobtrusive – uses a spare 5.25″ slot – and is made of aluminum. What’s great is you only need one rack, so if you have a burner and CD ROM, you usually have one other slot empty.
The pic below shows the system’s two pieces – the rack on the left which is screwed into a 5.25″ slot, and the hard drive carrier. This system can also be used with other peripherals – ZIP, LS120, TR-4 Tape and Flash Reader, for example.
The hard drive carrier includes a small cooling fan in the back. This particular model is certified to ATA66 and drives up to 10,000 rpm. The aluminum casing also serves to conduct drive heat. The grill in the front is removable, but I left it in place.
The drive is inserted into the carrier using standard drive screws. Hook up power and the ribbon cable, and the drive is ready to go. It is a little longer than a CD ROM, so if your case is real small, you might want to measure your space; the rack is 9″ long. There is a door flap so that when there is no drive in the rack, it doesn’t look like a gaping hole in your case’s front.
The handle serve multiple purposes; you can hold the drive with it and it locks the drive in place when you insert it. You insert the drive as far as it goes, then push the handle down and it engages the power and drive socket of the rack. Once locked into place, the drive is ready to go.
Well, not really. When I first set this up, I inserted the drive, booted up and NO DRIVE! I thought the unit must be defective. Wait a minute – two keys. Lock the drive in place with the key and the power gets turned on.
Once you lock the drive in place, it can not come out (maybe with a crowbar). The lock is for security purposes – engaging the handle secures the drive to the rack. If you don’t like this feature, you can clearly see two wires on the lock’s back; I would bet if you snipped and connected them, the lock would be unnecessary.
The handle, once snapped into place, requires a little tug to disengage. I think it could be designed better so you don’t have to “dig it out” with your finger.
Overall, a very elegant solution for a number of purposes. I can see where one machine can take on many personalities through multiple drive setups. I can also so a very slick way to isolate internet viruses from sensitive data – set up a small drive just for the internet, snap it into place and you have the ultimate firewall. Nice.
Thanks again to Kingwin for letting us evaluate this product.