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NewerTech USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

Review - NewerTech USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

by , 9:00 AM EST, February 20th, 2007

Keeping spare empty drive cases around so you can access bare hard drives is kind of a pain: You have to install the drive before you can use it, and you need different cases for each drive connection type. If you are looking for a way to quickly access hard drives that doesn't require cases, NewerTech's USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter is just what you need.

The Universal Drive Adapter bypasses the need for extra hard drive cases by including an ATAPI/IDE connector for 3.5-inch hard drives and optical drives, an SATA connector, and an ATAPI connector for 2.5-inch laptop hard drives all on a single USB cable. It doesn't require any special drivers, and practically doesn't even need a manual.

Everything you need to connect to laptop and desktop drives is included.

3.5-inch and SATA drives require an external power source, so the adapter includes a power supply and plugs for each drive type. Since laptop hard drives are bus powered, they just plug in and work.

I did find, however, that the bare laptop drive I used for some of my tests couldn't get enough power from the built-in USB ports on a PowerBook G4 or an iBook G4. Connecting the adapter to a powered USB hub provided enough juice for the drive to spin up and mount on my Desktop, so if you plan on adding the Universal Drive Adapter to your tech support field kit, consider including a powered USB hub as well - for just in case.

A laptop drive connected to the adpater.

Drives connected to your Mac via the adapter work as they should, and perform at normal USB 2.0 speeds. That means you should plan a little extra time if you are using the adapter to transfer large amounts of data to another drive.

The three plugs on the adapter head hold to drives securely, which is nice since it is intended for short-term use only. This is one place that NewerTech could have cut corners and justified sloppy work by noting the adapter is for temporary use. Instead, the plugs are all well designed and stay attached to drives just as they should.

An IDE drive with adapter and power supply.

If you plan on using the Universal Drive Adapter at your workbench or desk, it's fairly easy to keep the parts together. But if this is going into your field gear - a scenario I expect is fairly common with consultants and traveling tech support teams - a carrying pouch is necessary to avoid losing parts. Unfortunately, that's not included with the kit. NewerTech's carrying pouch is a US$4.95 add-on, and unless you already have a pouch big enough for all the parts, it's probably a good idea to buy one along with the adapter kit.

The Bottom Line
NewerTech's USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter is an essential tool for any consultant, tech support team, or anyone else that needs to use hard drives that aren't mounted in cases. It's easy to use, works cross platform, and supports the three most common drive connections, making this a versatile all-in-one adapter.


Product: USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

Company: Newer Technology

List Price: $24.95

4 out of 5 stars

Pros: Supports desktop and laptop drives, no software necessary, easy to use.
Cons: May draw more power than some built-in USB ports can supply, no carrying case.

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